Tours Travel

I almost froze to death, I kept going

Over the years, I’ve always thought of myself as a tough guy who was strong-willed, unwavering, unstoppable, and refused to ever give up. Except for once, when that attitude and personality trait almost killed me, and yet it ultimately saved me. Well, adversity builds character and as they say, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!” And well, I guess today I am stronger thanks to that cold night, one that I will never forget.

The day before I rode from Fort Bragg and down the Russian River to Sausalito and across the Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco. It was very cold and had been raining all day and into the night, I got to the bridge around 1am and was soaking wet. To make matters worse, my gears didn’t shift well, as my bike needed lube from the long drive from Oregon. However, I made it to San Francisco, where I slept and rested. The next day was going to be even more scenic than the day before and better weather too. Well, I thought, boy, I was in for the ride of a lifetime.

I started early, I knew I had to travel many miles to get to Santa Cruz and then I would see how I felt if I could continue. The first 10 hours went well and I decided to travel overnight to San Luis Obispo (SLO). Through Big Sur; “AT SUNSET” and wow! Of course, once the sun went down, cold air rushed in and the temperature dropped, eventually below freezing, the road was icy and pitch dark with little moonlight, plus the treetops weren’t It let in no light anyway. I drove down the center line so I could feel the bumps and make sure I was really on the road, not over a cliff.

My body began to tremble wildly, but I had to continue to keep warm. The hills above were a blessing because that reduced the wind chill factor I created by moving as I had to slow down, plus my body worked harder to keep me warm, well sort of. Mile after mile I kept going, I was having hypothermia, I knew the symptoms and it was getting serious, I had trouble feeling parts of my body. I found out later that the temperature was below 20 and there I was, riding it, trying to prove something to myself, maybe.

I thought to myself, is the wind talking to me, is the mountain laughing at me, are the waves crashing asking me; “So you think you’re tough, who are you to challenge Mother Nature?” I yelled with positive diversion and challenge; “Am. . .” and she called out my name. But, at that moment, I felt a strong pain and I noticed that the hairs on my throat had frozen and I had trouble breathing, I wrapped part of my shirt over my mouth breathing through it. I had hit the wall, but I was a good 50 miles from anywhere to stop.

He had no choice, he had to go ahead and spend the night or die on the side of the road. She hadn’t seen a single car go by in over an hour. And even on that one, I heard and saw the lights coming at least 10 miles early. It really was me against Mother Nature and as the miles went by, time too, eventually the sun came out and the birds came out, I spent the night, so tired I couldn’t get off the bike and smart enough to know that if I did, I wouldn’t be able to get back up. Eventually more and more cars and the road turned inland towards SLO and I saw a motel.

I did it, I couldn’t believe I had done it. I was so tired I couldn’t sleep and I tried to eat something and my stomach threw it back, burning my frozen throat. I heated the tub but couldn’t get in, it was too hot even at 75 degrees, it felt like pins on my skin. I kept telling myself that it was okay for you to take this trip for charity and that you were doing the right thing.

It was at that moment that I realized something; You can do anything you want to do, nothing is impossible, and for the rest of my life, well, it’s a piece of cake compared to that night. Sometimes it takes adversity to build character. When I look into the eyes of other people who have a deep presence of personal character, I often ask them how they got to be like this; Their stories always intrigue me. Life must be lived to the fullest, so go ahead.

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