Friday, June 26, 2009

Good luck, bad luck

I was grinding up a loose gravel road, feeling lonely and tired, with a gorgeous sunset fading quickly behind me. I watched my headlight beam bounce off pebbles until it illuminated a sign announcing 10 miles of private land. No tresspassing. I wondered if I would just keep going. I thought i should.

After 10 p.m., I passed the Brush Mountain Outpost. I lingered a moment, envying its comfort and warmth, before continuing up the road. I was about 100 feet past when a woman called out my name. "You hungry?" she asked.

Inside the warm building, she told me she was a fan of the race. She had been tracking everyone and inviting them in for meals and beds. She made mw a quesedilla and fresh fruit. She told me about the things that were going on in the world. She asked if I thought i was doing well in the race. "Well," I said, "If your goal is simply to finish the race, I believe it's 20 percent perseverance and 80 percent luck. So far, I've been pretty lucky."

This morning I left my warm outpost bed to greet the rainy, cold morning. Fog moved in and the showers picked up in intensity as I climbed the Watershed Divide. The descent was rocky, severly muddy and becoming muddier. Patchwork repairs in Rawlins had left me with new front brake pads, terribly worn back brake pads and no spares. I knew my brake situation was sketchy, but I feared the wheel-sucking mud and I wanted to get off that mountain. What I didn't know was that my new front brake pads were rapidly disintigrating to black goo. I didn't find out until a particularly steep, rocky slope. I pressed down on the brake levers and nothing happened.

I panicked and leaned toward the trail, bashing my left knee on a rock amid a geyser of mud and screeching metal. Sharp pain was followed by blunt anger. That was an unlucky thing to have happen.

I adjusted my back brake enough to get it working again. The front was pretty much metal on metal. The rational side of me wanted to walk down, but a deepset fear of mud drove me to ride the back brake all the way to Clark, where I arrived cold, stiff and completely frustrated.

I spent and hour icing my knee, warming my body, and trying to motivate to make the run to Steamboat Spring. I knew I needed to get there quickly to get my bike repaired, but I struggled to find the courage to get back on my bike. My knee was swollen and stiff, and I was in full-on hate mode. Eventually I toughed up, walked around for a while to loosen my knee, hosed myself down and started a slow but painful pedal into town.

My first stop in Steamboat was the bike shop, and despite the late hour of 4 pm, they were amazingly helpful. They put everything aside to refurbish my rear hub, install new brake pads and a new front rotar and caliper, new chainrings, chain and cassette, and sell me a couple spare brake pads. My bike was finally running again, but my knee felt like crap.

While the guys at Orange Peel were working on my bike, I tried to work up the courage to head down the trail tonight. But the stiffness and persistant swelling in my knee combined with more gathering storm clouds convinced me to stay in town, ice the knee, dry my gear and continue searching for courage.

I think my knee injury is just a bruise. So I plan to continue on in the morning. Wish me luck.

Sent on the go from my Peek