Failure is totally an option.

About a year and a half ago, I visited my brother and his girlfriend in Tucson, Arizona. I was eager to see the sights, and after a little coaxing, we drove the long, meandering 25 miles to the top of Mt. Lemmon. Sunny and 60 degrees at the base, there was snow at the summit. Between that and an elevation gain of over 5,000 feet, I never expected to see this:

Almost immediately, I began planning my own Tucson cycling adventure. I would bring along my sister and a close friend, and together we too would conquer Mt. Lemmon.

Mt-Lemmon_Wendy-Point_Bike-Ride_Tucson_AZ

Easy peasy. Photo credit

We arrived in Tucson last week with grand plans: Climb a mountain and drink all the beer.

Mt-Lemmon-beer

A flight of brewskies at noon o’clock the day before an endurance event. Duh.

When I asked my sister and friend if they wanted to drive up the mountain for a sneak peak peek, they gave a resounding, “Hell no!” We had recently done some long, challenging rides, and felt cocky confident.

Tour-de-France-lies

Remember this one?

The night before our trek, a man named Robert met us in a dentist office parking lot with three rental road bikes.

Mt-Lemmon-bikes

You say “a strange man asked you to meet him in the bushes just behind the dumpster” like it’s a bad thing…

“Eh, it’ll take you a few hours and three bottles of water to get to the top,” Robert said. “I’ve done it a bunch of times.”

Mt-Lemmon-Jules-water

Okay, Robert! I trust you, Robert!

The next morning, when we finally arrived at the base of the mountain (a 45-minute drive from our AirBnb), I looked at my sister. “Oh my god,” I said. “I left my helmet in your suitcase.” My sister spun around and spotted another cyclist in the parking lot. “Excuse me,” she called. “Are you from around here? Do you know where we can buy a helmet?”

We were prepared to drive to the nearest Walmart, but our new cycling friend, Gary, rummaged in the back of his car and pulled out a well-worn white helmet. Without a moment’s hesitation, he walked over and began fitting it on my head, pulling the chin strap tightly.

“That should work,” he said with a smile and a nod.

“Crap,” I told him. “I almost got out of this.”

Mt-Lemmon-base

Goddamn you, Gary.

By then it was 9:30am, and the sun felt like it was sitting squarely atop my borrowed head gear. We took off and before long, everything hurt. Numb hands, aching legs, and dull chills – everything I’d dreamt of and more.

Two hours in, my sister and I stopped for our 87th break and said, almost in unison, “Well, I can’t breathe and I’m out of water.”

We were at mile 7.

Of 25.

Mt-Lemmon-suitcase

But our cycling gear made it the full 2,433 miles home – right at the weight limit! Which is especially impressive when you consider how much shame was inside.

P.S. – Here’s our friend at the top. She’s a machine. Ain’t that right, KB!

Mt-Lemmon-summit

She was really impressed with the view.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

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14 responses to “Failure is totally an option.

  1. I was in Maine last week and thinking of you…You could bike to Nova Scotia…or I could bike to – wherever you are. #funtimes

  2. I respect you for trying nonetheless, given that my bicycling is definitely in the casual hobby arena. Also, I love your line at the end about meeting the baggage weight limit: “which was pretty impressive, considering how much shame was inside.”

    • Thank you, Liesl! I’m starting to think cycling belongs ONLY in the casual hobby arena, and that I should devote my energy to more worthwhile pursuits. Like drinking all the beer. (BTW I tried to ‘like’ your About page earlier today, but it wouldn’t let me. I love your blog theme / adventurous spirit!)

  3. Oh, you should totally come back here so we can ride tandem. I’ll sit on the back on my fat ass and coast and let you do all the work! YEAH!

    • OMG. You just reminded me of something I forgot about when I blocked this whole experience out – there WAS a couple riding in a two-seater bike! I can’t decide if that’s the WORST idea or the BEST idea ever…

  4. I’m even more impressed that KB made it all the way to the top while wearing that circular blue blindfold.

  5. Hey Jules!
    It depends on the incline. I can easily bike 25 miles if it’s relatively flat. From Breck to our house is only three miles, but 1000 ft in elevation. I had to bale after the first two. While pushing my bike, my neighbor saw me and picked me up. The altitude had a lot to do with it too. Our house is at 10,500. I had to stop at one point since I thought I was going to puke!

    Good for you, trying!

  6. Never done that, but have started things I wish I had never done…sometimes, even finished them!

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