Soul-shattering. Every year as I prepare to do Mountains of Misery I remember how hard it was last year, or at least I think I do. I always fall victim to understatement. For example, I’m mocked by my friends (and duly so) for saying that the climb up to Mountain Lake, “..has its moments.” I know I suffer from denial because every year as I’m pulling out of Newport for the final 18 miles, I’m wondering if I’ll live beyond the hour and a half to two hours to the finish. What’s surprising is that I’m ‘back here’ again. Soul-shattering.
This year, my wife was pulling into the Newport Rec Center as I was making the climb back up to US 260. She waved, voiced her love for me. I glanced over. Apparently, “the look” I gave her — not the confident evaluation Lance Armstrong gave Jan Ulrich as he pulled away on Alpe d’Huez — was a look of hopeless despair. “You have no idea,” she imagined me saying. Graciously, my wife didn’t take it personally. As we talked afterward, the look was a “fell” look — like the riders of Rohan in Lord of the Rings as they mourned the death of Theodin and the falling of Eowyn. I found the quote and think it captures “fell” deeds such as riding miserable mountains. Here it is:
“[Eomer said]’…Death, death, death! Death take us all!’ Then without taking counsel or waiting for the approach of the men of the City, he spurred headlong back to the front of the great host, and blew a horn and cried aloud for the onset. Over the field rang his clear voice calling: ‘Death! Ride, ride to ruin and the world’s ending!’ And with that the host began to move. But the Rohirrim sang no more. Death they cried with one voice loud and terrible, and gathering speed like a great tide their battle swept about their fallen king and passed, roaring away southwards.”
Less fell posts will follow….