I’m often around extremely fit, tough women, but this group we have assembled here in Kona is exceptional. I like to think I train hard, long, and pretty fiercely on a regular basis, but I’ve never done anything like this before, nor have I pushed through staring the uncomfortable in the face and hanging out in it for so long, and I’m only half way through Epic Camp! I have twice surpassed my longest ride ever and trying to hang on to coach T’s wheel while doing it has been simultaneously humbling and empowering. WOW that woman can ride!!! But while here I’ve also conquered some awe-inspiring descents that in the past would have left me totally panic stricken. As I was descending Kam 3 today at 65km hour with 575 km of riding and 35km of running in my legs, and 18km of swimming in my body and so feeling like lead and looking down the 2000 feet I’d just climbed, a passage from Jack Kerouac’s novel the Dharma Bums was running through my head. Japhy Rider was one of my first literary crushes and he helped me get over my fear of the steep and speedy and breathtaking downhill today….Japhy Rider and the women around me: “You can’t fall off a mountain.” There’s no falling here, we are all onwards and upwards.
Here is the passage I was thinking about:
Then suddenly everything was just like jazz: it happened in one insane second or so: I looked up and saw Japhy running down the mountain in huge twenty- foot leaps, running, leaping, landing with a great drive of his booted heels, bouncing five feet or so, running, then taking another long crazy yelling yodelaying sail down the sides of the world and in that flash I realized it’s impossible to fall off mountains you fool and with a yodel of my own I suddenly got up and began running down the mountain after him doing exactly the same huge leaps, the same fantastic runs and jumps, and in the space of about five minutes I’d guess Japhy Ryder and I (in my sneakers, driving the heels of my sneakers right into sand, rock, boulders, I didn’t care any more I was so anxious to get down out of there) came leaping and yelling like mountain goats …. It was great. I took off my sneakers and poured out a couple of buckets of lava dust and said “Ah Japhy you taught me the final lesson of them all, you can’t fall off a mountain.
-Jack Kerouac, Dharma Bums