Thursday, September 27, 2007

Routine route

(Yes, I am still posting Grand Canyon pictures. I've been carrying my camera since I returned from the canyon Saturday night, but ... nothing. Yet.)

Date: Sept. 26
Mileage: 25.1
September mileage: 430.6
Temperature upon departure: 46
Rainfall: .31"

"This is how it works ... You're young until you're not ... You love until you don't ... You try until you can't ... You laugh until you cry ... You cry until you laugh ... And everyone must breathe ... Until their dying breath."
- Regina Spektor, "On The Radio"

Today I rode out to North Douglas. Again. My bike computer was not working. It did not matter. I circled the roundabout at mile .5, sucked air up the hill at mile 2.1, passed the now-broken JEBE sign at mile 3.5, coasted by the Eaglecrest cutoff at mile 6.2, rounded the Douglas boat launch at mile 8.9, labored up the last hill at mile 11, and throttled my wet brakes to a squeaky stop at the end of the road, mile 12.55.

After I blew my nose on a devil's club leaf and rubbed the road grit from my eyes, I wondered exactly how many dozens of times I've put that ride together. Many dozens. Dozens and dozens. All the way down to the details ... the tarp teepee that shelters stacks of logs, the fence built 30-feet high completely out of old skis, the apartment building parking lot that is constantly hosting junky garage sales, the boats still trolling the channel, the porcupines still lumbering across the street. There is nothing new, nothing left to explore. I am officially bored.

I have been wondering when this would begin to happen. Wondering when I would begin to lose interest in weaving together the 80 miles of pavement and 25 miles of bikeable trail that is everything I have to work with. Could this be that moment? The last day of my yearlong Juneau honeymoon? Had I hit the dead end - both literally and figuratively? What would life be like from here on out? Cycling without adventure? The existential equivalent of eating tuna noodle casserole for dinner and fruitcake at Christmas? Again?

Bicycling for me is much more than a way to stay fit. It is a way to stay sane. Bicycling helps satiate my often overwhelming wanderlust. It keeps me happy with the desk job and the chore routine and the life cemented in a place where traveling more than 40 miles from home means taking to the air or sea. If I lose interest in North Douglas, the next step is losing interest in Thane. And then the Mendenhall Valley. And then Berners Bay. And then I'll have nowhere left to go.

I turned around to face the headwind and horizontal rain. I passed the waterfall at mile 14.5, crossed Fish Creek at mile 17, skirted the pothole minefield at mile 22, watched one of the last tour buses of the season roll by at mile 24, and made my way home. As I pulled into the driveway, the beads of condensation beneath my jacket had already begun to seep through my shirt, inviting the chill of the morning through my last layer. The heat of hard breathing beat against my nose and cheeks until it broke through the numbness, warming my skin. I could feel the release from hard effort. I let the sensation wash over me, like ice water, calming and exhilarating at the same time.

And I remembered, again, why I keep doing these rides. Nothing is certain; therefore, everything is a surprise.


  1. I would not know where I would be without riding.....

  2. I wish that I was in terrain like yours, but I do love that I have endless roads to ride...and can ferry to more...or ride to Canada if I have time and inclination. But cycling is one of the many things that keep me functioning well, or at least possibly. It's pretty clear that we humans were designed for covering ground under our own power, for chasing things and climbing other things...and the tedium of the 'grind' if you are not one of those driven to material success above all (or at least have a TV) demands an excess of, er, demands. Real ones. New roads, new rides, the moon over the lake. I've said all I'm saying, and not well. In the end, though, a bike is a tool, and like an ax, it's not the best one for every job.

    Craig in Seattle

  3. First, great Grand Canyon photos.
    It's been a long riding season hasn't it? Now the season is changing and so must we humans. It's a good thing we have opposable thumbs and big brains so we can figure out ways to do things differently...or in reverse even.
    Maybe hang up the bikes for awhile, wait, don't shoot me just yet. "awhile" can be any length of time you determine it to be. I usually switch to strength training and bulking up after a long summer of tearing myself down. Just a stupid guy idea.
    Be well

  4. Too bad you can't rally up a little November Moab trip and knock that White Rim sucker off. Or maybe you can. I bet it would be good training for Iditasport.

    Yeah, lifting. Ugh. I lift legs two days a week, upper one day, climb one day and do core 3-4 days a week. For legs I do the following:

    hamstring curls one leg - 3x12
    hamstring curls both legs - 3x12
    leg extensions one leg - 3x12
    leg extensions both legs - 3x12
    calves both legs sitting - 3x15
    calves one leg standing - 3x30
    leg press - 3x12
    I go out to the football field at our school and do lunges. I'm at 150 yards right now and that should improve quickly.
    Then I do core.

    Leg extensions are pretty key for me because that little muscle that covers the inside of the knee on the quad doesn't get worked that much cycling. But it needs to be strong - otherwise the IT band pulls the knee alignment outta whack.

    Upper is pretty straight forward - bench, lat pull down, military press, row (back), curls and triceps. And more stomach.

    Sets and reps vary. 3x12 is a good intro number. I'll probably raise the sets and drop reps next month, and then the month after drop the sets back to three but bump reps way up. Basically, just mix things up to keep the muscles responding. That, and changing exercises too

    Hope that helped.


Feedback is always appreciated!