In 2014, Alex Honnold and I climbed all of the 14,000 foot peaks in California by bike. It was a terrible idea, and earned the short film that I directed and produced about the trip the title Sufferfest. Last spring, when Alex Honnold and I decided to do it all over again, the next best terrible idea for Sufferfest 2 was born — a 900 mile, bike powered expedition to climb 45 desert towers through the four corners of the American Southwest. From our last bike adventure, we knew to expect the unexpected, but nothing could have prepared for just how unexpected it could be this time around!
It all started when I parked my bike to relieve myself. As I stood there taking a piss on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere without a sign of civilization for twenty miles, I heard a faint whimpering. At first, it didn’t compute. But eventually I realized that it was the whimpering of a dog.
I followed the whimpering noise to an old tire, and inside I found one of the cutest puppies I’ve ever seen. Some heartless soul had tossed the little guy on the side of the road, and he’d crawled into the tire to get out of the gale force winds that would become a major theme of our bike trip. Obviously I couldn’t leave our suffer pup there, so I scooped him up and he suckled some water off of my thumb.
I dubbed the lucky little guy “Suffer Pup” and he instantly became the adorable little mascot of our Sufferfest. That evening, with no dog food to feed him, I reasoned he’d still be suckling mother’s milk, and the closest thing we had to milk was string cheese. It turns out Suffer Pup loved string cheese and soon, over the next couple of days he stopped shivering and shaking and regained strength and vigor.
We kept Suffer Pup with us for the rest of our epic adventure, and the film crew helped look after him while Alex and I were up on the wall. My wife went to work back home looking for a home for Suffer Pup. When I returned from our trip, Suffer Pup moved to Denver where he eats organic dog food and hangs out with his new best friend Molly, a German Shepard. While Suffer Pup was lucky that we found him, I would say that we were just as lucky to find him, because one of the best parts of our movie is definitely the Suffer Pup segment, and I think National Geographic did a great job of telling his remarkable story.
Photos courtesy of Cedar Wright are from he and Alex Honnold’s Sufferfest excursions. Buy Sufferfest 1 & 2 on Vimeo on Demand.