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

29 comments:

  1. Nice gut-check. Ride that hate to Antelope Wells.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Uni-Tom8:53 PM

    Go Jill! There's no shame in giving your body a few hours break, and it seems pretty clear that's what it's telling you to do.

    You are riding an amazing race...I'm just in awe.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ibuprofen

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hang in there Jill ! I'm enjoying your posts from the heat of AZ!

    ReplyDelete
  5. You can do it! We're pulling for you here in Washington.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hang in there Jill. You've come too far and endured too much to cash it in now. You can rest the knee for a day and hardly lose a place in the standings. You might always regret not finishing, and one more day won't matter that much.
    Best wishes,
    Martyuma

    ReplyDelete
  7. All the more motivation for you to hang tough Jill. Ice the hell out of that knee and then ride like hell all the way to Antelope Spings! You can do it Jill...Motivation and Guts. You have them both.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Like Par says, vitamin I and lots of ice....

    ReplyDelete
  9. wow! sounds like the day took its toll on bike and body! You're doing great, don't lose heart!

    ReplyDelete
  10. You're doing awesome! Easier said from my arm chair but keep it rolling, Alaska rooting for you.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Bundle of courage on the way by courier. Sorry, no knees in stock... all broken here too. Andy.xx

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hang tough, I'm cheering for you from New York City, listened to your message you left on the call in.

    Glad you will have a repaired bike under you - hope that stress being gone will help your ride get better.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Good luck Jill! Hang in there and channel the anger towards the trail. Your adventures are nothing short of amazing and inspiring! Keep it going!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Jill, you're doing great so I agree, vitamin I and ice. Keep the faith and believe in yourself! We do!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Saw you are off again! Go, Jill go! Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  16. MarcL7:41 AM

    your amazing willpower just keeps on flowing - your bike is healed and soon you will be too - ride on

    ReplyDelete
  17. I'm so glad I found this blog right at the beginning of your journey. Keep riding Jill, we're all here watching and waiting for your posts, and while every journey is a personal one, your is showing all of us just what one committed person can do.

    ReplyDelete
  18. WOW! I hope you knee is feeling better this morning. You make the right decision to stay and let your body, soul, and knee rest.

    You are doing amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  19. karen9:34 AM

    It's only a flesh wound :-) Your doing great keep it going.

    ReplyDelete
  20. You may feel lonely but we're all out here pulling for you! Cheering you on in Ohio!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Anonymous1:09 PM

    Good luck Jill!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Jill, Hope the knee starts feeling better. Some friends and i will be riding near you on sunday. Is there anything we can bring you? Keep up the great ride.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thank you for embarking on this ride and sharing it with me and all of your other readers! Keep on keepin' on!!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Jill, I am just catching up. You are such an inspiration no matter what you do!! Thanks for the updates!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I wish you luck, Jill. The 24 hours was certainly not the same without you.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Lloyd9:09 PM

    Here in Sandy we're hanging on every word, and every update. What an amazing journey. Your perseverance is such an inspiration. Good vibes going your way.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Anonymous8:19 AM

    I'm so glad you went to Orange Peel. I wanted to heartily endorse them post-Rawlins, but what kind of weight that would carry, I didn't know.

    Good Luck, Jill!

    JAT in Seattle

    ReplyDelete
  28. Anonymous8:19 PM

    Jill, you are such an inspiration. Congratulations on the finish...I can't wait to hear more of your adventure.

    Christy

    ReplyDelete