Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Return of Pugsley

I wanted to go for a ride this evening, but I had a lot of reasons why I should not. It's my last week to train and test running gear before I need to taper for the Susitna 100. It seems lately every time I go for a ride longer than my commute, my angry knee flares up. There wasn't enough new snow to cover up all the glare ice on the trails. I wanted to meet up with my friend Bill for dinner. And I caught a cold; my throat was sore, my ears were clogged and my sinuses were all gummed up. Oh, and it was -6 degrees outside.

But as I prepared for my commute to work, I grabbed my snow bike, Pugsley, anyway. The frigid air slapped me like an angry friend and the wheels seemed glued to the snow. I had neglected to add air to the tires, and they were down to 6 psi or less. I pedaled as hard as I could but still the bike moved like it was towing a truck. I forgot about the cold and concentrated on how much my legs and lungs hurt. My commute to work is 2.5 miles, and flat. "I can't ride tonight like this," I thought.

As the day wore on, I frequently walked past the windows to the courtyard and glanced at Pugsley tethered to a frost-coated pole with a pink cable lock. He looked like a puppy dog waiting patiently for me to come outside. I realized that Pugsley and I hadn't gone for a ride in weeks. In fact, we hadn't gone for a ride since Dec. 31, which meant I had yet to take Pugsley out in the calendar year 2011 - and it's February. Guilt washed over me. Not because I really think my bike has feelings, but because I'm also supposed to be training for the White Mountains 100, which is less than 7 weeks away. "I guess I can muster up some kind of ride tonight," I thought.

The air was calm and cold at 5 p.m., but the sunset cast the mountains in a warm light. Trails were covered in a thin layer of snow, but it was hard-packed and faster than expected. I had aired up the tires and raised the seatpost to counteract my angry knee feeling, and the results were amazing. Instead of grinding along a flat river trail, I was able to power up steep hills and fly along the flats. I wended through the forest on tight singletrack and sweat profusely as I cranked up the soft-packed snow along the upper reaches of the mountain. By the time I reached Mount Sentinel's summit, my balaclava was encased in clear ice and my smile was as wide as the sprawling city lights stretched out in front of me. Behind me await a long descent, fast and frigid and euphorically exhilarating. I had nearly forgotten what that felt like, to coast free.

Oh, Pugsley. Yes I did miss you.

13 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:09 PM

    I am kind of shocked that Adventure Cycling doesn't have indoor parking for its employee's commute bikes :)

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  2. Never, never neglect your bikes! ;>) Paul

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  3. I'm really happy to see a bike post again! If your knee issue is due to overuse or joint wear, try labrada elasti joint. No, I don't sell it. It worked great for me to get my worn out knee back to useable condition.

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  4. Anonymous5:46 AM

    yay! she's back on the bike

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  5. I would never slap you even if I was angry.

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  6. Anonymous7:56 AM

    Jill, I have been a follower for awhile and just moved to missoula. I was wondering if maybe you could start including the location/name of the trailheads you use when you go out? Im so eager to get out but the only trailhead I have found is the "M" trail. THANKS!

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  7. Durango Joe8:38 AM

    Jill,
    I regret to inform you that the sore throat/ear/sinus thing you have going on is not to be underestimated. A lot of people down here have wrestled with it, and it is "creeper" - that is it comes on slow but it lingers and causes ear infections as well as extreme fatigue and exhaustion, even weeks after the initial symptoms. I hope I'm wrong, but it may adversely affect your performance in the Sustina, or even preclude it. Even hard men and women down here have had to lay low for days/weeks after catching this bug pernicious. But again, I hope I'm wrong.....

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  8. Yay, yay for new bike posts! I enjoy hearing about your new adventures in running but I love your bike adventures. I second Durango Joe, on the cold/flu. I got it and it knocked me out for 2 weeks, then low energy for a month, then I got an ear infection that knocked me out for two weeks. Take care of yourself so it doesn't get worse.

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  9. A wee taster of the posts i have missed on here...
    glad Pugsley still has a place in your blog...

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  10. Durango Joe2:25 PM

    Oh yeah, not to be a total bummer, but one last symptom that everyone has reported - once your sore throat starts to feel better and your sinuses open up, you may notice that it has slowly, almost imperceptibly crept into and inflamed your bronchial tubes; you'll feel tightness and have trouble catching a full breath for a week or more. Don't kill the messenger, just telling you so you're fully informed before you set out on your epic event.....

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  11. The Pugsley smiles and says "the first cut is the deepest"

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  12. Anonymous1:32 PM

    Was just at a bike shop during lunch break today and saw a Surly Pugsley on display. I thought of you, Jill! I wish I had room and money for another bike, because a Pugsley is what I would get.

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  13. Wow! your bike rocks! I think it's really enjoying when cycling on snow.. hmmm..

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