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Showing posts from June, 2007

Perpetuation

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Date: June 29
Mileage: 36.2
June mileage: 598.2
Temperature upon departure: 61

So Geoff just casually announced to me today that he is planning to line up for the Great Divide Race next June.

And, um, I think he's serious.

And, um, I think I believe him. It's one thing to say such a thing a year in advance. It's quite another when Geoff says such a thing a year in advance.

And I thought I was climbing way out on a limb by announcing in the midst of a knee injury that I'd like to ride in the Ultrasport race to McGrath next February. Clearly, I have no concept of ambition. That, and Geoff has no concept of prudence.

I'm not sure how I feel about his intentions. On one hand, I'm excited, because I know him and I know it's something he could excel at, even with the odds stacked against him. I also know that he would put his whole heart and soul into it and be gone for weeks, if not months, to prepare for and participate in the GDR. That should probably bother me ... th…

Whew

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Date: June 28
Mileage: 22.3
June mileage: 562
Temperature upon departure: 67

What a week. I feel like I've been locked in a dead sprint since the morning we left for Whitehorse a week ago. Every second of that "vacation" was about moving moving moving. Then, to make up for it, every second since has been about working working working. So I sit at my desk stewing in a steambath of my own sweat because I work in a building with no air conditioning - which would never matter, if the sun would just go down once in a while. The deadline crunch weighs down when I have nothing but fumes left. My vision is blurry. My mind is oatmeal. And, to top it all off, my legs and arms have turned into a colorful cacophony of scratches and bruises ... most from collisions I don't even remember.

The best one yet happened the night before last. Unable to sleep in my bed, I was thrashing to and fro on the floor, nearly unconscious, when I somehow kicked the iron base of the bed with a force I d…

T-shirt not included

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I am feeling much better about my knee today. I put in an hour of interval "running" on the elliptical trainer and didn't even notice the kickback. The soreness seems to be fading almost as quickly as the after-ride fatigue. I think I just had to vent a little yesterday. It just wouldn't be my blog if I didn't complain about my knee.

I also spent a decent part of the morning pouring over the logistics of the Yukon Gold Ultra. It's a 100-mile mountain bike or trail run held in Whitehorse at the end of July. I had looked over elevation profiles and maps and rules and was nearly definite on wanting to do it until I came across the price.

$400 CDN. Ouch.

Triple-digit entry fees seem to be the norm for most ultra-biking events. I can't say I blame organizers. There's a huge amount of work involved in putting these races together - marking out dozens of miles of trail, positioning volunteers, enticing participants with T-shirts and decorative mugs. The price i…

Afterthoughts

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Date: June 26
Mileage: 13.2
June mileage: 539.7
Temperature upon departure: 66

Today was a downer day for sports fans. Three guys dropped out of the Great Divide Race, including the only two I've actually met - Dave Nice and Pete Basinger. I know this kind of thing is a given in a race as difficult as this, but now I feel like I have nothing left to look forward to in the GDR. I guess the way in which that superhuman JayP is calmly chipping away at the record is pretty exciting. Still, I'm a bit bummed. Le sigh.

This morning I felt fairly strong, so I thought I'd head out for the obligatory "recovery" ride to see how all the parts held up. I was thinking back to the 24 Hours of Light and how that ride couldn't have gone more perfectly for me. The highs were many and the lows were nonexistent. If there had been any low points during the event, I know I would have instantly used my bum knee as a reason to drop out. But the low points never came. No muscle fatigue. N…

Best ... 24 ... ever

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Date: June 23
Mileage: 95.4
June mileage: 536.5
Temperature upon departure: 18 C ?

So, I have a new theory. I haven't had much time to think about it, as Geoff and I walked off the race course at 1 p.m., took a quick shower, drove two and a half hours to Skagway and caught the 4:30 p.m. ferry to Juneau ... but I think I've figured out the perfect recipe for a unfailingly successful 24 hour race. First, bike like a maniac for 12 hours. Then party like a rock star for 12 hours. Seriously, you can't go wrong. Of course, Geoff thinks you should just bike like a maniac for 24 hours, net nearly 200 rough dirt miles and break the course record. But what does he know?

It also helps if, on the way to your race, you catch a motivating glimpse of a Yukon Cow. Bears and those northern Canada skeeters will keep you moving fast ...

So the 24 Hours of Light. Where even to begin with a race like this? Within one hour of arriving in Whitehorse, we had met up with the captain of a team-of-eight-…

The longest day

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"I'm an American on the Canadian Shield
And I'm putting down roots in your frozen fields
It gets cold but you feel so good to be a stranger in town
Where you're understood" - Sam Roberts

The sun rose today at 3:51 a.m. It set at 10:08 p.m. More than 18 hours of full daylight, six more of varying levels of twilight, but the day doesn’t really feel that long. It will this weekend.

I spent the morning prepping my bike, organizing my gear, debating whether or not I’m going to bring a frilly dress to wear during the late-night loops. I’m taking a minimalist mantra with the 24 Hours of Light - minimal effort, that is - so every second spent trying to pry rusted parts off my snow bike and not reading GDR updates felt like an indulgent waste of time. But I guess it is important that my mountain bike have some sort of headlight mounted on it, despite promises that there's no need (I know twilight can get dark 'neath the black spruce shadows.) Also better if I don'…

I am not my bike commute

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Date: June 20
Mileage: 36.3
June mileage: 441.1
Temperature upon departure: 53

It’s time for me to admit my secret shame.

I don’t bike commute to work.

I bike commute to a lot of other things. Barbecues. Errands. To get my sushi fix. Shopping (and I’m still trying to figure out a good way to haul a 36-pack of Diet Pepsi the five miles from Costco.)

But not to work. It’s three miles from my home. I ride right by the building every time I head to the Mendenhall Valley (which is often.) Still, I haven’t been able to cowboy up and straddle all of the obstacles that make riding to work and back on daily basis a mounting inconvenience.

I am so ashamed.

When I started riding again last month, I decided I was going to start working on the logistics that would allow me to phase out my car. Today I made a dry run to see what a typical bike commuting day would be like.

First of all, I planned to do a bit of extra riding beforehand and then meet a friend in the valley. Because I wasn’t going to make it hom…

Choices

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Date: June 18
Mileage: 25.1
June mileage: 404.8
Temperature upon departure: 49

Yesterday I penciled in a weightlifting session at the gym and this morning I scratched it out. Instead, I chose to go out for yet another bike ride. I chose to go for a ride because my eyelids felt as heavy as my legs. I chose to go for a ride because I should be “tapering” for whatever “race” I may be registered for this weekend. I chose to go for a ride because it was 49 degrees out. I chose to go for a ride because it was raining.

But I chose it, so therefore I’m free.

I moved against the wind at a decent clip, fighting my way north in a barrage of rainwater that didn’t concern me, with a slight chill that didn’t affect me. I chose the rainwater. I chose the chill. I chose the subtle pangs of muscle fatigue. I had nothing left to fear.

Beyond me was a world I cannot chose, so it is more fascinating than anything I can imagine. Drapes of clouds drooped over the mountains. Heavily weighted by water vapor, the cl…

Lead legs

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Date: June 17
Mileage: 35.4
June mileage: 379.7
Temperature upon departure: 54

Shortly after heading out for a ride this morning, I noticed a sensation that I haven't experienced in months: sluggish strokes, blood pumping like peanut butter, invisible weights wrapped around my shins ... lead legs.

Sure, it meant I was going to have a rough morning. But beyond that, I was pretty excited about the development. Lead legs without knee pain mean I have finally hit a point in recovery where I can tire out my muscles without overtaxing my joint. That they were tired out at the beginning of the day means I've been riding too much overall, but still ... that's training! Actual training. Oh happy, oh joy.

Truthfully, I haven't had any major knee pain since just before the calendar turned over to June. Weight training and stretching finally earned me the range of motion I need to turn pedals, and since then, it's just been a matter of doing so. My recent mileage spike might make it…

Biking with Geoff

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Date: June 16
Mileage: 30.7
June mileage: 344.3
Temperature upon departure: 65

Geoff and I both spend a lot of time cycling, but rarely together. There are several of reasons for this. Like many people, our schedules and abilities only brush together in thin strands. He works afternoons; I work evenings. He's training hard for serious races; I'm still leery about laying hard on the cranks. Geoff has technical experience that stretches back to the days when I still believed 10-speeds were the end-all of cycling; I ... well ... I'm still focused on keeping that whole crank-turning thing together.

So we have our different paces. We have our different priorities. He wanted to ride 50 miles. I wanted to be at work by 2 p.m. But like all those couples engaged in a constant struggle between ESPN and The Food Network, we make it work. He turns the volume down a bit, and I pretend that the joys of technical singletrack aren't terribly overrated (After all, we're only riding loop…

Draw'ring

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This time of year, by the time I crawl into bed, the sun is already on its way back up. This means I have sunlight blazing in my face for nearly the entire span of time I'm attempting to sleep. My summertime insomnia is back in all of its hazy glory; combined with a recent increase in activity, which also wreaks havoc with my internal clock. But being sleep-deprived is not the end of the world, and it does make for some interestingly dreamlike mornings.

Like this morning, I could not stop thinking about Equus. It's a play I went to see with Geoff and friends last night. It was by far the most graphic play I have ever attended; but its message was equally haunting - the tortured psychologist, who has nearly gone mad over the enlightenment that life is meaningless without passion, in the end realizes that passion itself is a hopeless pursuit. Heavy stuff. I chewed on it for a while as I prepared to go hiking, and for some reason - at the last minute - decided to throw a sketch pa…

Bender

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Date: June 14
Mileage: 89.1
June mileage: 313.6
Temperature upon departure: 61

Self discipline has never been one of my strong traits ... especially when it comes to bicycling. I don't do intervals because I don't like to watch a clock. I don't monitor my heart rate or calorie intake or elevation profiles. That I've been able to bicycle a lot of miles during the winter months isn't really contradictory to this character flaw - I take plenty of sick pleasure from riding around in horrid conditions. But I take even more sick pleasure from riding around in nice conditions.

I left the house today with 40 oz. of water, a rain coat, sunscreen, a single Power Bar and a baggie of fruit snacks in my Camelbak. I had absolutely no expectations setting out at 8:45 a.m. ... maybe check out the latest line of crusie ships, take an easy spin north and be back before 11.

It's interesting how a ride with no purpose and no plan can be so helplessly self-perpetuating. The wind was mov…

First climb

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Date: June 12
Mileage: 23.3
June mileage: 201.2
Temperature upon departure: 50

After a winter of perilous ice conditions and a spring of perilous joint conditions, it has been at least six months since I've made the short jaunt up to Eaglecrest Ski Resort. The meat of the climb rises about 1,300 feet in five miles. Nothing to write to your Congressman about, but not too shabby for a sustained climb, either.

I hadn't made a hard effort since I started cycling again, and today was no exception. Still, just by nature of moving fast enough to stay upright on the bike, some of those pitches required at least moderate effort. When I'm going at moderate pace, I think about my quads. I focus hard on the muscles, firing and contracting, until I form a vague mental picture of pistons churning inside of an engine. My idea is to put all of the effort on my muscles, and remember that my knees are just being pushed along for the ride. I have no idea of this is proper therapy, but it seems to…

The Canadian dream

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Later this month - well, in 12 days - Geoff is registered to ride his first 24-hour hamster race in Whitehorse, Yukon: The 24 Hours of Light. For a while, I was not planning to go at all. And then I thought - hey, road trip to Canada (and a ferry ride ... I do love those salt-encrusted snack bar pretzels.) But the reality is, Geoff does not need me as a one-woman pit crew. No matter where I exist in his Solo Spectrum, he will most likely do his own wrenching, make his own sushi, mix up his own Perpetuem and generally glower at my 4 a.m. cheerleader chants (believe me, I know how it feels.) So what am I to do? Might as well enter the race.

Now, don't freak out. I am not looking to break any personal records. I am not looking for anything beyond a fun mountain bike ride in a place where it's warm and LIGHT (I used the capital letters because Whitehorse has nearly 24 hours of it.) Why not plunk down the $60 Canadian (that's like, what, only $700 U.S.?) and be part of the event…

I updated my photo CD

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Date: June 9 and 10
Mileage: 14.4 and 40.6
June mileage: 201.2
Temperature upon departure: 63 and 69!

Way too much riding this weekend. I feel a little like a relapsed user - elated because the immediate pain has subsided, but guilty about the future consequences. There has been a rash of sunshine and I have been scratching at it incessantly ... biking, hiking, more biking. Something needs to rein me in ... or rather, rain me in. I'm sure that will happen soon enough.

The plus side of relapse is that I have been suddenly injected with more energy than I've had in a while. I've used the extra time to work on some projects I've been meaning to get around to. One was finally updating and organizing my vast collection of Alaska photos that have been lingering as anonymous files in limbo since September 2005.

In doing so, I also compiled a collection of 320 of my favorite scenic shots - many that have appeared on this blog, and some that haven't - for an "Up in Alaska&qu…

Perseverance

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Date: June 8
Mileage: 31.8
June mileage: 156.2
Temperature upon departure: 58

As I rounded a sharp corner of Mount Juneau switchbacks, I nearly collided with the rear end of a mountain goat. At the time, all I saw was a bulk of white. My knee-jerk reaction was that I had run into a trail hog of a hiker, but then she turned to look at me. It's a strange experience, looking into the eyes of a wild animal standing at arm's length. I wondered if the respective reflections of ourselves would come to haunt us later -the way I could almost see my shadow framed by mud-streaked dreadlocks of white fur and wicked looking horns, flickering in the depths of those dark brown eyes. It's hard not to speculate about what the animal may have seen in my eyes; did she see the strands of broken connections that could have made us siblings in another life? Or fear? Or just a faceless threat? Not that it matters. It was a fraction of a second, and then she turned and sprinted up the trail, scaring …