Monday, July 27, 2009

First week back

I still need to write up the last chapter of my Tour Divide trip report. I'll be bummed when I'm finished. I've had a lot of fun writing it - like reliving it, in a way. My goal for the summer is to really dig in to my whole summer experience and flesh it out even more - which, for those who already think my blog is too wordy, probably sounds impossible. Believe me, it is possible. Writing about my life is how I process things, and right now it feels like there's a lot to process.

In the meantime, I'm trying to make the most of being back in Juneau while hammering out my 60-hour work weeks (my boss went out of town this week. Hopefully it gets better.) I've had a few chances to head up into the mountains. Last Sunday, I walked up Mount Juneau with two guys who were both named Dan. I just happened to meet the Dans at the trailhead. They were impressed with the pace I kept, so I think I may have just scored some new hiking partners for the ridge traverses that I really want to complete this summer (but, really, only the weather can decide that.)

Tuesday was Mount Jumbo in the rain. The workout was great but the scenery wasn't very good.

On Friday, I finally took Pugsley out for a ride. In the interim between the Tour Divide and now, my mountain bike has pretty much fallen apart. The tires don't seem to want to hold air anymore; the shock also seems to be leaking; the chain is stretched out; the cables are really tight; the grips have almost worn through and large chunks of foam are breaking off the seat. It's literally falling apart. I sent her off to Gustavus for some TLC, but without a swath of new parts, I'm not sure how well she'll fare. I've actually thought about converting the mountain bike back into a touring/commuting bike with a rigid fork and skinny tires, and using Pugsley as my trail-riding bike for the rest of the year. I'd love to get a new mountain bike, but there are a lot of necessities I need to nail down first - a place to live being at the top of the list.

On Saturday, I entered the Tram Run with my friend Abby. The race follows the lower Mount Roberts trail, gaining about 2,000 feet in four miles. I rode my bike to the race start, and was about halfway there when I realized I forgot my bike lock. I looked at my watch and calculated what it would take to swing it, then turned around in full-on sprint mode back to the place where I've been staying, adding five miles to a 10-mile ride. I grabbed the lock and made it to the start with 90 seconds to spare, dripping sweat, heart rate in full-on red zone, head spinning, trying to remember how to spell my name on the sign-up sheet as someone stabbed at me with safety pins to attach a race number to my shirt. I locked up the bike just as they yelled 'go.' Abby shot off ahead. I started the race in recovery mode just to get over my bike sprint, but I picked it up a little. Not much. Running is just ... well ... it's hard. Abby ended up winning the race in 37 minutes, chicking every single one of the guys by more than three minutes. I finished in 50 minutes ... third place woman. I'm not sure about my standing overall. It was fun, though. Just like hiking (in fact, for a lot of it I actually was hiking. Mount Roberts is steep.) I just figured out that my time last year was just 30 seconds faster - 49:36. I'm happy that I'm not in worse running shape than I was a year ago, when I actually did at least some running prior to the race.

My biking fitness, on the other hand, is a little on the dismal side. I have minor tendinitis in my Achilles tendons, although it seems to be aggravated more by running than biking. I still feel weak on climbs. My enthusiasm on the bike is on the low side. Although I didn't feel like the Tour Divide wore me down much directly after the ride, it definitely feels that way now. Which is why I'm feeling quite a bit of buyer's remorse for something I did last week amid a particularly tough day at work - I used air miles to buy a plane ticket to Anchorage so I could ride the Soggy Bottom 100. The ride is this Saturday. I'm still going to go because air-mile tickets aren't transferable. But right now I have that fear-in-my-heart feeling and I don't really want to talk about it.

I can just ignore that fear by staying on my feet. I hiked Blackerby Ridge today. That is a mean, mean trail. It forces you up 2,500 feet in a mile and a half on a narrow staircase of roots covered in slimy mud and lined with Devils Club. I'm still pulling thorns out of my hands. But once you get up into the rolling alpine, it's all worth it. Even on a dull day, the views are spectacular. I watched a bald eagle stalk, pounce and carry off a baby ptarmigan (sad but fascinating nonetheless.) The marmots were singing. The lupine was blooming. It's summer in Juneau.