Cycling up Pike’s Peak

wp-1467245211437.jpegThe second leg of the bike tour began today. I said a tearful goodbye to Noah and Eli early this morning and then headed out to the great big world all by my lonesome.

As I rode out the driveway I had two alternate plans for the day forming in my mind. Plan one: ride the 65 miles to Hartsel, Colorado and rejoin the Transam Trail. Plan two: ride up to the summit of Pike’s Peak and spend the night in a campground ten miles away from my brother’s house.

The entire time my family and I were visiting in Silverthorne, I had planned to ride up Pike’s Peak, but when Noah and I returned to Colorado Springs with Eli, I made a grave mistake.

I googled, “cycling up Pike’s Peak”.

Suddenly I realized that the climb would be really tough. I got scared.

So this morning I made a deal with myself. I would ride up to the toll gate (using the road to the summit costs $12) and ask the rangers if they could hold on to my heavy panniers while I rode to the top. If they refused, I would turn around and ride to Hartsel.

wp-1467245404240.jpegBut the lady collecting the tolls was super awesome and did not hesitate in allowing my panniers to hang out with her in the tollbooth. I wasn’t sure whether to be grateful or petrified, but either way it was time to climb.

I made the turtle my role model for my ascent, I had 19 miles of road to travel before the summit and those 19 miles were the slowest I have ever ridden. It took me five hours in total! Halfway up the mountain, I met a young, thin guy who was also climbing to the top. We chatted for a bit, complaining over the price of water (3 bucks a bottle!!!), and encouraging each other that we could indeed make it to the top of this stupid road. He was going faster than I and I tried keeping up with him for a few minutes but then I realized that I would not finish the climb unless I did it at my own gentle pace. The thin alpine air was my enemy and I wasn’t letting it beat me down.

wp-1467245323922.jpegI rode up switchback after switchback, wondering which bend in the road would be the one that would trigger extreme suffering. But physically and mentally I was doing great. Many of the people passing in their cars cheered for me as they left me far behind and it meant the world to me on that lonely mountain. I couldn’t stop smiling.

Then the thunderstorm came. I have never been afraid of lightning before, but above the tree line there was no shelter and I felt so exposed to the furious power of the storm. The thunder ricocheted its explosive blasts across the mountain range. I prayed for safety with each pedal stroke and then, just like in every snowstorm, I felt the overwhelming presence of God. He had been with me the entire time, I just hadn’t been paying attention.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that everything was easy-peasy, pumpkin pie. Oh no, because that is when hail/sheet stuff began a barrage against me. I stopped to put on another layer of clothes, those things hurt!

With four miles to go, things looked bleak.

But my pace was so slow that the storm only lasted for three miles. Then the sky cleared and the people coming down the mountain kept yelling out of their cars, “You are almost there!”

And suddenly I had finished the last switchback and I was clear up to the highest point of the mountain. I couldn’t control the dry, weird sobs that came from the back of throat.

First, I felt relief.

Then, I felt happy.

And then, I got scared.

I had a mountain to descend, and it was wet. I began seriously considering trying to find someone who could haul my bike and I back down the switchbacks. As Noah will readily confirm, I have terrible descending skills. One curve on a hill? Cool, I got that. But if things are more complicated than that, I crawl down hills at speeds that would only make snails proud.

But while I was eating greasy doughnuts and hot dogs, the road dried up. I bought a warm, very expensive, hoodie (my clothes were so soaked that I would have frozen in the first five minutes of my ride back), took a few pictures and shakily got back on the bike.

It was time to fly. Within a few miles my fears dissipated like the water on the road. This was fun! Even though I remained very cautious, I was passing car after car. I sang happily all the way down to the tollbooth.

Climb every Mountain. It’s worth it!

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49 thoughts on “Cycling up Pike’s Peak

  1. How many times am I allowed to hit like???? I’m also insanely jealous! Does an East ride home come into plans? You could do RAGBRAI! You could stay at our house on the way home.

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    • Can you register for RAGBRAI this late in this year? Cause that would be totally cool although I am not sure how I would do around that many people, RAGBRAI must be intensely crowded!

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      • You can always find someone selling their registration. Or you go self-contained renegade. RAGBRAI.org and hit the forum. You’d do fine in the crowd. If I had vacation time, I’d be there with you!!!

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  2. You are absolutely incredible! What an exhilarating, terrifying, and exciting day you had! I am the very proud mother of a beautiful daughter who, with God’s help, conquered her mountain. Your courage astounds and inspires me! I love you so much!

    Mom

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  3. I clicked the like button only because there was no “love this post” button. Wow! Fantastic climb and great story. Well done. I nominate you for QoM (Queen of the Mountain–no sexism intended) and would send you a polka dot jersey if I had one.

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  4. Great… the whole time i was reading this… climb every mountain from the sound of music is playing in my head.

    You are doing things most of us can only hope to do, whenever you are faced with a challenge or the chance to do something that might be hard, or helpful or meaningful, but worth it. Ask your self, If not now, when?

    When are you going to be in Astoria, so i can book that train ticket? Or if you need anything else, you know where to find me. 3 more weeks of work, then to Niagara Falls!!!!

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  5. You are a courageous and inspiring young lady to so many! We all miss you and love reading your posts. Thank you for letting us live vicariously through you. ❤

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  6. So very proud of you, to not only recognize your fears but to face them, challenge them and most of all respect them…and then proceed to CONQUER them. God has given you wisdom and you use it, pacing yourself and knowing your limits. You challenge yourself and then trust God to get you to the final destination. God has got so much for you, and then with each time you share your experiences you will get to relive them in your mind and experience a portion of the thrill in your spirit once again. May God continue to bless you every step of this journey. Love you! Marilyn

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  7. Briana, Reading you post encourages me as I think about “the mountains” ahead of me. Thank you for continuing to share your journey. May God bless every spin of your tires and every curve of the road. We miss you and we are cheering you on from here.

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    • Thank you, Amy! Your encouragement means so much to me 🙂 I am praying for you and your mountains as well, know that God is with you in every moment. Hugs, friend!

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  8. Nice one, nothing like climbing for focusing the mind. A wet descent though is not the most fun. Keep enjoying and pushing yourself, it is amazing what you can achieve.

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    • Thank you, Mike! This summer was my first long distance tour, I was reading on your blog that you have ridden across the USA as well (and as a cancer survivor…that’s incredible!) Hopefully, this tour was the first of many for me, I had an absolute blast 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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