Monday, February 18, 2008

White Tiger

Something about this weekend’s ride that will not go away is the image of the mountains covered with snow—and three Randonneurs climbing to above the snowline of the Sonoran Desert.

A damp storm came and stalled-out on the 300 Km Brevet Course this past Saturday.

As Paul, Steve, and Yours rode on, and the Catalina Mountains and snow-covered Mt. Lemmon loomed before us—I was over-taken by the blinding “whiteness” of everything. The sky was white, the mountains white—my exhaling breath white and being whisked away by the headwind. My eyes opened or closed I saw white.

Wet and cold—my strength was draining from me—and the harder I pedaled, the more I faded. Everything became white in my field of vision. I found it all I could do to focus on Paul’s wheel. Paul Layton—if not for him starting late on the ride, I would have been in even more dire circumstances. He drafted as I tried to hang on to my wits. Steve followed me to reassure me and keep my spirits up.

I was in the situation where I could not keep going yet I could not stop.

Paul and Steve rode back to fetch me at one point—it seems I was under the impression that I had a flat tire. I think it was my body telling me I had to stop—but we kept going and I hung on Steve’s wheel to get me to the crest of that patch of lonely desolate road, and then the descent.

When a predator hunts, it picks out the easy prey—a sick or injured individual. That would have been me. The cold and wind, along with the climb was the perfect place for ambush.

I felt the tiger on me with the cold like claws cutting into my lungs. My strength fading and all the tiger had to do was hold on to me and wear me down.

With everything I could muster, I made it to the top. Paul noted that we were at the snowline, and glancing up, we could see the cold white and grey mountains before us.

This sight was beautiful to behold—but I had paid a heavy price to be there. Even as we sailed down the road, and the weight of the cold and thin air gave way, I knew I was lucky to still be in the saddle, mes amis.


Sir Bikesalot said...

Hey Bruce, Sorry it wasn't in the cards for you Saturday. The view of Mount Lemmon from Marana was incredible just after sunset. I guess if it had to be bone chilling cold it at least helped that it was beautiful.

Dan Trued said...

I actually saw you, south of Tom Mix, as I was driving the opposite direction. The lowest snow line I've seen in the Catalina's in a while. But it was pretty. You're right, it was kind of "white" at that time. I couldn't figure out whether to wear my sunglasses or not, it was strange.

Sal Ortega said...

Sounds like you were under the weather in more ways than one. I still remember the cold and wind from the March 2007 400K.