Today, I battled Heaven.
Loop #1 of the Breck 100 starts by climbing the ski hill on the outskirts of town. As I approached the mountain, the sky over my head was blue and sunny, but a black cloud hung over the top of Peak 9. Once I found the Ski Hill Access road, the rain had started. As I climbed, it sprinkled on and off, but then started to hail and thunder once I was a mile or so up. I put my jacket on and kept going…
A few minutes later, the hail stopped, but as I rounded 10.5K feet or so, it started to sleet. Eventually, after a lot slow uphill grinds, dizzy spells, and walking, I was above the treeline. The road became nearly unridable… the grade on my Garmin read 25 -35%, and the gravel road turned in to a rock-covered jeep trail. The skies had momentarily cleared, so I alternated wallking and riding as I navigated the switchbacks.
I finally reached the Wheeler Trail- the singletrack that would eventually cross the mountain and lead down to the base on the other side. However, as soon as I turned off, something crazy happened. The wind started to gust, and suddenly, I could barely see the narrow strip of singletrack in front of me. Fog? No… something was hitting my face…
It was a blizzard.
The snow was blinding, and the wind was gusting so hard that I could barely stay on the trail. I didn’t want to stop and freeze, so all I could do was keep steadily rolling forward. Then, almost as suddenly as it started, the blizzard was gone.
Soon after the snow stopped, I reached the final grunt over Wheeler Pass.
In my hypoxic brain, I’d conquered both heaven and earth. The ride back down was insane- until I was well below the treeline, I didn’t feel “right,” so I decended slowly.
At least the view was nice.
The remainder of the trail was not nearly as hard (other than the initial climb up the Peaks Trail). As I rode back in to town, the thunder clouds rolled back in. Luckily, the only thing between me and a the sweet nectar of a hot omelet at the bakery down the street was a hot shower and a little walking…