The steady creaking of our heavy bikes broke the early morning silence. Cruising down the hill from my house, Hayden and I made our way over to the train station, arriving about 20 minutes before departure. The silence resumed as we sat, waiting for the train to arrive. Seeing Hayden’s lack of excitement, I wondered if we made a mistake. Maybe we should have postponed it for better weather. After several minutes, I convinced myself that it was just early that that we had made the right choice. A short while later, we were traveling south toward Provo. The plan was to take the train to the southernmost station in order to avoid all the traffic and the dangers that come with it. From there, we planned to head southwest toward Great Basin National park where we hoped to ski Wheeler Peak, Nevada’s tallest mountain.
Around 6am, we disembarked and pedaled our way over to the closest McDonalds. Normally neither of would eat there, but we needed quick calories for the day, so Hayden purchased oatmeal while I shoved a McGriddle into my mouth. It was delicious, and I regretted nothing. Anyone who says anything different has either never had one, or is lying.
Feeling temporarily fueled, we left the golden arches behind us and set out toward Delta, Utah. The riding was slow and methodical, making it easy to think about everything and nothing at once. We lumbered along as factories and department stores turned to open road and farmland. There were predicted winds out of the south that day, however it was early enough that nothing noteworthy had materialized yet. When we reached Nephi, our halfway point for the day, we stopped for lunch and to stretch our legs. As we left town, we noticed the wind had increased.
The sun beat down on us as we made our way up into the high desert that inhabited the landscape between where we were and where we needed to go. We had become specks on a canvas of sagebrush and juniper, lost in the rhythm of moving forward. By now, the wind advisory that was predicted was in full effect. Steady 30 mph winds out of the south turned our bikes into sails, fighting us with every peddle stroke. We turned and headed south on the last stretch of highway leading to Delta, facing the wind head on. For 3 hours, Hayden and I crawled along at a snails pace, screaming curse words into the wind, only to have them taken from our lips, never to be heard by anyone.
That night, we went to bed exhausted and defeated.
The following morning, we reluctantly made the decision to start pedaling home. The predicted winds were supposed to get up to 60 mph that day and the idea of crossing a long stretch of desert seemed daunting. Even though It was early, the weather had already turned pear shaped, legitimizing our decision to quit. With the strong wind at our backs, we made the ride home substantially shorter than the day before, cutting about 4 hours off our time.
It’s funny how we, as humans, confront defeat. For some it is the end, but for others, it is just a step in a larger process. My perception is often dictated by how long i’ve had to think about my decision. At first, i’m never happy, but over time, I realize that it’s a necessary and important step to becoming a better person, and it always leaves me excited to search for the next big failure.