Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Those Lost boys are back

"Perfect beach near Cape Yakataga;" Photo by Eric Parsons.

Date: Sept. 9
Mileage: 20.1
September mileage: 233.3

So Dylan and Eric of the Lost Coast Bike Expedition have successfully completed their coastal ride to Cordova and are back in Anchorage. They must be two of the baddest, saltiest guys with two of the baddest, saltiest Pugsleys in all the land. They have some epic stories that simultaneously fill me with jealousy for what they experienced and relief that I wasn’t there - a mark of any good adventure, in my opinion. This morning, Eric told me about their crossing of the Hubbard (aka “Terror”) Gap in packrafts. The narrow gap was raging with tidal currents and clogged with glacial ice. Just they were trying to paddle around all of those obstacles, a massive chunk of ice calved off the Hubbard Glacier and crashed into the bay, sending a breaking tsunami their way. Eric said the wave bounced off nearby cliffs and ricocheted back to them, and all they could do was grip their paddles and hope it didn’t flip their boats. Harrowing stuff. Good stuff. And great photos are already up on their trip blog.

So of course I had to ask Eric the question that I’m sure he hears from everyone - was taking the bike worth it? He said he had to give it some thought, but in the end, decided it was. “We did a lot of pushing and carrying our bikes,” he said. “But there were also a lot of really good beaches and we could cover ground a lot faster than if we were walking. We’d look back after a really fun couple hours and think, wow, that would have taken us all day.”

And on his blog, he wrote, “A simple joy comes from mountain biking in places they have never been before. The untangibles that come with traveling through and experiencing these raw, wild, awe-inspiring landscapes is what motivates us and will keep us coming back again and again.”

I have to say, this recent string of good news - Geoff’s win in the Wasatch 100 and Dylan and Eric’s success on the Lost Coast - have really boosted me through this new rut I’ve been tossed into. After I found out I can’t secure extra time off work in October, I took three entire days off the bike - cleaning my house, plodding through a number of chores I’ve been neglecting, and generally feeling sad about being shut out of Trans Utah. I set out today and felt super strong - no huge surprise there, after three pretty mellow days. Despite being stranded in a “no train” zone, I still felt compelled to push hard. I ascended the Perseverance Trail in a gray cloud and descended cold and soaked in sweat and mist and mud and the satisfaction of a good hard effort. But as soon as I rolled back to my apartment and hopped in the shower, the emptiness started to return.

Of course there will be future events and future goals. There always will be. I think what I am mostly feeling sad about is this new realization that even though I have no children, no debt, no health problems, and no definite obligations, I have shaped this life that is not my own. There’s this sense that being chained to a desk is as good as a prison sentence, and yet, I feel a strong reluctance to give up the shackles.