Geoff had a big day planned today - a 25-mile trail run or something equally crazy. I was jealous. I think it's what I miss the most about the months when I did a lot of cycling - that supreme satisfaction of embarking on a long day. Some days, when everything is dialed in perfect, the miles only stoke the energy fire and I feel like I could move forward forever. Other days, I slip into a bonk coma and struggle and struggle and struggle, but when I stumble home and crash, I know I earned it.
So I wanted to do my own long day in my own long way ... something low-impact and scaled down and knee-friendly, but ~25 miles just the same.
I started at my gym with a brand new book, "Driving Mr. Albert" and a copy of the Backpacker gear issue, which is what I spent most of my time reading. I hadn't been on the elliptical machine more than a minute when the gym maintenance guy called out from across the room, something about wanted to check the wheel. I stopped pedaling and turned to face him as he bee-lined toward me, and the rowing machine that separated him from me, and he wasn't slowing down. Just as I opened my mouth to ask what was wrong, he slammed his shin into the rowing machine and tumbled forward. I saw for a fraction of a second his face, filled with pure shock and terror, and then he went down, slamming his head into the back of my machine.
I hopped off and stuttered, "Are ... you OK?" He was on his knees with his hands over his right eye, and I could see blood gushing from the spaces between his fingers. "Oh no ... you need to go to the hospital." I looked desperately over at the front counter, where a woman had seen the whole thing and was rushing over to help him. I held out my hand but he was already on his feet, grumbling "I'll be fine" and dancing around the front counter woman, who looked as though she might try to pry his hands away from his face. They walked together to the desk, where she gave him a gym towel, and then they disappeared down the stairs. And all the while I just stood there, a little slack-jawed, wondering "what now?" It says something about life ... that everything we do is, by default, a risk, and nowhere is truly safe ... the wilderness, the highways, my climate-controlled gym. And it also says something about me that I got right back on the same machine - the one that elicited such an extreme response to begin with - and pedaled away.
(I did inquire about the man when the front-counter woman returned. She said he wouldn't go to the hospital, but the cut on his forehead seemed to have stopped bleeding and he had one hell of a shiner.) Pedal-Run: 2 hours 20 minutes; 18.5 miles.
I came home, ate some lunch and then headed up the Dan Moller trail with my snowshoes on my back. The snowline is already much higher than it was just a week ago, although in the steady drizzle I think I saw new flakes falling just above treeline. Where the snowpack has melted, the skunk cabbage is blooming. Hiking in Juneau is much more treacherous in the summer ... mostly mud and snaking roots and slimy wooden planks that provide close to zero traction. I have to admit I was happy to reach elevation and see winter again ... soft, forgiving winter. Hike/Snowshoe: 2 hours, 45 minutes; 7.5 miles; 2,000 feet elevation gain.
Not really to the level of Geoff's long day. After all, I'm not the one who came home and ate five different dinners. But there's something there. Something I've been missing. Some kind of risk-taking that drives the satisfying life.
I guess it's the "holiday" weekend now. I say so because it's not my holiday weekend. Going back to work tomorrow. And even though everyone is pedaling and fishing and sipping margaritas on houseboats in Lake Powell, I just wanted to say to the six people out there who share my unfortunate schedule and are sitting in empty offices and blogging ... "Happy Memorial Day."