Thursday, May 08, 2008

Seven hours of escaping the blahs

Date: May 8
Mileage: 84.2
May mileage: 320.5
Temperature: 48

Today was one of those days. You know the days. A stupid cat paws your face at some unspeakable hour of the morning. You roll around groggily in the gray morning light, unsure of who you are, where you are, and what day this is. And even as painful consciousness slowly wrestles you through your haze tunnel, you still can't remember what's on the schedule for today. What was it again? What were you going to do?

Oh yeah. Seven-hour bike ride.


Cyclists often use the phrase "Any day I ride my bike is a good day." I appreciate the sentiment, and respect anyone for whom it's true, but I've never thought that phrase applied to me. I spend most every day on a bike. They can't all be good days. They just can't. Some days you just wake up to good vibes, and even though you don't have anything planned, you go ride two hours on the beach, and afterward you feel like you could leap off buildings and use the sheer force of your energy to hold back gravity. And some days you wake up to blahs, and you have a seven-hour ride planned, and you think, "I should just go do it. I planned it." But, but, but ... blah.

Then there are usually a bunch of wasted hours in the morning until your conscience finally absolves you of the necessity of biking only to remind you of all the other things you could be doing today - you know, like grocery shopping and laundry. That's about the time you just get on the bike just to get the thing over with, and if enough time passes, at least you won't have to do your chores.

The sky is the same color as the mountains which is the same color as the pavement which is the same color as your mood. You're thinking, "I can't face seven hours of out the road and back and then some. What can I do to break this up? What can I do?"

Oh yeah. Dredge Lake.

Trails are dry. Hard-packed. Fast. Ice-patched. Jolty. Narrow. So I weave. Shoulder a tree. Jump. Roll. Coast. Climb. An hour passes in the maze. Now two hours are up. Where is there to go from here?

Oh yeah. West Glacier Trail and Montana Creek.

More snow up here. No matter, good smooth descent. Climb back up. Down, back through Dredge Lake. Another hour passes - one on pavement, two on trail. Not bad. The day feels lighter. Purposeful, even. Where to now? How 'bout out the road, not to ride out the road, but to see how much progress the melt is making on the spur trails?

Herbert Glacier is all snow from mile one. Eagle River is snow and old-growth devil's club stalks. Ouch. I ride along Eagle Beach for a while, scanning the shoreline for some of those tasty clams that people often find here, but it's not really low tide, and anyway, you have to dig for those.

So it's back south, into the wind, and I'm surprised to find it doesn't even faze me. Underneath all of my grump and grumble, I actually have good energy today. I can feel the burn in my quads from pushing around sand and dirt, and even the pavement seems to be rolling faster than normal, and I didn't notice earlier, but my random shuffle iTunes mix is really good today. Really good. I'm singing along, Modest Mouse, "A nice heart and a white suit and a baby blue sedan. And I am doing the best that I can ..."

Fast back to Dredge Lake and the Mendenhall River, hit the trails hard and strong, ride the jackhammer root sections that I always walked last year, ride the twisty wooden plank for the first time ever. Wish Geoff were here to see that. Feeling tired, feeling good and tired, leave the trail 15 minutes before hour six, one hour fifteen to get home. Push harder and harder, thinking about ravioli, thinking a lot about ravioli, reaching up to scan the shuffle and find that Modest Mouse song again, and sing, "And it's hard to be a human being. And it's harder as anything else ..."

Back with fifteen minutes to spare. In reality, a 6:45 day. I could've sandbagged it home, but I didn't.

One of those days. A good day to be on a bike.