The Panamint Shoshone primarily gathered pine nuts, mesquite beans, and seeds for food. Bands of families lived in small villages made up of conical brush houses. They spent their winters in Death Valley, taking advantage of ripening plant resources, and hunting animals and migratory birds. During the winter, the Panamint people enjoyed a rich ceremonial life, which included storytelling and singing.
The month of September was filled with both certainty and uncertainty. Lining up at the start of the 508 was certain. But, there were occasional hints of uncertainty attached to the finish line in Twentynine Palms. A neurotic host of voices haunted the logical side of my brain. Every day the demons in my head got louder. If someone around me coughed or sneezed, I’d hold my breath and run away. And more troubling, riding my mountain bike was turning into a major head trip.
I stuck to my training plan: every other weekend 350 miles. Between the 350’s I’d ride easy 150 mile weekends. During the work week I’d recover on Old Blue and ride mountain bike in the evenings. Some evenings Desiree and I would take pleasure rides on the roads around the Everett area.
On the 23rd, I rode the High Pass Challenge. The Cascade Bike Club put on a decent ride through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The route climbed a total of 7,500 feet to Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument on Windy Ridge; starting from Packwood the ride clocked out at 114 miles. At the halfway point (4, 100 MSL) the temperature was 38 degrees and it was gusting up to 20 MPH. One of my demons protested about riding in the cold. He yelled his complaint over the howl of the wind, “you’re acclimating to the wrong end of the thermometer!”
My head was spinning on the last few miles of the HPC. I thought about the three year climb that brought me to this point of my obsession to ride the 508. My body felt ready. And except for my demons, my mind was ready too.