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“Climb that damn mountain”

“Climb that damn mountain”

I bought my first “real” bike in 2013 from a nice guy named ‘Shane’ in Galloway, Ohio.  It was used, 15-year old Specialized Alley that cost $300.  It was a birthday gift from my father, Milt, who was a year into his battle against stage four brain cancer – Glioblastoma.  I was determined to ride 100 miles in his honor in an event called “Pelotonia” with my brother, Mike.

Mike Schott, Dad (Milt Schott), Nate Schott — my favorite Pelotonia memory from first ride in 2013. Dad was at finish line to greet us before passing away 3 months later from brain cancer. Special moment.

That summer, Mike and some of our closest friends all did our best attempt to “train” and learn the open road in an effort to conquer 100 miles.  Most of us wore gym shorts instead of bike shorts and ignored the fact that we could get “clips” for our pedals.  

When the Friday of our first Pelotonia finally arrived in August of 2013, the nerves were full force in all of us and the reality set in… we were going to ride our bikes for 7+ hours – something none of us had ever gotten close to doing in the past.

We all faced pain and a long hot day, but all managed to cross the 100-mile mark in Gambier successfully (even if it did take one my best friends 9 hours and 57 minutes…)  It was a grit fest, but we all knew why we were riding – to save lives.

The finish line was and still remains a moving moment.  Family, friends, and strangers – all deeply connected by their own journeys and a shared purpose.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but that first Pelotonia experience also set a “new bar” for my life.  It helped me realize that setting bold goals, working hard, overcoming fear and, ultimately, accomplishing those goals was an amazing feeling.  I learned that embracing discomfort and embarking on experiences like Pelotonia are truly what grow you in life.

In 2014, I not only upped the mileage to 180 for my second Pelotonia, but I also signed up for my first Triathlon.  I was a swimmer in High School, I had become a cyclist… all I had to do was learn how to run.  That year, I conquered 180 miles in Pelotonia and started running 5Ks and 10Ks.  I was becoming addicted to pushing my boundaries, physically and mentally – each moment was a step forward in life, quite literally:

  • In 2015, I accomplished my first Olympic Triathlon and Half Marathon.
  • In 2016, I cycled to the top of Mt. Lemon in Tucson and accomplished a full Ironman in Lake Placid. 
  • In 2017, I accomplished two half Ironman and brought some friends along to join me.

In 2018, I was ready for a new challenge.  Conveniently, I got a call from one of my best friends and fellow Pelotonia rider, Eric. He shared a classmate of his had just climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and that he thought we should look into it as well.  This hadn’t crossed my mind, ever, but immediately thought it would be an awesome challenge.

Six months later in September 2018, I landed in Tanzania with Eric and three other good friends to make the trek to the top of Kili.  It was a 6 six-day hike and one of the most challenging adventures yet.  

The night before we climbed to the peak, I wrote this note in my iPhone: “As I lay in my tent at 11:15PM, I feel an incredible weight of anxiety as we prepare to get ready to hike the Summit.  It is windy, dark and cold.  We are to rely on our headlamps, guides and strength to get to the top.  I’ve never been this scared in my life.  However, I KNOW I can do this with the right mindset.  LETS GO ******* CONQUER THIS MOUNTAIN.”  

I remember the feeling hiking to the Summit of the mountain so vividly, it was one of the most mentally and physically challenging moments of my life.  To summarize – it was a six hour, non-stop climb up 4,000 feet of elevation (to the peak of nearly 20,000 feet) from midnight to 6AM in the pitch black, freezing temperatures and high winds.  We all battled altitude sickness, among many other challenges.

In that moment, although I felt blindsided and scared, I’ve actually never been more prepared in my life, mentally.  In fact, I had been preparing for this moment through events like Pelotonia and Ironman – it was just in a different setting this time.  

The moral of the story – although it is scary, it is all worth it in the end and you get stronger each time by overcoming fear.

I’m really proud to say that I took another step forward on Kilimanjaro.  I can and will now leverage this experience everyday; I have a new capacity for life and only want more.  Just like after my first Pelotonia ride in 2013.

Onward and upward. 

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing the lawn.  Climb that damn mountain.”  – Jack Kerouac.

** Nate Schott is a 6-year rider and co-captain of the grassroots Peloton, Simply Community.  He has been a team member at BeecherHill, a retained executive search firm, since 2013 and currently serves as a senior director and chief of staff.  He is also the Founder of the food truck, Nate’s Steamed Bagels, which gives back a portion of its proceeds to Pelotonia.  

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