Sunday, June 01, 2008

The end of May


Date: May 30 and 31
Mileage: 8.4 and 41.2
May mileage: 1,188.4
Temperature: 61

"You've certainly done a lot of biking this month," my mom said to me on the phone today. "Is it because Geoff's gone?"

"I think I've ridden about 990 in May," Geoff told me as he was driving from Moab to Salt Lake to start his long bike trip north. "I'm training for the longest mountain bike race in the world, and you're still riding more than me."

So now I have a just-shy-of-1,200-miles month. The majority of the miles were spent on a mountain bike on pavement, usually either touring, commuting or traveling to and from trails. If I break down the factors that led to all the miles, they're really more complex than just a good, old-fashioned bike binge. For starters, I took up bike commuting in earnest this month. That's only cut very minimally - if at all - into my regular riding, and adds an average of 60 miles per week - 240 miles over the month. I started out May sincerely dedicated to endurance training, which has devolved into a looser commitment to weekly mini bike vacations. Either way, both endeavours stack up mileage. One demands hours in the saddle and the other awards hours in the saddle.

My ride on Thursday definitely landed on my "top five best Juneau rides ever" list. I didn't write about it afterward because I had "Oh, the Places You'll Go" stuck in my head for most of the day. Like any poem or song in which you don't know all of the words, I started to invent my own. And after nine hours of pedaling I had a whole new version looping through my head, so I had to go home and type it out. But, in the interim, I had an amazing bike ride. The weather of course was perfect (how long can this last? It's been 10 days at least. I feel like I've landed in the Southeast Alaska twilight zone.) I rode Herbert Glacier Trail for the first time this year (finally clear!) and went on to Eagle River, riding much farther than I have before (Eagle River is a nasty trail and more often than not a hike-a-bike, but if you put up with the walking, there are some fun stretches.) I did take a rough fall over one of the epic root piles along the Eagle River, but I'm such a timid technical rider that I consider mountain bike falls - as long as I come out relatively unscathed - to be a good thing. I had planned on returning home after the Eagle River ride, but spontaneously decided to go north instead. I went to the end of Glacier Highway, where a large gate blocks the entrance to a gravel road that I assume is the pioneer construction of the proposed (and currently in limbo) Juneau Access Road. I've never been brave enough to venture out that way, because I fear large restrictive gates and their warning signs. But on Thursday I threw caution to the wind and ducked under the gate. The gravel was really rough (like "I wish I had full suspension" rough) and blocked in two places by landslides large enough to prevent any vehicle from going through - even ATVs. I was disappointed to discover the road only extends about five more miles before it literally drops right off into Berner's Bay. But after skirting around a big bad gate and two landslides, it was exciting to stand on the edge of the water and know I was truly "out there."

Then I felt fresh and energetic the whole way home. My GPS was registering triple-digit miles and the wind was blasting in my face. It didn't even seem real to feel as good as I did, but I felt great. I arrived at home after 9 p.m. - having had waited until noon to leave the house. Then I busted out a quick and rather eclectic dinner with the meager, meager food I had left in the fridge, and raved about my bike ride to my roommate until he got tired and went to bed. After that, I didn't sleep for most of the night. I was pumping all kinds of endorphins and adrenaline and it was nearly impossible to come down. I'll never understand people who say "I'll sleep well tonight" after a good, long ride. The exact opposite happens to me. The better (and longer) the ride, the worse I sleep. But it's worth it.

Of course I was a zombie on Friday after waking up at the crack of 7 a.m. to go fishing (didn't catch anything). Friday had just a short ride to commute to a friend's BBQ. Today was half-hearted hill intervals up to the ski resort and the commute to work. This is the way May ends. Lots of bike riding. The way it all came about is still a little vague. Like I said, I've kind of given up on the presumption that I'm "training," more than I'm just "having fun because I really do enjoy biking and it is especially rewarding when the weather is nice like it has been most of this month." And I don't feel like I've spent more time than usual on a bike - but there is a project I started in earnest toward the end of April that's been stalled out for four weeks. I haven't been back to the library in at least that long. I still have Netflix movies that Geoff rented before he left that I should really just send back and cancel the subscription because it's stupid to pay $9.99 a month to keep red envelopes on a desk. The TV remains unplugged since we pulled the cord when the energy crisis began in mid-April. And I do have a problem with continually running out of fresh food. (People think gas is expensive. Bike fuel is expensive.) So maybe there have been small lifestyle shifts toward higher mileage. But I like to think I'm just getting faster.