There are rides one must do whenever they are in the vicinity. A fella in shape with nothing to do on a weekend in Tucson would be criminal to skip Mt. Lemon. A cyclist visiting Mesa would be foolish indeed to miss the ride to Tortilla Flat. Of course a guy missing the Alpine Loop in Provo, Ut would be the same and I must confess I am guilty. In my defense though, I rode up Mt. Nebo instead.
The innocent looking bottom of the climb.
It is a truth universally recognized that a man in possesion of a good bicycle must be in want of a climb. One must have an epic climb a year or they will lose perspective I believe. Epic climbs are different for everybody of course but for the last few years my definition of "Epic Climb" starts at a hill that is over 3000 feet high. That's my loose definition. The two truly epic climbs that I presently know are the Nebo Loop and Mt. Lemon which both climb over 5000 feet. I have heard marvelous and wonderful legends of a hill known as Graham in eastern Arizona but I have yet to seek out this mythical beast and slay it.
Ascending the foothills in Payson Canyon
What is soreness to the body of a cyclist-errant? What matter wounds? For each time he falls...he will rise again... and woe to the Mountain! It is quite true that an epic climb resets our suffer - o - meter. Through pushing ourselves to do fantastic things, we find ourselves capable of the fantastic. The unbelieving body is converted to the faith by the will of the mind as each pedal stroke raises us higher and higher.
The first of many.
Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded little canyon. It is in such non-descript places that often enough our epic struggles emerge. They lull us in and let us hope as we smirk at the ease of grade and our excitement of departure is strong. We might even have wonderfull scenery and a few deer to stare at us and raise our spirits periodically.
The thousand injuries of Mt. Nebo I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. One must have an almost burning vengeance to attack an epic climb. To such as Nebo is, one must have an undying desire to conquer to keep continually mashing the pedals for hours on end. "There is no spinning here" the mountain scoffs at you! When you are tired and take hope in thinking the next corner will bring a break to the neverending 9% grade he is ever ready to dash hopes and add insult to injury.
A road and a collection of waterfalls.
You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of a climb which you have regarded with such evil forebodings. We find that after each disappoinment there is a mentality of resetting our goal to the next corner. Perchance the masochistic Mountain should then again venture upon spurious disappointment, we find there is still enough will for one more corner. Where there is food, breath, and water, there is further fuel for life and struggle and the mind can still command the aching mass of ligaments, bones, and muscles. Not to mention the bicycle which creaks beneath the strain of our effort.
Emerging from a mountain shadow
Towards thee I climb, thou all-destroying but unconquering Mountain; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee. for every mountain bears many false tops. with each our will and morale are dealt blows. Nebo scoffs as the peak becomes visible, yet each corner brings a new pitch to ascend. Several times we descend to pass a saddle between hills on the ridges. The hill seems endless and despair drains the energy from the legs but the mind presses on.