Saturday, July 12, 2008

Haines

Date: July 9-12
Mileage: 20.2, 18.0, 80.7 and 6.1
July mileage: 241.4

Well, I'm back from another 36-hour trip to Haines. In hindsight, this one wasn't a wonderful idea, given the expense, Geoff's crushing fatigue, and a less-than-stellar weather forecast. It's the kind of thing that happens on a Thursday morning when two people are lazing around a messy house with diminishing motivation and a "what should we do today?" conversation that lingers over hours. When it's decided that any daylong outdoor activity would be less than fun in the cold rain, it's only a matter of time before you start scrolling the Alaska Marine Highway site and grabbing up a couple of tickets for a ferry that leaves in three hours. Then, once you board the boat, you're kinda stuck with your spur-of-the-moment decision. As the ferry inched northward, Geoff and I set up plastic chairs on the solarium and gazed out at the gray-washed seascape. "It's too bad we can't just bike there," I said. "It would be faster than this." "We could swim there faster than this," Geoff replied.

But the fact was, Geoff wasn't about to swim or bike anywhere. He still feels tired most of the time, sleeps whenever he can and is becoming increasingly frustrated by his physical fatigue. He says the feeling is similar to having huge masses of dead muscle in his legs - an excess of tissue with no power. He did not want to go biking with me. Anywhere. And although I was itching to head up to the pass, I didn't want to be gone all day on a bike ride if he was just going to nap around camp. So I motored out to the border instead, trying to hurry but not pushing too hard against my own vicarious tiredness.

I was still surprised how fast the ride went, even with me failing to take full hammering advantage of the tailwind that became a monstrous headwind on the way back. I was able to knock off the 80 miles in 4:45, including snack and photo breaks, and beat my deadline back to camp even though I rode nearly twice as far as I said I was going to. I know that's not fast by roadie standards, but even the minimal speed advantage of my own rickety, flat-bar road bike surprised me after a couple of months almost exclusively riding 29-inch knobbies. I almost feel like getting a real road bike would make cycling too easy. Where would the fun be? Certainly not in taking the edge off 40 miles of harsh headwind (oh, wait...)

But it was nice for the cycling to only take a five-hour chunk out of the weekend, and sleep and food to consume the other 31. Geoff and I toured the town and found a lot of interesting hidden nooks. We ate at a few typically overpriced, underwhelming Alaska restaurants, including a little Mexican place that seduced us with unique atmosphere but proved to be unspectacular after all. All in all, kind of a lazy, lolling weekend - which I guess is what summer is all about.