Adventure lives on by focusing on purpose. The cliche, “You had to be there to experience it” is true. Video and audio recordings or the written word are the next best things to keep the experience alive. The real time audio recorded thoughts of this cycler climbing to the 5,325 ft. McKenzie Pass follow.
In The Zone with Purpose
It’s August 13th, Day 5 of the epic Trans America cycling adventure. Riding ahead of the rest of the Trans America Team feeling very strong. Some days are just “in the zone.” What is the zone? That’s where energy and purpose intersect. It’s getting a glimpse of and understanding unique personal capabilities. The colors are brighter, the smells pungent, gratitude is greater, and the silence of the mountain is loud.
Getting in the zone requires focus. The zone cannot be conjured up on a whim. There is no easy snap of the fingers to get it. Stretching boundaries and persistence are means to gain entrance into the zone.
Getting into the zone requires a growth mindset. Growth does not come easily. Head knowledge is only a beginning to get into the zone. Next, action must be taken.
Getting to the Mountain Top
Today climbing up to McKenzie Pass is a mountaintop experience. What is the purpose of being up in the mountains? The Bible records many defining inspired events occurring on the tops of mountains. Moses gets the 10 Commandments, Jesus is transfigured, and Elijah hears God speak through the gentle whispers of the wind.
Doesn’t everybody want a mountain top experience? Certainly, but getting to the mountain top requires paying the price to get there? Any challenging adventure takes great courage and faith to get to whatever “the mountaintop” is for the individual.
Refusing to give up is imperative. Meanwhile, hardships come and hardships go, but one thing remains if one is to reach the top of the mountain. Keep climbing. Don’t give up. Gather people for support. Don’t do it alone.
Thoroughly enjoy the moments at the mountaintop. The precious moments are fleeting. In addition, know that the bumps, bruises, and pains are part of the process to get there. No getting around it.
The hardships are stepping stones. Stepping stones build endurance and fuel the inspiration to get to the top of the next mountain. For example, once a baby walks, the next step is to run. The run turns upward to a climb. Next is the beginning of taking risks that include falling and failure as learning experiences.
The 20 Mile Climb
Today McKenzie Pass is a literal 20-something mile climb. The first 5 miles are gradual and then the grade steepens. The next 15 miles consists of formidable meandering inclines up the mountain.
“Howdy!” Just said hi to a cyclist going down the hill at warp speed. That’ll be me in a few hours on the other side of the mountain!
Climbing like this is a challenge with a light bike. Loaded down with 50 to 60 pounds of weight on a heavier touring bike intensifies the test.
Training for the physical component of this is understandably hard, but simply a matter of putting in the work ahead of time. Staying on purpose preparing for the mental toughness needed for these moments is not so simple. The unique experience only comes in the midst of the adventure.
Any mountains in your life? What climbs are you undertaking? What’s the purpose? Rate the level of difficulty and are those first few mountains too high or too low?
Do the 5K, 10K, and half marathon before undertaking the full marathon. Triathlons have incremental race categories called Sprint, Olympic, Half, that are all stepping stones to the full mileage distances of a 2.4 swim, 112 bike, and 26.2 run. Whatever the end result for each individual, know the purpose and discipline required for each of those prospective stepping stones. Dream small and focus on one major thing to get done each day in the process of achieving the goal or desired outcome. One of the most prominent psychologists of the 20 century, Albert Bandura (1997) states:
Pursuits that have only a small chance of success consume large amounts of time, effort, and resources that offer better prospects of benefit when applied to more realistic endeavors.Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: the exercise of control (p.77), New York: W.H. Freeman and Company
In other words, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew!” and “Keep it simple Sasquatch!”
Failure, as mentioned before, is a necessary part of the process. Undertaking something far beyond current capabilities only leads to discouragement. A defeated attitude leads to thinking it cannot be done! Of course it wasn’t done because the dream began too big. Failing is a given. Dream small in the beginning to get clarity of purpose and short-term victories. Taking short-cuts to grand achievements only leads to frustration and quitting.
Evaluate each step of the way. Frequent evaluations enable the planning of incremental outcomes. The necessary small-step achievements give the confidence to surge forward with purpose.
The Story Continues
Back to the mountain. A self-assessment takes place at about eight miles from the top of this 5,325 foot summit. The sign for 4,000 feet is encouraging. Certainly, it’s now safe to be thinking this is doable. Also a thought of gratitude arises thinking about all the preparation that took place along with help and emotional support from others to get here.
The anticipation is great. The purpose for doing this becomes clear. The energy drawn from those things leading up to this adventure is invigorating. Still the legs are tired, the butt is sore, and the breath‘s are short. The flat tires, the fall, and the broken rear view mirror are in the past, the goal is close to being achieved.
Wait for it, wait for it, “only” seven more miles to go. Dang, a cool headwind was not on the menu. OK, it has subsided. Rats (might have used another word here🙄), it’s back again depending on which direction the meandering up the hill takes.
Seven more miles at four mph means almost two hours to go. Time to take a snack break. Wow, a little while back it seemed the summit was imminent. Now it has taken on a new dimension. Back to a growth mindset, clarifying purpose again, and how this challenge helps build character. Let’s do this!
One of the worst things about a relaxing snack break is the restart. The body thinks the ride is over. Really it’s just a break. So is it any surprise the thighs are screaming when the climb resumes. These things shall pass.
Flutter of the Butterflies
Literally hundreds, but by the time the top is reached, thousands of pretty black and yellow butterflies fluttering all around. The beauty of this is marvelous, but looking to the right, sections of this road have perilous drop offs. Running over a butterfly is not a concern. Concentration on the road is because without guard rails, death seems imminent with one mistake.
Six more miles to go. Remember dreaming small? Chopping the remaining climb in half to give hope is wise. Three more miles to the road mile marker 49. Then three more to 52. Lord get me there!
Due to fatigue, this formidable goal gets harder as time passes. Especially when those butterflies are almost flying in an open mouth gasping for air.
Wait, an unforeseen blessing! The mountain climb has leveled off and a half a mile respite on a flat road brings some relief. Even difficult tasks have welcome surprises, but this one is short lived. Back to the grind of uphill meandering.
The butterflies are intensifying in numbers. Forget covid, get a butterfly mask! Pretty sure the nectar-feeding insect doesn’t taste good.
Start a Conversation on Purpose
Stopped to take a photo of an informational sign of a historical landmark. Saying hello to the three people there begins a conversation.
One of the prayers of the Trans America team was to have Divine encounters to connect with and encourage people. Prayer does get answered. The conversation was delightful, especially with 94 year old Virginia as one of the three. The topics included this adventure, contributions to society, and educational learning experiences. Delved into things regarding spiritual, physical, intellectual, relational, financial, and emotional well being.
Whoa, this was not a normal conversation. Being a writer, when time allows, questioning others about the aforementioned topics draws out extraordinary things about ordinary people.
Topics with a Purpose
Questions include naming influential people in life. What risks were taken and should there have been more? Doing life over again, what would be different? And if there was one piece of advice for a younger person what would that be?
Answering these questions, Virginia was full of life, inquisitive and open to joking around. Finding out Virginia lived in Baker City, Oregon, it was time to tongue-in-cheek ask a question, “How about inviting the team over and cooking some dinner for four ravenous guys?” The answer was no to cooking, but a quick follow of “But I’ll take you out for dinner!”
The conversation continued with Virginia, her son and daughter-in-law for another 10 minutes. Surely the aforementioned dinner date memory is gone and light-hearted goodbyes are in order. Not to be! Viriginia brings up the topic again ready to exchange contact information.
Reminding this wonderful lady, “Seriously, you want to feed four hungry strangers?” An emphatic reply of “Sure!” followed. Keep in mind Virginia’s son and daughter-in-law are hearing all of this so it is definitely a discussion on the drive home to Baker City. The team had two days before arriving there. Plenty of time to conjure up an excuse to withdraw the offer of hospitality.
What a fun distraction on the way to the summit! Replenished in mind and body after the lively conversation and a snack, three miles get done quickly hitting mile marker 49. Good distractions make for a great mindset.
The End is Near
Only three miles left of this grueling climb, the end is near, and life is good! A sense of accomplishment mingled with thinking, “how is this happening?” The thoughts go back to a surreal sense of awe being a participant in this Trans America ride.
Tired, but so excited to reach McKenzie Pass! Some time passes to take in the beauty of the mountain range before the rest of the team arrives. High fives, hoots and hollers, selfies and team photos follow. On display are explanations of the mountains and a history of the area making for some interesting reading.
All that is short-lived and it’s time to “bomb-it” down the other side of the mountain. One thing about climbing the Cascade mountain ranges for hours, the rides down sure are fast and fun! On to the next mountain range.
Baker City With a Wonderful Lady
Back to Virginia. The team did arrive two days later in Baker City. Things worked out so that Baker City ended up being a place to rest for a day. Since the guys did not meet this wonderful lady, it was necessary to “sell” the idea of having dinner together. The arrangement included Virginia acting as chauffeur (she still drives!) and picking up the team.
Repeated offers to share expenses or the team pay entirely for the dinner follow to no avail. Offered two choices, the guys pick the 1889 Geiser Grand Hotel. The hotel is one of the two finest dining establishments in Baker City with a pricey menu. Virginia assures the team this is not a problem.
During the dinner conversation, Virginia shares about the loss of a husband and best-friend sister, both in the last two years. The evening ends with parting words, “This is the best evening I’ve had in a long time!” Humbling to know that encouragement and joy came for someone and all the team did was spend time and eat a feast. Undeserved favor for sure for the trip and this was just the beginning of occasions like that.
A simple offer to get to know people through a light-hearted conversation. The conversation leads to a glorious and undeserved dinner that blesses a wonderful lady that has experienced a recent loss of loved ones. Mission accomplished in reaching out to encourage others with more opportunities yet to come.
Lifting the spirit of Virginia with encouragement and time spent is truly memorable and a great story with purpose. The sense of accomplishment for climbing to McKenzie Pass is icing on the cake. The combining of these types of things is what adventure is all about. It is good!
I get a kick out of your COMMENTS! Let me know, “”Any mountains in your life? What climbs are you undertaking? What’s the purpose? Rate the level of difficulty and are those first few mountains too high or too low?