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Monday, May 30, 2016

Blood, Sweat, and Gears

 "Tis It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." Mark Twain

But, as you are well aware, I don't keep my mouth closed, "removing all doubt" when it comes to being the "fool on the hill." 

Hell, I share everything but "the bedroom" here on the BCB stage—sophomoric art, writing, and photography, to mention a few. Thus, you are privy to all the inevitable failure that lies in a heap at the feet of an overachieving, but woefully incapable dreamer. But today's post is a rare success, a story in which I fully intend to (momentarily) "wallow" in achievement like a pig in shit. 

Hang a right here.

Suddenly, I had a "mutiny" on my hands; lungs and legs were in full revolt after nearly three hours of grinding up Camp Bird Road. I paused to rest, disbelieving eyes taking in the white magnitude of Mount Sneffels against a Colorado Cobalt sky. 

A rocky creek crossing and a modest half mile of Jeep trail was all that stood between a Geezer and his dream—the glorious personal triumph of pedaling a bike from Lovely Ouray to Yankee Boy Basin... perhaps the most prolifically wild-flowered, sweet smelling setting in the world come July and August.

But it was May, not "July." What a difference 34 days can make in Alpine Country. While the rest of the world is knee deep in veggie gardens, our playground remains knee deep in snow. This is the price mountain folk pay for two indescribable months of summer, and why most of us have Rvs.   

Still, the preseason eye candy of snowcapped mountains was magnetic. It pulled me onward and upward... into air so thin it couldn't fill a paper bag. Hence the "mutiny" of leg muscles starved for O2. 

Looking back down one of the steeper pulls at 10,000 feet.
Taking photos was more an excuse to catch breath than anything else. While I did make it to Camp Bird Mine without stopping, the same can't be said for the final pull to Yankee Boy. 

At long last Twin Falls came into view. I realized that, one way or another, I was going to pull this crazy stunt of a dream off... even if I had to carry the damn Fat Tire the rest of the way.

The longest mile... 

A dozer had cleared the way.

As I rolled into the snowbank where dozer-man called it "quits," a small group of backcountry skiers gave me a standing ovation. Whether it was the "cheer" or the chilled breeze on a sweat soaked jersey, I'm not sure. Suddenly I came down with a severe case of Goosebumps. 

After a couple attempts at Selfies (to prove I actually made it) one of the backcountry guys came over and helped me out with a few more photos. 

If I had only one word to convey the entire experience of pedaling up to Yankee Boy, it would be "gratitude." Not pride; not joy; not machismo... though they all play supporting roles when it comes to the "hazards of being Male." Just Gratitude, thankful to still be doing the kinds of activities that always, and still do, bring such completeness to an otherwise insignificant existence in a Universe of Stars.

Good tidings and peace out from Lovely Ouray,


  1. WOW! Now THAT is an achievement. Only another extreme mountain biker (or skier) will really appreciate what you did. Hell, I get queasy and out of breath just trying to take that same "road" in a jeep.

  2. Holy cow Mountain Man...you are amazing!

  3. Good on ya Mark! That was one beast of a climb, you clearly have some serious lungs! I am impressed!

  4. That was an amazing ride. It would finish off this flat lander!

  5. Congrats Mark,fabulous. You are either an inspiration or a warning

  6. I never had any doubt that you could do it. But that doesn't mean I still don't think you're crazy!
    By the way, even YOU look cold in that new header photo.

  7. Mark that one off the list you crazy man.

  8. Very impressed. And cold. Gave ME Goosebumps. Kudos to you on realizing your dream and thanks for expressing your gratitude in such a beautiful way with us.

  9. Dear Mark, you fell victim to the very common assumption that pigs "wallaw in shit". You might even have thought that pigs like wallowing in shit. Let me tell you that we have had pigs for some years and they like to be very clean. They poop into one place only and like a dry clean place to lay down. But pigs have been kept in dirty places by lazy farmers. Too lazy to clean up their pens. So there you have it.

    1. Well now I think the SPCA needs to take those "lazy farmers" to task. That's cruel... and so, too, my metaphor. I stand corrected.

  10. Congrat to the Box Canyon Beast! From here in Mizzery


  11. None of us long time BCB ers are surprised by antics of the BEAST of Ouray! just lucky you are in your PRIME! will you still be doing this when you start to grow old! my guess- yes! Walden Creek RV - steve

  12. Just proves what I have suspected all along...you and Bobbie are cyborgs.

  13. Well, you certainly don't have to worry about dodging much traffic up there this time of year. Another challenge off the list - congrats!

  14. Do you have any altitude figures for your climb??
    Thanks for the great photos!
    Don in Okla.

  15. Whew!! No wonder you were a little short of wind. Thanks for the info.
    Don in Okla.

  16. Thanks Mark, now we know what it looks like in the off season. Strange how it reminds us of Switzerland and it don't get any better than that.
    Al & I have said so many times wish we were 25 once again and could do it all over.....it's been one hell of a ride too and thanks to you we can go on seeing our favorite mountains in the United States in all seasons.
    Looking forward to those wild flower pics.

    From Sonoma County
    Al & Doug


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