Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jill+Canada=Luv

I was dreading making the solo drive from Salt Lake City to Alaska, but I have to admit that for the most part I have really been enjoying it. There have been times when I have "bonked" and had to stop and walk around for a while to gear back into driver mode. I've had to make quite a few of these stops. I've been overly cautious because I am terrified of falling asleep at the wheel, and the constant pressure on the gas pedal just sears my already tender Achilles tendon (that's right, 2,700 miles with no cruise control, no air conditioning and no power steering. No stereo either! Ha! Thank goodness for iPod.) But the little old beater of a car and this battered body made it all the way to Whitehorse! Just 108 more driving miles left! Hooray!

The drive turned out to be a positive thing because it meant I made two great stops in Banff and Whitehorse, two of my favorite places in the world. I've enjoyed relaxing meals and rides with friends, and I think these activities will help me bridge the gap between the single-minded focus of the Great Divide and the vague void that is my real life ahead.

And even though it's not the same from the seat of a car, the highway is incredibly scenic. My memories of the AlCan were filled wide pavement cutting through rolling black spruce forests. I forgot that after you meander along the high prairie, you still have to cut through the northern Rockies. That part of the drive is winding, slow and mired in summer construction, but spectacular nonetheless. And I hate having to rush through it, but life doesn't always move as slow as you'd like it to.


And Canada has been good to me. I pulled my Karate Monkey off my car rack this morning, brushed the flattened mosquitoes off her fork, chipped large chunks of New Mexico mud off her frame, pumped up her cigarette-paper-thin tires, adjusted the creaky brakes, lubed the dusty chain, and went out for my first ride(s) since I left the Mexican border. Whitehorse singletrack, like the Banff mountains, is good for the soul. My friends and I did two rides - one before lunch and one before dinner - for about three and a half hours of mountain biking. I struggled more than I thought I would - I couldn't power up the steep stuff, and I felt pretty wiped out by hour three despite a week off the bike. But when I finally hit my downhill stride, I could almost feel myself physically connecting with the flow of past to future. Part of me thought I would leave the Divide and hate my bike forever, or at least for more than a week. Churning up northern dust again proved that this relationship is consuming and difficult, but I might as well enjoy it because it's definitely long-term.

Now if I could only figure out a way to make my relationship with Canada last. Are there any rich, single Canadian men out there looking for a prospective partner? Must like cats and winter. Please inquire within. :-)

P.S. I will start posting more Tour Divide pictures soon.