Friday, May 18, 2007

Making 10 miles count

Today I got to ride 10 miles. I like my new incremental cycling plan, because it keeps me happy without feeling too reckless. I self-impose mileage maximums, and as long as I force myself to stick to them, I can convince myself that no harm has been done (whether or not actual harm has been done is, I think, secondary to perceived success.)

This morning, however, I looked outside and knew that keeping to my maximum was going to prove a huge challenge ... not a cloud in the sky, sunlight pouring down and a thermometer that had climbed above 60 degrees. These warm, sunny days are so rare that I can't say I've seen a second one in all of the nine months I've lived in Juneau. It was not the kind of day to spend spinning on a road bike for a half hour. So I thought ... how can I turn eight miles into an excursion that would fill up an entire morning? I came up with a four-part plan:

1. Pick a technical trail that I know will keep me slow and honest, like Dredge Lake.

2. Stick to the tightly-wound singletrack. While squeezing between tree trunks, I almost crushed my fingers more than once. I am so out of practice.

3. Take a lot of extended sightseeing breaks. I rode this trail system often in December and January, but everything looks completely different now. It was like discovering a new place.

4. Actively seek out anything that will make me slower. The trails traverse a swampy glacial moraine, so I hit a lot of stretches that looked like this.

I love this kind of stuff. My bike's drivetrain does not love me.

I had planned to ride only eight miles, and technically I did ride only eight miles on my bad knee. I bailed off the trail at mile 8.2 and took the road back to the trailhead. For good measure, I unipedalled the entire last two miles. I pushed hard with one leg and kept my speed above 13 mph. It was the best lung workout I've had in months.

I bought a new camera yesterday, so more than anything, the ride was an excuse to try out my new toy. I went to Costco and drooled for a while over the 10 megapixel Canons with 10X zoom and detachable lenses. I wanted to get something nice that would take great pictures. In the end, I bought the bombproof compact model. It's an Olympus Stylus 725 SW, waterproof to 15 feet under and shockproof up to a 5-foot freefall. Today, after spontaneously whipping it out of my pocket while swiveling my handlebars through knee-deep swamp water, I knew I had made the right decision.

Depending on how this ride goes over, I think I will bicycle 12-15 miles on Sunday. It's arguable that eight miles of singletrack and two miles of unipedalling does not exactly equal a chill 10-mile ride, and I was not exhibiting as much self-control as I'd like to think ... but I'll leave that verdict up to the jury of perceived success.

Now ... off to enjoy a picnic, a short walk and the rest of this beautiful day.


  1. Dude,
    Really sorry to hear it's such a long haul recovering.
    I totally relate. I seem to have torn my piriformis muscle, which is under my glute muscle.
    The doctor said I should be totally inactive (except for swimming) for three months.
    I've managed to cut my bike commuting in half by taking the bus, but I will not stop riding.
    Unfortunately, that kind of thick headedness is probably what will make recovery take a lot longer... but you've gotta do what you gotta do to stay sane...
    Hope you get better.

  2. Lovely pics Jill. Looks a great place to ride when the sun is out :)

  3. "spontaneously whipping it out of my pocket while swiveling my handlebars through knee-deep swamp water"

    Holy bike handling skills! I can only do that on smooth roads - and only some of the time.

  4. I remember the first time my friend B-Mac saw me pull my ringing cell phone out of jersey pocket, flip it open, answer it and replace it...all while riding offroad. We got skillz, girlie!

    Great pics and looks like a fun trail. Maybe I'll have to travel to Alaska someday!

  5. jill, what kind of camera is that? those pictures are amazing!

    not to say that you don't have really good eye, and the scenery is spectacular. but i'm curious about the camera.

  6. You know, every time I go out for a ride or hike here in Colorado, I thank my lucky stars for being able to live here. Then I check out the pics on your blog, and I think, "Colorado sucks..." (well, I'd never go THAT far...)

    Great pics, and it looks like a great ride.

  7. Thanks guys...

    Lauren, that camera I had is the one I mentioned, an Olympus Stylus 725 SW. I bought it for its bombproof capabilities, but I agree, the colors and definition aren't half bad. Especially since I don't have photo editing software, this is an appreciated feature. Can't wait to play with it some more.

  8. Jill - Great choice on the camera. I have the 720SW which I keep as a pocket cam for those spontaneous times when I don't have the larger set up along. It has been a godsend many times... I think you will like it.

  9. beautiful photographs

    it was a dislocated shoulder that got me to start taking pictures of the dc cycling culture
    the dislocated shoulder and the images on the cycling blogs around the world
    yours and timmyps from colorado had me realizing that my everday images are as worth sharing as those from alaska or colorado


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