Sunday, November 27, 2005

Waimea Canyon, an odyssey in Three parts. Part Three

Part Three: Take Me Home

With bottle full, and our energy up, we took to the road again. The road out of Waimea consisted of nice rolling hills, of which none were scary. I was along these next 10 miles or so that I realized that I was in for another sixty miles. Part of me did not think I would make it this far. The other part was screaming profanity at me for thinking that I could finish 100 miles after 4000 feet of climbing, on a recumbent. We headed out of Waimea in into Hanapepe. The roads became little more rolling, and it was taking its toll on me. I was tired. I think it was in Hanapepe that I started to complain, merely echoing what my legs were telling me in mile three. Mentally, I was breaking. I was beginning to think that I would not make it back. I had never failed to finish a ride before; but then again, I had only been riding for two years, and this was way beyond the scope of anything I’d attempted before. Every uphill lasted forever and my body screamed. Every downhill seemed to last only a few seconds. Just enough time to give me a moment of relief before the pain began anew. Not sure how, but ZenLC had finally killed me. I was in full wuss mode. If I listed all the parts that we in pain, or had surpassed pain to enter the realm of dead/numb, it would put you to tears. The ride began to be not fun. My thoughts seemed focused on the pain. “How could I make the pain stop? Call in for the Sag? Maybe I will have a ‘mechanical’ and I could stop and not have to reveal how much pain I am in. It could be that I just need another break. A flat tire would be nice.“ That seems so ludicrous now. I wont even say the word ‘flat’ and there I was thinking how nice it would be to have one. Bad place.

We took a side road to make sure we had the miles to complete the century and along this stretch ZenLC stopped to get some gunk off his tire. I motioned for me to keep riding, but I needed the break. Badly. He could see in on my face. We talked a bit about how I was doing. He asked if I had though about calling it ‘quits’. I admitted that I had, but I wasn’t dead yet. Part of me, way deep down underneath the fear that my toes were bleeding and the pain in every part of my legs, was a desire to finish this damn ride.

The road heading off to Koloa had a few less rollers, and my focus shifted ever so slightly to making it to Koloa. The next scheduled rest stop. After a few miles of slight incline, we were rewarded with a nice descent into town. We parked the bikes and headed off to a special part of the ride. Ice Cream. We sat on a bench, tired and sweaty, eating ice cream in cycling clothes. It was the funniest thing to enter my mind in a long time. I was that far gone. We stayed in Koloa for a while. We were behind schedule. I wasn’t sure how far behind, but we were in serious danger of not getting back before dark. The time off the bike, and a scoop of mint chocolate chip gave me a moment of respite. I began to realize that my mind was the part of me that was failing. My body was in pain, yes, but unlike where I cracked at the top of Waimea Canyon, my body still had the ability to continue. I was not sure how far, but I knew I could go on. The term ‘paradigm’ is over used. But I had a paradigm shift; a mental revolution. I would finish this ride. I would not fail at this. I had not committed to ZenLC doing the century ride before. Partially because I wasn’t sure I could finish. It was so beyond the scope of what I’d done before. I made that commitment then. Not verbally. I stopped focusing on the pain and agony. This was supposed to be fun. And the reason the last 20 miles or so had not been, had only to do with my thoughts. Pain is a part of cycling.

To be a cyclist is to be a student of pain....at cycling's core lies pain, hard and bitter as the pit inside a juicy peach. It doesn't matter if you're sprinting for an Olympic medal, a town sign, a trailhead, or the rest stop with the homemade brownies. If you never confront pain, you're missing the essence of the sport. Without pain, there's no adversity. Without adversity, no challenge. Without challenge, no improvement. No improvement, no sense of accomplishment and no deep-down joy. Might as well be playing Tiddly-Winks. -Scott Martin

I changed how I was looking at the next 55 miles.

We grabbed some fuel restock from a gas station and set out. The Tree Tunnel on the way out of (or into) Koloa is a very cool thing. To see it from the seat of a bike is a very very cool thing. ZenLC and I rolled through Lihue and made some good time into Wailua. At some point he mentioned something about me catching my second wind. I didn’t have the brain power to focus on riding, holding back the pain, and go into the transformation so I told him that I found out that I had the “Wuss Swtich” on my bike set to ‘on’, and just set it to ‘off’. I remember him laughing, but deep down I could see the disappointment in failing to kill me by now.

Our average speed started to climb as we hit sections of road with few and less steep hills. Kapaa passed in a blur, though I remember seeing my cycle-puter displaying a speed of 26mph. We were booking. Anahola had some nice climbs, but my legs knew that they could just shut the hell up until they carried the bike up the stairs to the condo, and to do that, they had to make it up this hill, and the next one, and the one after that too. The rest of the hills and ride are mostly a blur. Until it started to get dark. We were running out of time, and our estimates of how far we needed to go to make this a century, and how far we had to go to get to the condo were not jiving. We pulled up to the condo five miles short, and the sun had gone done. I swapped out my sunglasses for my regular glasses, and we headed out to finish. It was hard to be at the stairs of the condo after 95 miles of pain, only to turn around and get back on the bike. We rode off out into the dusk. The area around the condo had surprisingly few streetlights. Darkness hit hard, and we were lightless. The main road was entirely too dangerous so we headed back to the side roads. Full darkness now. Riding became like a dream. Agony had retreated; simply a dull shadow. Every synapse was focused on not riding off the side of the road, or into a pothole, or into ZenLC.

Back at the condo, and climbing the three flights of stairs, my bike weighed 100 lbs. My legs had been reduced to Jell-O. My bones hurt. I was too tired to be as happy as I should have been.

Ride Stats:

Distance: 101.5
Ride Time: 8:39:26
Average Speed: 11.69
Max Speed: 50.1 MPH
Elevation gain: 10,323 feet
Calories Burned: 4949
Thrill Factor: Outstanding!

ZenLC recognized a part of my personality that has difficulty in resisting a challenge. He used this to inflict considerable pain and torment, both physical and mental upon my person. With the passing of pain and torment, I emerged gloriously reborn. Stronger in the faith of my abilities, and understanding of what a ‘limit’ is. All comments about him wanting to kill me are purely subjective on my part. I am considerably grateful to ZenLC for posing this challenge and the help, support and sadism that allowed me to complete the most difficult thing I have ever done.

So far.

1 comment:

ZenLC said...

I keep coming back and re-reading this entry. It is always amazing to see things from anothers' point of view.

At no time did I ever seriously consider that you were physically unable to finish the ride. I had confidence in you and in your abilities and we were both richly rewarded for it.

Thank you again for coming and riding with me. It remains one of the high points of my life.

So far :D.