Two and a half years ago, the first seeds of inspiration of our big year-long adventure were planted after a 9-day tour with a 16 month old Eden. It was then that I realized we would be crossing the Rockies and that I would need to climb a mountain pass on my bicycle.
Now, let me make this clear: I don’t like hills. I really don’t like hills. When I see one on the horizon I have to spend some time to mentally prepare to conquer it. If I encounter one unexpectedly, I have a very difficult time. Admittedly, a lot of my fear was born from rides on my old Schwinn hybrid bike with inadequate gearing that didn’t allow me to spin up a hill as effortlessly as I now can with my Santos Travelmaster and Rohloff hub.
If hills scared me, mountains rightly terrified me; even paralyzed me. Every day of this tour, when we have encountered a hill, be it in western Wisconsin or the climb out of the Mississippi valley, or the northeast hills of Nebraska, I would try to mentally compare the grade to that of the unknown mountains in my future. Would I be able to continue climbing for hours on end? My analysis was always a resounding ‘no’ – it would be absolutely impossible. I would continually tell people that trains and buses and rental cars were on my preferred list for crossing the Rockies, and I never really wanted to talk about cycling Western Colorado or beyond.