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.