Day 15 Emery Pass

9/22/19

What goes around comes around.

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This is a story of friendship. Sometimes months to years later the points on a circle touch again but viewed in 2 dimensions the circle seems to go on to infinity never touching.

2 years ago I was in great shape at the end of the Pacific Coast ride and found this ride hard but not terribly difficult. I recall that all of the riders with me on the Southern Tier that year struggled to some extent, some more than others. But I also recall the gut determination that allowed them to strengthen every day and finish the entire ride.

One in particular, a member of the Lost Boys… Cherrie Pie… struggled a bit more than the others but each day he became stronger, thinner, and a better rider.  I could tell he was frustrated but marveled at his tenacity. Two years ago to this day he mastered Emery Pass, no small feat. It took two weeks of strengthening for him to reach that level of cycling but he made it.

Emery Pass is the highest point on this ride at 8200 feet. The ride today started with 23 miles of rollers to warm up… perhaps 1500 feet of climbing. At that point we dropped to a meadow at 5500 feet

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from which we all began a 17 mile ascent. Luckily the temperature was about 70 degrees and there was a slight 5 mph tailwind. Through the foothills of the Rockies we climbed  the steepest angle perhaps at 8 degrees but most at 6 degrees. 7 miles up without a break I was beginning to tire so I stopped to eat a banana. At 9 miles I entered the Gila National Forest and stopped to drink.

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The Gazelle caught up with me then “ Are we at the top?!”

” No, 8 more miles to go”

It was at that point that I learned Gazelles know a few choice words.

Higher I climbed into the forest with now a stream on my right. Suddenly I was in a beautiful canyon climbing higher yet.

At that point I noticed I was short of breath and realized I was probably at about 7500 feet and dealing with thinner air.

Higher and higher I climbed and began to really tire.

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And then I remembered Cherry Pie who had succeeded at this climb. For the next hour I pretended he was cheering me on just as I had encouraged him on two years ago.

With starts and stops I climbed the last 700 feet drinking all my water and eating my last banana but always hearing Cherry Pie cheer me on.

And finally I reached the top

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tired but elated. I rested a bit then sped down 37 miles to Lake Cavallo to find that Dear Cassie has changed the campsite from the scorpion infested desert floor to one brimming with cottonwoods, grass covered in shade, clean bathrooms and showers with no… Scorpions!!!

How lucky can one be?

So today I thank my friend Cherry Pie for cheering me on

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and give Dear Cassie a special thanks that I will not be sleeping with Scorpions tonight.

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PS Spoke too soon… a young route leader came over and asked me to check where he wanted to hang a hammock near an old stone wall. The hammock was in fact already up. So too were the scorpions on the wall… Ever seen a route leader take down a hammock in 7 sec and run 80 mph back to a grassy area? I have…

 

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