Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Back to reality

This has been a strange process - trying to recover from last week. And I'm not talking about the 50-mile trek across Northern Utah, although there is some backlash there as well. But, no, Vegas and the way I felt there, and subsequently reacted while I was there, is still troubling me. By Thursday I was pressed against a hard edge of my personality. I was anxious, stressed, disconnected and really not myself. Now that I'm past it, and trying to pick up a few of the pieces, I'm still confused about why I reacted so badly. I think there is a lot to be said about sleeplessness and the mental turmoil that alone causes. But my experience there was somewhat enlightening - in showing me that I may not have as much control over my mental landscape as I'd like to believe.

Still, I am back, and I am fine, and hopefully not that much worse for the wear. A few of my co-workers think I went off the deep end with that 50-mile run, and that is perhaps a somewhat fair assessment. I came home Sunday and crashed hard. I was sick and non-functional on Monday. But after about 22 hours of sleep in 36 hours time, I felt almost completely normal. My friend Bill and I went out for a Tuesday night ride that we both intended to be "mellow." We ended up climbing 3,500 feet to a high ridge above town called University Beacon. We reached the top right at sunset. An steady 40 mph wind howled through the radio towers as we stood against the gale and talked for half an hour. It was one of those incredibly cathartic discussions where two people who don't know each other all that well realize they actually have a lot in common.

Then, suddenly it was dark. We rode a gravel road up, but Bill wanted to take the singletrack down. I switched on my meager headlight, having no idea what I was getting into, and launched in behind him. With a amber and orange sea of city lights spread out below us, I watched Bill's thin silhouette disappear over a horizon line like a roller coaster plunging into an abyss. Seconds later, my own wheel dipped into the headwall and plummeted toward city lights that were still thousands of feet below. I grabbed my brakes but it was too late. I was slipping, skidding down the steep gravel, wide-eyed and half-panicked as my locked-out wheels carried me toward certain doom. All I could see was the blurred sparkle of city lights. I felt like I was crash-landing a plane into Missoula. I braced for impact. The grade lessened and the wheels caught traction. I skidded to a stop. Bill was a few yards ahead, walking his bike. "Yeah, this trail kinda sucks at night," he said.

But it was a fun ride, and turned out to be fairly ambitious - nearly three hours of ride time, and for the most part I felt great despite everything last week. Today my friend Dave and I got together for a mellow hike. I wanted to test my progress on my right foot, which is still sore from running, but not to a level that I think I have plantar faciitis. Still, there is something weird with my arch. I can't quite pinpoint it. Bruise? Sore muscles or tendons? After about two miles it started to feel sore again, and then it began to tighten up. Luckily we kept the walk short. But it was a good reality check, because I was all set to start running again this weekend.

Instead, we came back early, where Dave set to fixing my Karate Monkey. I've wanted a singlespeed mountain bike for a while now, not even quite realizing that I had one all along - it just had too much crap stuck on it. Dave mentioned that singlespeed conversion is as easy as tearing all that crap off and adding a couple of rings. So we set to the project - or, I should say he set to the project. I stood there and tried to learn, I really tried. But teaching me bicycle mechanics is like trying to train a cat how to sit and stay. In theory, they should be smart enough, but in the end all they do is stare off into space and remain perpetually useless.

But Dave did good work, and now KiM is set up the way Surly intended - well, except for the Reba fork. But I'm excited to try out singlespeeding. I already got cold and bored while spinning the simplified bike slowly home, and I imagine I'll be redlined and walking on most of the climbing during my trail ride tomorrow, so I'm well on my way!