Sunday, May 10, 2009

Salt Lake City

Spending time with my family and a few old friends has been a great stabilizer for my state of mind. My family especially has been so supportive, even though I haven't always been as emotionally open with them as I should be. My mom has been feeding me great homemade meals and doesn't even blink when I leave a huge mess of gear in their spare bedroom and head out for six hours of biking. I'm always amazed by how quickly I can settle back into life in Salt Lake, as if the years haven't even passed since I moved away. Most people can't go home again, but I can.

Biking, which often felt depressing and burdensome when I was traveling with Geoff and we were in the early stages of our breakup, has become mostly enjoyable again. It's only mostly enjoyable because biking is really hard here. I've spent most my time climbing canyons and seeking out singletrack. On Thursday I did Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons. Little felt refreshing enough so I picked up the pace up Big, forgetting that the canyon is something like 16 miles long. Just climbing. For 16 miles. It's enough to put a person in that fuzzy place where life almost makes sense.

I've really been sucking wind on the climbs. But my legs feel great, so I'm going to go ahead and blame the elevation. The sun has been kicking my butt as well. Everyone has been telling me that Salt Lake had a cool, wet spring, but oddly it didn't save any of that for me. 70 and sunny every day. I know. Awesome riding weather. But it's amazingly oppressive when you're adapted to 45 degrees and damp cloudy skies. I slather on SPF 50 until my pasty Alaskan skin shimmers and yet still fry, and I can't seem to drink enough water. It goes in and comes right back out, but I'm always thirsty.

The Millcreek Pipeline trail is such a sweet piece of singletrack. I rode it twice. Mountain biking has been battering me, too. I forget that I'm kinda bad at it. I have bruises and scratches up and down my legs, although my left arm is mostly healed from my Marin crash a week ago. The swelling has gone down and the road rash is scabbing over, and it doesn't throb when I hit bumps any more. I've started to go at singletrack more aggressively, with mixed results. Sometimes I clean something and amaze myself. But the other day, I came up on a surprise tight turn and too high of a speed and dipped my wheel in a small ravine. I ended up tangled in a bush 10 feet down a near-vertical slope with the bar-end permanently imprinted in my thigh. I was lucky another cyclist stopped to help pull me out, because it may have taken me a while to get myself and my bike out of that one.

I've done a little hiking as well. Most of the higher Wasatch trails are still snow-covered, so walking is the best way to get good elevation exposure. I climbed Grandeur Peak with my dad and his friend, Tom, on Saturday morning.

My dad surprised me at the peak with a cold can of Diet Pepsi. At least my dad loves me. :-)

The Corner Canyon trails begin less than three miles from where my parents live. Lots of fun potential here, although I'm learning that I prefer to net real distance rather than loop around a mountain bike park. That's probably why my singletrack skills are so dismal.

American Fork Canyon. That makes five canyons I've climbed to the top of this week. All within a short afternoon's ride from Draper. And I didn't even hit Emigration or City Creek yet.

Mount Timpanogos. My plan now is to head south to the desert on Monday afternoon for a three-day solo bikepacking trip. The purpose of the trip is to determine whether I have the physical, mental and, most importantly, emotional fitness to continue with my original summer plan - to ride all or at least part of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route starting in mid-June. The logistics are going to be more difficult without Geoff to help me gear up for the long trip, and I have to admit I'm not loving the company of myself right now. But there's something too important about this trip to give up on it just yet. I hope to know more by the end of this week.

I wanted to say thanks to everyone who shared their stories and offered words of support in my last post. That's helped a lot, too. Life goes on, and it's always good to be reminded of that.