Since I came back to Juneau on Wednesday, my life has fallen quickly back into its old routine ... minus, quite notably, the biking. I'm not sure when I'll be able to ride, or even really walk, again. But despite a building reserve of pent-up energy, I'm not in any mood to rush it. I'm willing to set aside the time it takes to heal. Meanwhile, though, the late winter is passing me by.
Geoff has not been able to shake his cold, but has been feeling similarly pent up by biological forces beyond his control. So today he announced he was going to the Mendenhall Campground to ski "for an hour, tops." And as I looked out at the seductive sunshine hovering over 10-degree temperatures with fierce winds, I asked if I could go with him.
I wrapped my useless foot up in three socks and a down bootie and planned to crutch over to a nice sunny spot and wait for Geoff until my left foot (the one with the feeling, and therefore the indicator) became cold. But as I approached the shoreline of the frozen lake, the relief of hard effort and a well-packed trail beckoned me forward.
I tested the trail to make sure I wasn't leaving deep postholes, but the claws on the crutches didn't dig in any deeper than my footprint. I so badly wanted to go for a little walk, even if only a mile or so, that I weighed the ridiculousness of hobbling down a snowy trail on crutches with the likelihood that a skier might stop and scold me. It was still worth it. I tentatively ventured forward while planning my defense: "Don't the injured deserve sunshine, too?"
And to my relief, everyone I encountered treated me like a normal person. "That was me last winter," one woman told me as she skated by. "I thought I was going to go bonkers." Juneau skiers are the best.
I returned to the car to meet Geoff an hour later, my biceps and abdomen burning and my face dripping sweat. Both feet were nice and warm. It felt great to get out.
I know I've mentioned this before, but I wanted to take a minute to formally thank everyone who helped me with my stunted race effort.
• Greg and Pete at Speedway Cycles. As I write this, Pete recently arrived in McGrath in fifth place and the first-place skier. Honestly, Pete, after seeing you chop along that first day, I am extremely impressed. Way to persevere through tough conditions. Enjoy the well-earned rest, whether you go on to Nome or not.
• Eric at Epic Designs. The day we returned from Juneau, Geoff and I placed a brand new order for summer frame bags (It's about time my Monkey had her own seat and bikepacking gear.) Eric's stuff is so in demand that he's backordered about six weeks now, and the dude really does sew all day long when he's not skiing a sub three-hour 50K in the Tour of Anchorage (Congratulations, Eric! 2:55 is awesome!), so I recommend ordering soon.
• Ultrarob, who held a fundraiser for my race even though it turned out to be a short one. Ultrarob's store still offers deals on a great assortment of cycling and outdoor gear. Check it out.
• Fellow Yentna drop-outs, Italian cyclist Riccardo Ghirardi and Spanish cyclist Isabel Lopez. Even though the communication was limited, your friendship through those hard hours was priceless.
• Everyone who bought my book. I'm pretty bummed I didn't come out of this year's event with more stories to tell, but there will be time enough for that soon. (This book's still pretty OK, though, so you should buy it :-)
• Those who made unsolicited donations through my blog, which was a very nice surprise.
• And to family, friends, and the people who read this blog. I really feel like I belong to a great community of like-minded friends worldwide.