It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
As the bells of the clock tolled out 5:45 the Four Spokesmen of the Apocalypse assembled to embark on the journey those men 1,000 years from today will still not be able to speak of. We all knew as we left our huts that morning, and turned to bid our families what could be our final farewells, that we may never come back. And if we were fortunate enough to return, we would be nothing but the hollow shell of what we once were. This would be the epic journey of a lifetime, it would tear the very souls of lesser men from their bodies and it would be the ultimate test of our collective humanity.
We rolled silently from the Hollander, each man trying to process what lay ahead: the hors catégorie Col de Hillcrest – the highest mountain pass in Wauwatosa. Would an early snowfall block our safe passage? Would we be forced to wait out the storm in a makeshift bivouac for months on end as the subzero winds tore the flesh from our weakened corpus?
The southern approach from La Calle de State was desolate, barren and eerily quiet. Thankfully, the ice storms had held off, if only for this very moment. We summited, and stopped to collect our thoughts. The oxygen was dangerously thin; we all instinctively knew to keep our movements limited to those of absolute necessity. Moments passed and then, wiping away tears, we descended. The cold wind tore at our very cells, exposing our frailness to the elements. A quick right turn, and then another and another. One complete circumnavigation became another like an endless, dizzying dream. When we could take no more, one man emerged from the shadows. It was Sir Leach. His heart heavy and his steed weary, he turned away and heaved his rig into the shadows, plunging into the blackness like a demon possessed… disappearing in an instant. Only God knows what he encountered when he faced down death’s ugly breath on that solo junket, but when he returned he was a changed man.
Once again, we rolled away together in the silence – each man contemplating his own fortune. From there, the route took us North to a small village. It was there, after travelling 34,056 feet without a single moment’s rest, that the journey came to its abrupt end. We dismounted at the quarters of the local demitasserie, Señorita S’Bux. She welcomed us in, and prepared for us hot mead and scones. There was so much to say – would anyone believe in our accomplishments? How would the world process what we had done on that fateful day? Will Oakley kick Lance’s sorry ass to the curb? Only history can accurately document the saga that was “the 6 mile coffee ride.”