Sunday, July 09, 2006


Date: July 5, 7 and 8
Mileage: 34.8, 26.4 and 25.5
July mileage: 190.4

Sorry for my absence. I spent a few days wallowing in indecision, like an uncomfortable dreamer locked in a losing fight for consciousness.

It's a strange state of discomfort - never quite in the moment, yet never able to completely let my mind wander. I'd stare vacantly at the back of the cereal box or watch my cat cross the yard and wonder where my mind had been, where it was now, what had I been thinking about before, did I draw any conclusions, what did I want to eat for dinner tonight, would it really be all that unhealthy to eat cold cereal again ... Finally, I'd give up and go for a bike ride.

That's how I did all of my riding this week - just sort of set out without really deciding to. That's the consequence of having a big decision to make. It erodes your ability to even make even the smallest decisions, decisions that are usually unconscious pieces of an everyday routine. One minute, I'd agonize over whether to take out the trash or wait until tomorrow. The next, I'd be spinning my mountain bike down Diamond Ridge and wondering how exactly I got there.

As a result, I generally had no idea where I was going. So I've been frequenting some old winter haunts - places I hadn't even thought to ride since breakup gave way to summer because, well, it just isn't that appealing to ride a full suspension mountain bike on a smooth gravel road when there are so many clear trails and good pavement opened up. But when autopilot kicked in, I'd find myself coasting down roads I'd ridden dozens of times - when they were cold, and barren, and covered in ice.

On Friday evening - before a long insomniactic night of rockabilly at Kharacters and dancing with spit rats who chided me for my "affluence" (because I have a washer and dryer) - I had a rare moment of clarity at the top of Ohlson mountain. I had been really lost in thought for the better part of an hour before. I remember little of the 13 miles that took me there and only vaguely recall the switchbacking climb to the top - mostly in short gasps. But I do remember standing beside a grove of lupine at the summit, emerging from my stupor just long enough to realize how lush and blindingly green everything was - as though I had expected the snow and silence and gray.

It really surprised me - not because the view was beautiful (although it was) but because my expectations of it deviated so drastically from the obvious. It's July, I thought, and I'm in Alaska, and I've been here 10 months, and I've never taken the time to really look at a devil's club blossom, and it's already July. Suddenly, everything around me had a thrilling sort of novelty.

Sometimes I become so mired in the miles, the routine, that I fail to notice my world changing all around me. Such is the root of all indecision.


  1. I love those little flashes of clarity that occur! Thanks for the good wishes and kick some tail in the Soggy Bottom!

  2. We have a spare washer and dryer. That must rank us up there with Bill and Melinda.

  3. Yep, I've been "mired in the miles" myself, and missed things happening around me too. I've now been riding without a cycle computer for three weeks (simply because I'm too lazy to fix it), and it's amazing just what I'd missed in that time.


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