An Idle Tuesday

Last Tuesday I decided to go for a quick bike ride after work. It would be my last chance to ride my gorgeous new Cannondale high-mod carbon frame road bike before nearly two weeks of travel, and my legs were restless. It would also be my first solo ride with my dream bike, so I probably had something of a romantic notion to ride my favorite road in the Marin Headlands, about a 90-minute loop I’ve ridden maybe a hundred times. I remember leaving my apartment at about 5:30, riding north on Larkin St., and riding west through the Presidio along the shore. I also remember enjoying the relative lack of ambling tourists on the narrow approach to the Golden Gate Bridge. Then I woke up in the hospital.

Everything hurt and nothing in particular hurt. My head was immobilized with a collar. I wiggled my toes and fingers to make sure they were still there—they are. I asked someone standing over me what happened. “You were in a bike crash. Do you know your name?” I answered. “Your birthday?” “Do you know what day it is?” I got those right, after noting a wall clock that read 10:00, so it was likely in the evening of the same day. Then—I’m not joking—he asked me: “Who’s the President of the United States?” I answered: “I’ll tell you who I wish was the President of the United States.” He smiled, looked up, and yelled something like “okay, I think he’s with us.” Mercifully, I have a complete gap in my memory for 3 to 4 hours before this.

They told me what they knew. I had a fractured vertebra in my neck and two fractured vertebrae in my back. Fractured sternum. Broken rib above my aorta. Broken left collar bone. My throat was cut, and they were worried that I had punctured my trachea and damaged my vocal chords. My heart and and liver showed signs of injury. I had been found “on a guard rail,” by someone who called for an ambulance. I was responsive and repetitive in the ambulance, and I clearly had memory loss, which indicated a concussion.

The possible complications with damage to my aorta and trachea were the triggers to transfer me by helicopter to a Level 1 Trauma Center. This would have been in San Francisco except for a city ordinance forbidding medical flights (SF NIMBYism at its finest, no doubt). At about 11:30 PM, I was strapped to a board and flown to the next-closest trauma center at Stanford. I suppose I’m glad I remember what I hope remains the most expensive flight of my life.

Marin Headlands

The glorious downhill section of my favorite road, somewhere along which my accident occurred. (With one arm now in a sling, making this graphic was also a test of my one-handed Photoshop skills.)

In the wee hours of the morning in the Stanford E.R., doctors verified that the damage to my trachea did not include a puncture, which greatly simplified things thereafter. I don’t want to know more about why they were worried that my vocal chords were damaged, but I can assure you that I have no trouble yapping. They glued the hole in my neck shut along with a hole in my left foot. It would appear that I kicked the corner of an I-beam pretty hard, which left matching slits in my foot and my otherwise pristine bike shoes.

I called my parents in the morning. I have no defense for having waited so long; I should have called as soon as I was lucid. I remember thinking about the three-hour time difference and not wanting to wake them, which I suppose is classic focus at the wrong level of detail when you’re overwhelmed. When I reached them, they were literally on their way out the door to drive to a woodworking conference in Iowa. They dropped everything and got plane tickets, and after all manner of airline delays, they arrived at 2 AM local time the next morning.

A funny consequence of the accident is that my phone was lost, and with it, almost all my ability to contact the outside world. The phone was loose in the back pocket of my cycling jersey, and since it was absent among my recovered belongings, the likeliest explanation is that it continued over the cliff when I was stopped by the guard rail. The only phone number I know is my mother’s, and that’s only because it’s similar to mine. What’s more, I’m security-conscious, so I use a password manager for everything, where my phone is the second factor for all two-factor authentication. Without it, I don’t know any of my other passwords! I’ll get a new phone this week, and all will be right with my digital world, but I’ve taken the point that my digital life can be rendered just as tenuous as my physical life.


Me and my new bike, a week before the accident, at the top of Hawk Hill on my favorite road in the Marin Headlands.

Every day has brought noticeable improvement over the day before. Milestones so far: no existing or immediate risk of spinal cord damage, heart and liver enzyme levels returned to normal, discharged from the hospital, first shower, and yesterday was my first day without needing Oxycodone for pain. Mom offered to stay in San Francisco to take care of me for as long as I need her. I would be in a rehab facility otherwise. I must wear a neck collar for at least the next six weeks, and my left arm will be in a sling for all or most of that. I am crazy lucky that the fractured vertebrae in my back are just high enough that they’ll heal on their own as long as I don’t twist my back; were they much lower, I would be lying flat until July.

We’re still figuring everything out at the moment, and all I can say for sure that I know I’m one of the luckiest people in the world. Perhaps the craziest part is that after all of this, it’s a reasonable expectation that I will make a complete recovery, with normal function restored as early as 6 weeks from now.

A very large number of people are doing everything they can to make it easy for me to win. The doctors, nurses, pilots, drivers, custodians, therapists, and administrators at Marin General and Stanford Healthcare are top notch. I’m also keenly aware of the sacrifices my Mom and Kert are cheerfully making to help me heal. Thanks also to my colleagues at Autodesk as well for their kind words, flowers, and for taking on more in my temporary absence.

As for cycling, even now I can’t imagine that I would ever stop. Being on a bike is the happiest place I know, and it’s changed my life so strongly for the better. I have some investigation to do, though, and some healthy soul-searching to find a way to keep the risk lower in the future. Mom asked me in the hospital if I would ever have set out across the country last year if I knew then what I know now what those dangers truly mean. While working to reduce risk should always be a fundamental, personal disposition, I hope my answer is always yes. Everything worth doing carries risk, and fear should never be disabling.

One nurse I met at Stanford is a cyclist herself. Years ago, she was riding with a friend down the California coast on Highway 1 when her friend inexplicably missed a turn and crashed badly. Her friend was life flighted to a trauma center and eventually recovered. “They say all cyclists have either had a major accident or are about to,” she said. I’ve heard that before too. So my new goal is to remain a subject only of the past-tense clause!

Thank you for your thoughts!

Data As Story

This is the story of the numbers. My journey from Boston to San Francisco, mostly by bike, was relatively tech-ish, or at least more techy than any cross-country ride 10 years ago could have been. Everything I needed was in the form of one app or another my phone. In Colorado, I met a couple at Lizard Head Pass in Colorado who were taking in the view when I reached the summit. The gentleman had done his own cross-country ride decades ago when he was in his 20s, and he told me he had to carry a big road atlas to navigate. That would be different…

I recorded my ride every day with two apps on my phone: Ride With GPS and Strava. Sometimes Ride With GPS was also navigating me along routes I had pre-planned, and sometimes I used Google Maps to override my original plan. I took pictures with my phone, checked the weather with Weather Underground, shared pictures with Instagram (@mccronecolin), blogged with WordPress, and kept in touch with friends via texts, Facebook, Twitter (@colinmccrone), and Gmail on my phone. It felt odd but also pleasantly old-timey when I switched to using paper maps between Pueblo, CO, and Carson City, NV.

With tech comes data. Elevation gain and loss is notoriously difficult to calculate, and the two apps I used to record my rides gave different results. Either way, the scale of the thing is still insane even for me to think about.

Tot Distance                  3,614 miles       5,816 km
Tot Moving Time                 317 hr            317 hr
Tot Avg Speed                  11.4 mph          18.3 km/hr
Tot Elev Gain (Strava)      141,783 ft         43,215 m
Tot Elev Gain (RWGPS)       179,620 ft         54,748 m

Max Distance/Day                111 miles         179 km
Max Moving Time/Day            9.05 hr           9.05 hr
Max Speed                      44.7 mph            72 km/hr
Max Gain/Day (Strava)         6,101 ft          1,860 m
Max Gain/Day (RWGPS)          7,648 ft          2,331 m

Weight of Bicycle                75 lb             34 kg
Weight I Lost                     9 lb              4 kg

Yes, 44.7 mph on a heavy bike is terrifying. Each time I “bombed” down a hill, I was hyper-aware of pebbles, sand, or any possible cracks in the pavement that could ruin me. I hit the greatest speed on a stretch of UT-12 on Boulder Mountain. I learned later that the Tour of Utah uses the same road, and cyclists regularly hit 100 mph there. My normal daily maximum was more like 35 mph.

Obviously I daydreamed several times during the ride about how I would visualize all the juicy data I was collecting when it was all over. Part of my professional self-definition is that I’m a “computational designer,” which mostly means that I like to solve design problems with math and logic. At Autodesk, I was once the “Computational Design Evangelist” (exactly as it appeared on my business card, in fact) for Dynamo, which is a visualscripting program for architects and engineers. I won’t show you the script, which would be meaningless to the uninitiated, but the results are fun to see.

In the visualization tool I made, data about the distance traveled, time, moving speed, and elevation gained each day are shown with an animated bar chart, while a drawing of the bike (or the rental car during my week-long New Mexico side trip) makes its way across the country. You can play with it yourself at Colin’s Cross-Country 2017. You just need an Autodesk ID to sign in, which is free to setup.


Making this little toy was another way for me to process what I just did with my life. And numbers, we all know, often tell a different story than our memories might. For me, looking at the data, I learned a few things:

  • The ride from Denver to San Francisco was just as long and at least twice as difficult as everything else that came before. So it really was kinda crazy to plan to fit that into 3 ½ weeks as I did. I think I only made it because I was stronger than I realized after the eastern half of the country trained me.
  • My average moving speed each day was relatively constant, even after the plains turned into mountains. That says something about the physics of bike riding and air resistance, but also that my strength increased significantly over time to compensate for the increasingly challenging terrain.
  • That second day in Western Mass, which at the time I sheepishly called “A Little Too Ambitious” really was that hard. It was was tougher, elevation-wise, than every other day save one. For where I was physically at the time, that was a mistake.
  • My cross-country ride had three very distinct phases:
    1. Boston – Cleveland: rushed and somewhat inconsistent
    2. Cleveland – Kansas: Steady, consistent, with evenly-spaced rest days
    3. Denver – San Francisco: Intense rides every single day with no break
  • The middle of the country isn’t nearly as flat as we all think it is.

So here it is, data-as-story:



The ride of my life ended on September 2nd with two wet tires at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. I can still make a deadline, it seems, but classic me, I just made it—my new job and my teaching gig both started two days later, already with a work trip to Europe scheduled for the following week. The culture shock was extreme. Suddenly I was back in California, back working with two former employers, and back hanging out with friends I’ve known for years, not at all like the always-unfamiliar world I lived in for months, constantly moving. I ran into someone at the office the first week who greeted me: “Oh, hi Colin! I haven’t seen you in a while. What have you been up to?” A short explanation like “I moved to Boston for a year and then I biked back” just doesn’t seem to capture it, ya know? Now solidly back in the context of real life, I’ve learned to appreciate that the afterglow of my adventure is mine alone to know and mine to savor. I’ve written this post four times over trying to describe it all.

Carson City


I left you last, dear Reader, at the end of The Loneliest Road in Fallon, Nevada, with about 350 miles left to the finish line. The ride from Fallon to Carson City started innocently enough except that I very confidently rode 15 miles in the wrong direction. I missed a turn and I only figured it out when I was halfway to Reno. That’s forgivable I think—it had been a week since there even was a turn to be had. When I got to Carson City just before nightfall, I met Ranger Don for dinner, and I was happy to take him up on his offer to host me. I camped on his floor. A former National Park Ranger at Alcatraz, Ranger Don is now a writer, and he lives in the historic (and haunted?) St. Charles Hotel across the street from the Nevada State House. We had great conversations over dinner and breakfast, which he insisted were his treat. Ranger Don gave me a tour of the historic district in the morning, and he took the opportunity to introduce me to many of his friends around town. Paraphrasing him: “It’s probably uncomfortable for you that I’m highlighting your achievement, but you’re inspiring all of these people! We should have more inspirations these days.” OK then!


Ranger Don is more talkative with strangers than I tend to be. In the Nevada State House museum, he struck up a conversation with two lovely women who were themselves traveling through town, and I joined in. Jan and Kim, sisters, travel around the country for about a month each summer. Jan keeps a terrific blog (Go Sassy Sisters!) chronicling their adventures. For each of their adventures, the sisters mostly follow a set of rules that we should probably all live by. Among them, my favorites:

  • Talk to strangers, the stranger the better
  • Always stop for ice cream, regardless of the hour
  • Drive on two-lane roads as much as possible
  • Stop and see any attraction that costs less than $5, especially if it has great billboards

They recalled passing me the day before on US-50, and they passed me later that afternoon too, honking hello as they said they would, as I was climbing Spooner Pass toward Lake Tahoe.

Achieving California

Almost daily for the entire year before, I imagined what it would feel like to complete my cross-country ride. I had a hundred guesses for what that it would feel like to truly earn that view of the Pacific I already loved. I only knew that whatever I could imagine was probably wrong.

It’s a weighty concept, the End. It conjures a crush of memories of the hard roads both figurative and literal that came before: the motivation that was forged in a cold and lonely winter, the physical pain I fought through, the dangers I felt, the fear I learned to manage, the new strengths I found, the honest surprise that I was even capable of any of this, and the relief that somehow I’m still alive. At the beginning, I had all the drive in the world but admittedly little idea what I was getting myself into, yet somehow I still made it. My friend Matt Conway, whom I met on the ride to Montreal, framed that really well:

“Wow, so, so great. I vividly remember you telling me on the Bostreal that you were going to ride to SF. You were like, sure I just took a bike repair class at Broadway, bought this here bike and in a couple weeks I am riding to Cali. I was like sandals, a new bike and a plan—I guess that’s how you do it. Sure enough that’s how you do it.”

It hit me all at once, not on the last day like I had always thought, but on the first sighting of California. The last big climb of the trip was out of Carson City over Spooner Summit to South Lake Tahoe, 3,300 ft up and 1,700 ft down in an afternoon. The summit itself was unremarkable save for the welcome return of trees to the landscape after 900 miles of desert. But after that, on the way down, bike cruising at 35+ mph, when the lake first came into view with its far shore, the unmistakable: My California. I cried instantly with tears blasted straight back over my ears. I shouted, I laughed, and I wore the world’s best smile all the way down to the shoreline.


When I got to my hotel in South Lake Tahoe, I noticed that the Sassy Sisters had reached to me through this very blog to invite me to join them for dinner. Since meeting them earlier that day, Jan had found my blog, and she read the whole thing out loud as they were driving to Lake Tahoe themselves that afternoon. It turned out we were staying near each other, and well, their rule is that they like to talk to strangers: the stranger the better! So I met them again at a restaurant along with their friend Laura, whom they were staying with. All three are a riot to hang out with. Laura drove me home after dinner so I could avoid dealing with the traffic, but it meant I had to cram my bike into an SUV rather quickly and reassemble it on the other side. For all of that and for being perhaps a colorful character in their journey as they were colorful characters in mine, I got an honorable mention in Jan’s blog too: Carson City, Colin, and Cozy Cabin.

I took a day off in South Lake Tahoe, the first since Denver. At first, I considered riding the circuit around the lake for the day, then I thought better. I definitely earned some beach time. And good food. And about five naps.

I made it to Sacramento from the state line in one crazy day: a grand return to sea level. It was 110 miles with a mile of climb and more than two miles’ decent. The first half of that was on US-50, including a shortcut at Echo Summit on the advice of a local cyclist to follow the original route of the old Lincoln Highway. The road was stunningly beautiful all day.

It sounded like such a good idea to take US-50 to continue the trajectory I had started in Nevada, but I had as many close calls in two hours there as I did in all of Illinois. The truck traffic is high, the turns are tight, and the margins were sometimes narrower than my 32 mm tires. I had the feeling that I was asking for trouble at the narrowest and twistiest part, so at one point I got off the road for a few minutes by half-climbing a wall of rubble with my bike so I could wait to until I didn’t hear any trucks coming. At least then, I could control the situation.

Distracted drivers are still, and always, a clear and present danger. On the decent from the Sierra Nevadas, road construction constricted travel to a single lane at one point. At least four highly-visible orange signs warned for miles ahead: “Watch for stopped traffic.” When I found that stopped traffic, I stopped too, right in line, but after several peaceful seconds, I heard a loud squeal of rubber-on-asphalt directly behind me, and I found myself suddenly off the side of the road. I had jumped, instinctively, with my 75-lb bike still between my legs. When I turned to see what had happened, there was an SUV occupying the same space where I had just been, and inside, an embarrassed driver wouldn’t look at me. I wish I could tell you that I was mad, or scared, but I wasn’t exactly; I just moved up the side of the line of cars to the front, wanting nothing more than distance between me and whatever that situation was. I stopped next to the first car in line, a pick-up truck. The driver of the truck looked straight at me like he was terrified. He rolled down the window, still staring at me wide-eyed, and he said only: “HE ALMOST KILLED YOU!” Somehow he saw what had just happened, or what had almost happened, and he was shell-shocked. Maybe I was too, except that by then, after 3K miles of that shit, I couldn’t muster the same alarm. Not ten miles later as I was traveling about 20 mph in the shoulder, an RV swerved sharply over the white line directly in front of me, then swerved back over the yellow line, back into the shoulder, back over the median, then wobbled a few more times before it could correct its path in the lane. The driver must have swerved so hard to the left to avoid me that he over-compensated by swerving back to the right, almost losing control over his building-on-wheels. I hope I never need to be that lucky again.

I spent a great two nights and a day in Sacramento with family: Tony, Marianne, and Anthony. It had been almost two years since I had seen them. Tony and his best friend Jeff and I went kayaking at Lake Clementine in the afternoon. Their kayaks were still new and quite nice, and of course they were the kind that use foot pedals to move around.

The last of the big rides was 80 miles from Sacramento to Vallejo. It was beastly hot, and I hopscotched between cafes and gas stations the whole way in the 120 °F heat. A very cool barista at Putah Creek Cafe in Winters, CA, wouldn’t let me pay for my snack and about six glasses of ice water, but I certainly left a nice tip especially as a thank you. When I descended the last big hill into Vallejo, I had arrived officially in the Bay Area, and I stopped for the night just a few miles from the ferry that would take me across the bay in the morning.

The ferry ride was surreal. My head was swimming in all the profoundness of finally and officially making it home, even while most everyone else around me was simply starting a normal Saturday.

When the ferry docked, I retrieved my bike from the storage area to find that the front tire was flat. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I managed to get my fourth and final flat tire of the journey on a ferry. On the very last day. I met friends at the Ferry Building. Brok and Courtney found me right as I stepped off the pier onto solid ground. My friends Jamie and Skye, who didn’t know each other before but who had also just relocated from Boston, were right around the corner with their bikes waiting to join me for the last ten miles to the beach.

But first, that flat tire. It took a while to fix; my tires were once again studded with thorns that I had to pull out with tweezers, and I pinched and punctured a couple of new tubes too before I got it right. Jamie provided a welcome set of extra hands, and Brok kept himself busy taking excellent candid shots with my phone, making the fourth flat by far the best-documented of the trip!

I had the honor of leading Skye and Jamie on their first bike tour along the edge of the Golden Gate. I jumped into tour guide mode for some of that, and I mostly enjoyed SF anew through their eyes. It was hard to remember that it was not just any Saturday.

I had been wondering about the logistics at the beach for some time. It’s a very wide expanse of sand, and heavily-loaded bikes don’t exactly roll through it. Skye and Jamie were both such good sports because they had to drag their bikes through the sand to the shore too because none of us had adequate bike locks to leave them by the road. My friends Anh and Reinaldo were waiting at the beach for us. We found them, and then, well, it was time for the End.

The day I arrived was the hottest in recorded San Francisco history at something like 106° F. (The city’s weather is famous for maintaining a relatively tight temperature range, nearly always a bit uncomfortably cool.) The ocean is very cold in Northern California since the current draws water from Alaska. But the sun was so hot that day that even the cold Pacific waters felt just right. Half the city, it seemed, was on the beach, and in the water! I had never seen anything like it before. I went swimming in the ~60° F water at least five times throughout the day. And once—not even kidding—dolphins swam by about 200 ft away.

I brought no expectations with me for my big return to San Francisco, but I ended up with the most perfect of days with some really good friends. I remember holding my bike up above my head to follow that famous tradition, and just like the picture below shows, for the first time, that bike felt weightless.


With Support From “Viewers Like You”

I never, ever felt alone. So many of you sent me texts, read my blog, asked me where I was, or just let me know you were watching, and it was all I ever needed. Jon Ramos checked in almost daily at first, and occasionally after to remind me of the cheer that started every day on the ride to Montreal. “Today’s ride is going to be great!” Marcie wanted to know what city I was in most days so she and her son Baron could track me on a map. My cyclist friends Pam and Ed Rowland and Glen Cunningham wrote with advice for problems they read that I had. And my cousin Jen called me one day out of the blue just because she had a feeling that I might need to talk. We’re close, but we’ve never talked on the phone before. I was in Emporia, Kansas, I had just realized I would have to stop, and I was reeling inside.


There were hundreds of ways that my friends and family supported me all the way, and quite frankly, that’s gotta be the best takeaway from the whole thing. It takes a village.

Thank you.

My “Good Luck Charm”

I had a “good luck charm” that I carried the whole way too, compliments of my dear friend Marcie. She mailed it to me in Boston, and I opened the envelope the morning I left. It’s really in the pictures from that day, and her husband Tim was there to witness it in person along with Marcie and their son Baron via video chat. I’m not much of a believer in luck, but Marcie was insistent that I have this thing, so what could I do but humor her? I honestly didn’t realize what it was until I felt the envelope.


It was a rubber snake. The snake has a history all the way back to at least 2005 when Marcie and I first started to be good friends in college. She used to spook easily, and I’m devious, so I tried to scare her once with a random rubber snake someone gave me. But she’s competitive too, so she took it and she scared me back with it. That snake has been a lot of places since: it came out on her plate at a restaurant, it was in a cake, and occasionally it scared people who were not its intended target. I hadn’t seen or heard about it in years, and I assumed it was lost. Ha! You got me. So now the snake has toured the US by bike, and it sent back some tourist pics when it felt like it.


What it feels like

My first visceral conception of this journey was on a flight from Boston to Las Vegas last November, which was the first time I returned to the West after leaving six months earlier. Not just in work, but in life, I sorely needed a bigger challenge from where I found myself then, and while I rested the side of my head against the plastic window looking down, I wished purely and deeply for all hardest days on those roads, to live that struggle somewhere down there steeped in realness, away for a while from planes and personal politics and emails. Now that journey is part of my past.

This year as my plans became incremental achievements, I spent a lot of time wondering what it would feel like to have done this thing. By my first window-seat daydreams, I first thought I might find fulfillment or some degree of confidence I couldn’t know otherwise. Later during the dark Boston winter, I wondered if I would feel lost at the other end, if perhaps I might let my expectations rise too high. After I hit my first thousand-mile marker and things were going well, it was fun to imagine that an epic triumph was waiting ahead. Then after the close calls in Illinois, I had to acknowledge the possibility that I might not get the end I wanted after all. In Kansas, dear Kansas, the time finally did come when it was obviously too dangerous to continue the way I had dreamed, in a pure, unbroken line. I was under-prepared for a lengthy heat wave and I was too time-inflexible to wait it out.

My ride from Denver to San Francisco was a wholly different experience than everything that came before. I had a deadline and a task I thought was probably impossible for me to accomplish. Every day was long and hard, but if Kansas was a failure, then I couldn’t let myself fail twice by not making it to San Francisco in time. To have any hope of succeeding, I let my body become simply a machine to turn calories into miles, which left my mind more free to wander than it’s ever been before. Time was rhythmic and so abundant that I relaxed any care for efficiency in my thoughts. I spent stupid amounts of time exploring how and why I was angry at myself for Kansas, which I had let become a symbol of so many other frustrations. No avenue of inquiry was off-limits for fear that I might discover something unpleasant. You almost can’t be more vulnerable or exposed than when you’re alone in the middle of the desert with nothing but a simple machine to save you. At some point, I probably picked up each major happy, embarrassing, proud, and disappointing memory I have as if it were a toy block. I would hold it for a while, turn it upside down, and inspect it with disinterest. I put each block back down again too. There were no rules on how long I could hold one of the blocks, and I could go back to any block I wanted whenever I felt like it. Of course all of these blocks make me who I am, even though in normal life, I (and I’m sure we all) tend to celebrate some parts of ourselves and ignore others. You can’t hide from yourself on a bike in the desert, which is precisely why it’s such a great thing to try.

In the end, or at least at this point two months later, I feel parts of all the things I guessed I would feel, but none of those descriptors—confident, lost, triumphant, disappointed, or happy—quite captures it, even when combined together. Mostly I’d say I simply know myself better for having done this. If I could describe my own greater knowledge-of-self and comfort-with-self by analogy to a structure, I would say that somewhere between Boston and San Francisco, I built, reinforced, and polished a beautiful tall ship in a bottle that will stay there, protected and unremovable, forever.

I found a theme song on my ride. I wasn’t looking for one, but it found me. I can’t pretend to have ever understood all the lyrics, but I promise that halfway up any mountain, when you’re in pain, you’re alone, and you’re tired, it helps to remember that you can do whatever it takes.