71 to 71: Locals will try an intimidating mountain bike ride for a cause
Ryan Peerboom / The Daily News
Time is undefeated and always will be. People can do their best to fight it and delay aging for as long as possible, but eventually time catches up with everyone.
Jim LeMonds and Bob Hornes are two of those people who struggle with the inevitability of time, and for the time being, they are winning. LeMonds and Horness will both turn 71 in August. To celebrate – or perhaps to deny the fact that they are getting old at all – they embark on a 71-mile ATV ride over rough terrain and in several places.
The ride, which starts at midnight Friday morning, isn’t the first time LeMonds has taken his bike to celebrate a milestone. It also celebrated its 50th and 60th birthdays with rides. This time he adds Hornes to his team.
“It started here with Bob and I having a beer after a ride which, when you do that, still makes it easy to talk about big things that might not be achievable,” LeMonds said with a laugh. .
The original plan was to make the trip last year for their 70th birthday, but the logistics of planning a ride like this and putting people in place to help were too difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The trick isn’t just for LeMonds and Horness to prove they’re not the middle 71; they also embark on this journey to raise funds for causes that are meaningful to each of them.
LeMonds, who lives in Castle Rock and has taught in the Longview School District for 30 years, dedicated his ride to his longtime friend and college roommate Mick Spane, who died in August 2020 of pancreatic cancer. Horness dedicated his ride to Paul Schublin, a close friend who served with Horness in Vietnam and is currently battling leukemia.
“It’s a pretty rare opportunity for Bob and I to be able to pay forward to this degree,” said LeMonds. “I raised $ 11,000 for charity on my 60th ride and we’re already at $ 20,500 right now and I think we have a legitimate chance of hitting $ 25,000.”
Mountain biking is a hobby – rather a passion – that LeMonds and Horness both picked up on later in life. The two cyclists believe they started their cycling journey around 45 years old. Since then, the duo have continued to ride and have found people their age to ride with.
“Our rider group is also made up of old guys,” said Hornes. “We’re pretty good to be 70, but the guys we ride with are 72, 74, 84.”
The group that LeMonds and Horness typically cycle with is about 15-20 people, but their extensive cycling network extends to over 100 riders.
“You tend to gravitate towards like-minded people,” LeMonds said. “So regardless of age, right down to young guys, they’re all people who are interested in fitness and aren’t afraid to get dirty.”
LeMonds said biking is a good way to keep that athletic edge for older competitors and that he believes he’s in better physical shape now than he was at 50.
“If you’ve always been in track and field, how long are you going to play recreational basketball? ” he said.
But that doesn’t mean it’s for the faint of heart.
“Mountain biking is an extremely difficult sport,” said LeMonds. “Either you stay in shape or you just can’t ride, especially with the guys we hang out with.”
Hornness, a retired Clatskanie resident who worked as a maintenance supervisor of the Clatskanie and Knappa school districts, agreed and mentioned the rude awakening he had when he started cycling before d ‘have his “bike legs”.
“I tried it and I was in the best shape of my life, and these guys got away from me on bikes and disappeared,” he recalls.
Despite the difficulty, LeMonds and Horness have encouraged and inspired people to pay more attention to their fitness and find ways to stay active in their later years.
“He doesn’t need to do that,” LeMonds said. “Just maybe do more than what you do. Maybe think about fitness a little more.
However, those who are interested in cycling should be prepared. It doesn’t come without its bumps and bruises; both had falls and LeMonds suffered multiple bone fractures and collapsed lungs due to some untimely accidents while commuting. Horness was luckier to avoid some of those injuries as a “good tuck-and-roll guy,” according to LeMonds.
“We are really lucky to have our good health,” said Hornes. “So part of that is telling people that doing something extraordinarily difficult is something you can hope for.”
But again, LeMonds warned that it takes some time to adjust to driving at a high level.
“We don’t see ourselves as elite athletes, but neither are we regular old guys,” he said. “It’s just what you can do in your own capacity to stay in shape. “
The journey itself is no small task. LeMonds has done longer road trips and training runs, but it’s the rough terrain that will be the main challenge for them on the trip.
“All of our ATV friends who are familiar with this hike, their eyes are raised as they understand the degree of difficulty,” said LeMonds.
For Horness, it will be the longest race he has ever attempted.
In total, the trek will be in three stages and they estimated it would take around 13-15 hours to complete the 71 mile journey.
LeMonds and Horness have been training for their merry-go-round for two years, but that doesn’t guarantee completion. They give themselves a 60-40 chance of completing the trip – 60% they do, 40% they fail.
“The amount of suffering we’re talking about here is extreme,” LeMonds said.
However, with their motivation and the purpose of the ride in mind, they prepared for the duress.
“Our suffering will be pale compared to those to whom we dedicate the ride,” Horness said.
The first leg of the hike begins at Marble Mountain Sno Park near Cougar and follows the Ape Canyon Trail before looping back and returning to Marble Mountain. The first leg will be approximately 30.5 miles and gain approximately 5,400 feet in elevation. They estimate that the opening stage will take seven to eight hours. As they start at midnight, they will use lights to guide their way, adding yet another challenge to the difficult terrain they already encounter.
LeMonds and Horness will then get into a van and take a break for an hour’s drive to the second leg of their journey along the River Lewis. The stage starts at Curly Creek and will continue to Lower Falls before returning to their starting point. The second stage is approximately 22.5 miles and involves 2,250 feet of climbing. The estimated completion time is five hours. While this is not the longest part of the course, LeMonds said it will be the hardest and if they fail it will happen on this stage due to the difficult intervals.
After that, they will board the van again and take a short 25 minute drive to Falls Creek for the last leg of the trip. The shortest of the peloton, this stage is 17.1 miles with a climb of 1,250 feet. They estimate that the last step will only take 2.5 hours.
Along the way, LeMonds and Horness will take 2-minute breaks every hour to refuel and rehydrate. They will have a lot of support and assistance along the way as the other runners will work with them to help them keep up with their pace and will also carry food, water and spare parts. A mechanic will also join them for the majority of the trip in case any of their bikes need repairs. A registered nurse will also be part of the travel team to keep an eye on the runners and ensure their health.
They expect a challenge, but LeMonds and Horness both have hats adorned with the sneaky phrase “If it was easy, any idiot could do it.” An inside joke that started between the two while they were working on the trail building.
LeMonds expects this ride to be the last hurray of sorts, as it will likely be the last time he tries a ride like this.
“We know this is the most important thing that we are going to do,” he said. “There won’t be a 72 or 80 route.”
How to help the cause
The duo selected five favorite charities for donations. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and the Leukemia Research Foundation are two such charities that are directly related to those to which the ride is dedicated. They also chose the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research, Clatskanie Senior Center, and Friends of the Castle Rock Library as other preferred options.
Donations can be made on the LeMonds website at writeteknorthwest.com.