Thursday, March 27, 2008

My world in old ways

Date: March 27
Mileage: 90.4
March mileage: 551.1
Temperature: 39

I had this idea that I was going to do a long ride today. I didn't know how long it was going to be. It was going to be long. The weather forecast was stellar. I packed water and food. I was thinking maybe all of the Juneau roads. I've never done that in one day before. Eaglecrest is still ice-packed, but everything else ... could be 135, 145 miles.

But then I stayed up much too late last night, staring at Northern Lights. Then my annoying cats started to pounce on me at the crack of dawn. By the time I stumbled out the door, bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived at 11 a.m., the glare of the sun hit my face like a brick. As I pedaled down the road, my head pounded and my stomach churned. And even as I crossed the bridge to face the full force of the beautiful day, all that awesomeness that encompassed me last week just wouldn't solidify. There was no way around it. I felt crappy. There would be no effortless hundred-plus miles today. I pretty much doubted I would even be able to rally for a painful hundred miles.

What commenced was basically the opposite of what happened last Thursday. I arrived at the glacier cutoff and wanted to turn around, but I didn't (I did skip the spur, though, so riding all the available pavement was out from the get-go.) Then I limped out to Tee Harbor and wanted to turn around, but reasoned that since I had bothered to carry three water bottles, and all of that food, I might as well keep going. Then I started to eat my food. It was beyond terrible. I had one good Clif Bar, and everything else was nearly inedible. Do you ever carry the same piece of food for about two dozen rides before finally eating it? Do you ever carry food that you have no idea where it came from? Do you ever carry food that you know you don't like but don't want to waste, reasoning that a cyclist on a century will eat anything? Yeah, I did all that. So what I ate was one waterlogged Clif Bar that tasted strongly like mildew, one strange chocolate bar that tasted strongly like dust, and one package cola-flavored Clif Shot Bloks. (I seriously dislike those. I have several stocked up and keep giving them a chance because so many people rave about them. But all I taste is waded-up cubes of vegetable shortening drenched in Safeway-brand soda.)

But I still kept going because it was such a nice day, and I didn't really have anything else planned. When I rolled into the far-away land of Echo Cove, bleached in snow and blazing in warmth, I was glad to be there. I thought maybe I still could take this thing all the way, even if I wasn't feeling great. I've definitely felt worse.

And I actually did rally all the way through downtown Juneau, moving toward Thane, thinking I could at least make a century out of the day. Just then, the front tire deflated. I sat in the shade to fix it, not really registering that early evening was setting in and the temperature was approaching freezing. My pump had rusted shut and I struggled to crack it open. My fingers went numb as I fumbled with the rim and tube. Geoff rolled by on his commuter bike just as I was finishing up. He was heading home. I followed him.

It's strange to have a ride like that, because now I'm sitting here wondering whether or not I wasted my day. There are always chores to do, annoying cats to feed, groceries to buy and bills to pay. Why spend all afternoon on a bicycle if I'm not totally loving it, and not training for anything to justify the effort? But at least I got out and experienced Juneau on a sunny day. I never regret doing that.


  1. On the old food Q, yes. Funniest was when I wa carrying sport beans in a bento on my top tube. I got caught in a big rain. Next time I reached for a bean, I discovered I had sport bean soup

  2. Hello, just wanted to let you know you write a nice blog....saw it listed in another blog here "The Tuesday Grimpeur". You should check it out. The link is

  3. Because a crap day on the bike, is still better than just about anything else.
    Like you said, It gives you one more story to tell yourself, that will help you finish the next crap ride. Is there such a thing?

  4. Even on the days that you aren't your most inspired to ride, you still spin a take that makes me want to be there with you:)

  5. "...what I ate was one waterlogged Clif Bar that tasted strongly like mildew, one strange chocolate bar that tasted strongly like dust..."

    You are one sick individual when it comes to your food selection.

    These food items would discourage me from biking... get some good food to eat!

  6. come june 20th any long days you put in on the bike now will seem worth it :)

  7. It takes real commitment to ride every day where you ride. It's about this time of year down here in Utah, when I feel like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It's that first ride in sleevless with no arm warmers, when you realize that there's a whole 7 or 8 months of warm weather riding ahead. Keep up the good work. I love all your pictures and your ride stories.

  8. Why are your cats annoying? And how many do you have?

  9. A question -- do you carry a camera tripod with you on your bike? How do you get all those nice photos of yourself when you're riding solo? I often take a small tripod on my rides, but I don't see where you'd put one on your bike.

  10. I have an uneasy truce with my bike
    food. I mix up something like goo
    and flavor it myself. It is a hassle,
    but so far it always tastes ok, goes
    down ok, and always seems to work.
    I'd love to have the same success with
    more normal food. (All this is in the
    context of long rides.)

    Matt Newlin

  11. Well, I have one cat. But Geoff has one cat and my housemate has two, which equals four cats. The two kittens have taken to pouncing on my head every morning at 6 a.m., which I find annoying. But it still beats having a dog :)

    I take the self portraits by setting the self timer for 10 seconds and placing the camera on the ground, or upright on a rock, log or snowbank. That's why the pictures are never straight and often at low angles.


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