The King of Adventure Stares Down Death
A rodeo cowboy, skydiver, firefighter, ultramarathoner and motorcycle racer, Coach Stroud is a 71-year-old badass. And he’s determined to die on his own terms.
“That’s it,” Stroud told me, gesturing to the place he planned to die. It was a good spot — the crest of a grassy hill, surrounded by an ancient forest of towering trees, with a clear view of the wooded valley rolling beyond. Nearby, a creek sang over the moss and rocks, and the mountains rose green and silent in the Oregon sky.
“You know, there’s a beginning, a middle, and an end,” he mused, looking out over the valley. “And if you live the middle part right, the end is not so tragic.”
Over the course of his 71 years, Ramey “Coach” Stroud has striven to live the middle part right.
He’s one of those characters that seems plucked straight out of an adventure novel, his story a collection of madcap escapades, whirlwind romances, and feats of derring-do. Looming large in Stroud’s childhood memories is his Uncle Roy, a lanky desert cowboy — quiet, except when he had something to say. He wore a big hat and boots and had a slow way of talking.
“Ramey,” Uncle Roy would say,…