Summer a season of challenges
Summer as a time of setting goals and meeting challenges was the subject of my recent travel section in which readers heard from a man about to set off on a 500-mile dirt bike challenge over the peaks of the Rockies, an attorney who made a pair of back-to-back 100 mile treks of the Appalachian Trail (one with a group of Boy Scouts) and a retiree setting off on the Way of St. James, a 1,000 year-old pilgrimage by foot over the Pyrenees from France and across the north of Spain to the cathedral at Santiago where St. James is interred. Read those adventures in the August 9 travel section.
I had several challenges of my own this summer among them an attempt to recreate the four-wheel drift I first mastered in my MGA sports-car in 1965 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Scott Jerpbak, 50, is an adrenaline junky who gets his kicks astride a 40-horsepower motorcycle, this summer on the Colorado 500, an invitation only charity ride. He works out at a gym five days a week to stay in shape for the challenge of wrestling a 230-pound dirt bike on slick and rocky trails, often covering more than 100 miles a day.
Attorney Bob Boyd, 60, hikes part of the Appalachian Trail each summer in the company of scouts in Boy Scout Troop 75. The past few years he’s made a second 100 mile hike with the “Geezers,” three men who usually accompany the scouts. The Geezer hikes are usually more challenging and often dangerous. Boyd says the boys learn the mental discipline of sticking to something when the going gets rough. “It rained every day on our hike this summer,” he said. But he enjoys the hike more each year.
Bill O’Connor mostly fears blisters on his 500-mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage this year. He’s been hiking 15 miles a day to prepare for it. Much of the trail passes through small towns on established footpaths where lodging is in monasteries and hostels. It’s not likely he and his companion will have to carry food but they will need to carry water, which weighs a lot. His wife will meet him in Santiago and they’ll continue on together to Finisterre, which early pagans considered to be the end of the earth.
My go-kart race at Road America was empowering even though I didn’t achieve the four wheel drift I sought. I’m sure part of the reason is that go-karts don’t have stick shifts like my little sports car did. It’s also at least partly because I’m 50 years older now and needed help getting out of the go-kart when I finished. But I did finish and as all those chasing challenges this summer will tell you, just hanging in there to finish is half the battle.