Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Darlin don't you go and cut your hair

I told the 19-year-old stylist at Supercuts to lop off at least a foot. She talked me down to 9 inches. "You'll still be able to pull it back," she said. "I just want something light for summer," I said. What I meant to say is, "I just want something that's not going to snarl into one massive dreadlock that I'll never be able to untangle after it's coated in several days' worth of sweat, dirt and sunscreen."

It's a small thing, but it matters - a physical act, something tangible to remind me that I'm on track to do that which I came down here to do, which is ride the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. I've been somewhat pulled back from that goal for most of my trip south. That's probably been obvious ... the lack of direction in my "training," the radio silence about a looming big ride at the end of all of this frivolous vacationing. I've continued to prepare for the possibility, but in the back of my mind I've been searching for ways to back out of the whole thing without inciting the rage of my coworkers, who have suffered through my long furlough and at this point expect tangible results.

I've just had a hard time getting my head in the game. It would be easy to blame my recent breakup for my plunging stock in bike passion, but to be perfectly honest there were hints before April 20. The Iditarod, disaster that it was, never had time to approach that mental "race space" wherein I experience the pure joy of unhindered moment-to-moment living. The only race I participated before that was the 24 Hours of Light - as the only solo woman and, after about eight hours, with a nearly uncontested second-place standing and no prayer reaching first place. Continuing to ride through the night was fun but ultimately a practice in insanity - doing the same hard thing over and over and hoping for different results. My Kokopelli trip was scenic and fun, but still somewhat disappointing because I couldn't have completed it without the considerable support I ended up receiving from Geoff. In fact, the only endurance biking I've done since the 2008 Iditarod that had any sense of accomplishment wasn't a race at all. It wasn't even a difficult goal. It was a vacation ... bike touring the Golden Circle in late September. And the reason it was so rewarding? Because it was hard, and I suffered, and I continued to push through it, and it only got better as I went. And I did it completely on my own.

Therein lies my doubt ... and also the reason why I still need to head out there and give it a shot. I know to even attempt something as hard as this, a person has to have their head completely locked in the task, and, like I said, I'm just not sure it's there. But there's also the fact that I'm drifting right now more than I have in a long time, and a chance to immerse myself in a single-minded task, a chance to do something completely on my own, may be exactly what I need.

Then there's the simple fact that all I'm really doing is going out and riding my bike - something that, through it all, I still really enjoy. The GDMBR in 25 days or less may be impossible but it's certainly worth a shot. And if I don't finish, who cares? I've come close enough to not even starting that any mileage on that route is probably going to feel like an accomplishment.

I bought a plane ticket to Denver that leaves on Saturday. From there, I'm heading with friends up to Banff. I'm starting to get more excited and nervous about the endeavour - both good things. I'm not ready. But who really is? It's just a bike tour, I keep telling myself. Just another bike tour. I've done it before - two months' worth, back when I was in much worse shape and barely knew how to ride a bike. So what if the daily grind on the GDMBR is at least three times as hard? I'm just going to follow the Mountain Turtle, Kent Peterson style, peanut M&Ms and all, and see where it takes me.

32 comments:

  1. Like the new do! Looks good! Have fun in Denver!

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  2. About six months ago I sensed that the Universe was pushing you into a change.

    Biking Bulgaria is very affordable, I decided to live here for a while.

    Cute hair style.

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  3. Anonymous3:17 AM

    Mike In WI say's

    Jill, in my humble opinion...you must honestly give it a personal best shot to finish the GDR Tour.

    The Hair style makes you look refined(that's a good thing)

    Mike in WI

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  4. Love the new style Jill.
    Good luck over the next 25 days and then of course with what lies ahead...GDMBR.

    I'm excited for you!

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  5. Jill, your gonna rock it. Good luck.

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  6. Jill,

    You are not going for the win, you are going for the experience.

    You are capable of finishing the ride based on all of your previous tours. From what I have read, you don't do a lot of night riding and you are strong enough to handle 100 miles a day!

    Be Strong and Ride On!

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  7. The haircut is cute and looks fresh!

    You're attitude is right - you can do it! You just go out there and turn the cranks one revolution at a time. You'll be ready!

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  8. Love the haircut, Jill. Can't wait to read about the GDMBR.

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  9. Sharon roes6:38 AM

    Jill - the haircut is really cute - you go out and try the GDMBR and I am sure you will be happy with your accomplishment. We will be following all the way.

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  10. Anonymous6:46 AM

    Jill, Everything in moderation- the biking, blogging, friendships. Kick ass in the race- for you, and then get back on track- your life will be amazing, as it should be.

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  11. Hey Jill,
    You're going to to just fine. I don't know if you know about this change about 3 weeks ago.

    http://www.bikepacking.net/forum/index.php/topic,266.0.html.
    Just a heads up.
    Dave

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  12. I love the new 'do. Super cute!

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  13. Nobody ever knows if they can do the GDR, that's why we do it. You have a great edge, now that you're not carrying around all that extra hair. Just keep pedaling (or walking if need be), fill up with good water every chance you get, don't eat the burritos in El Rito (filter the water there too!), don't linger too long in Pie Town and you'll be fine. You're skipping the Seattle Livestrong Ride to do this thing, so I'm expecting a damn good story from you. Oh yeah, that's one more thing, when things go wrong, and trust me, things will go wrong, remember that those are the parts that make for the great story.

    Have fun, Jill. You're living a life a lot of folks only get to dream about.

    Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson

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  14. Oh stop that whining, and get out there where you belong and ride your bike young lady!!

    You are the most awesome rider/endurance racer there is.

    The hair trim is just the start of shaking off the old. But next time would you try for the sultry look instead of the deer in the headlights look. It would make the cut look even better.

    Almost a Gwyneth Paltrow twin.

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  15. Jill, I love the new haircut!

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  16. So funny to hear you flipping the zen card over and back: It's just a tour ... It's an epic adventure,... I'm going to the top of the mountain ... every journey begins with but a single step.

    Your mental prep for this is naturally influenced by your progression through your other big efforts. This is a big thing but now, it's just the next big thing for you.

    I'm with Kent, can't wait to hear the story, that's always the best part of any adventure, at least for those of us who are married to a lawen mower.

    Yr Pal, Dr C

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  17. First off, the cut: zesty!

    Secondly, go have some fun on the GDR. Keep it all in perspective and just keep spinning.

    Thirdly, one of the guys I work with went from just living his daily life to critical condition last week. He's beating the coin toss odds that the doctors gave him. It's given many of us reason to pause. Keep soaking in 'life' Jill. You are good at it, and your sharing it with others is a great thing that encourages them to soak it all in too.

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  18. Great post - I hear you on all fronts. Just take good care of yourself. And yes, the cut is cute!

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  19. First of all, you look adorable with the new haircut.

    As for the bike tour, you're going to do just fine. I seem to learn the most about myself - both strengths and limitations - when I'm struggling with a life challenge. I coast along through life when things are jolly but . . . give me some strife and I'll shine. Embrace the unknown.

    Best of luck to you - I can't wait to read about your adventure!

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  20. well, i've ridden with you twice now, and i've given you my opinion, but i'll make it public here: you are incredibly strong. you're comfortable with a fast, light cadence and can turn the cranks all day. you climb like nobody's business. you've got the gear and have experience with it.

    of course this race is full of unknowns, but it seems to me like you can feel confident in all the ways it's possible to be prepared.

    i will be following your progress every single day.

    crush it!

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  21. Jill, I toured the full GDMBR top to bottom solo unsupported in 07. Just get to the start line, get moving and it will all make sense.

    I've followed your blog for awhile, love your writing. I agree with the others...I can't wait to hear your story. No doubt you can pull it off.

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  22. kentucky joe5:33 PM

    just 'do it!

    but please take your camera along!

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  23. Anonymous5:35 PM

    Many of us don;t have the opportunity or the time to do it. Believe me if I could go back a few years and try something like that I would do it.

    We have become addicts of your adventures, go for it girl, we'll check that spot website 20 times a day!

    El Animal

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  24. I think you're going to own it.

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  25. Anonymous7:13 PM

    uh, HOT!

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  26. Go Jill! I will be checking in every day before work (even when I am on nan early shift!) so make sure the updates keep coming in. All the best on the biggest adventure yet.

    Alex

    Oh and the hair looks great :)

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  27. The offer is still on for a place to stay in Banff if you need it!

    lesinbanff@hotmail.com

    Leslie

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  28. Anonymous5:27 AM

    "Hey Jill,
    You're going to to just fine. I don't know if you know about this change about 3 weeks ago.
    http://www.bikepacking.net/forum/index.php/topic,266.0.html.
    Just a heads up.
    Dave
    "

    It looks like Jill is going for the full route race: Tour Divide

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  29. Bob M6:59 AM

    I don't know if Jill is reading her blog comments or not at this time.

    If anyone has her email or phone, please make sure she knows that the GDR is NOT STARTING in Banff on the 11th. It is starting from Roosville on the 19th. The TourDivide is starting from Banff on the 12th.

    Since she writes about not knowing if she can do it in under 25 days it sounds like she is still expecting to do the GDR, which has that time cutoff.

    Bob

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  30. Jill, Love the haircut. Can't wait to hear about your experiences on the GDMBR! Personally I don't know anyone else who would be as fit as you or have the will power to go as far as you will go! GOOD LUCK and ENJOY!!

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  31. Anonymous6:27 PM

    You are a inspiration when I feel too tired after work to ride. Keep on pushing on.

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  32. Anonymous12:29 AM

    Wow, ya sure do like attention, don't ya. Makes me wonder what you'd do without the internet. You are beautiful.

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