Sunday, June 17, 2012

By the numbers

On Friday, Jan and I set out for an afternoon ride through the enchanted woods, also known as Forest of the Nisene Marks. Jan wanted a much-needed break from his job search and was looking for some solid hours on the bike. I'm always game for adventure but in order to agree to a five-hour ride, I needed to disclose my growing list of disclaimers: Hamstrings tight; Calves still cramping; Tired and prone to timidity; May walk the steeper hills. We logged 13 miles and 3,200 feet of climbing on the Aptos Creek Fire Road before launching into the technical singletrack of Soquel Demonstration Forest for an eight-mile loop with 2,000 feet of heart-pounding descents and climbs.

We decided to climb back to Aptos Creek on a trail rather than take the long road around, which nearly proved to be my undoing. Grades that were sphincter-clenching during descents proved to be nearly unclimbable for my weakling legs. I mashed the granny gear until my hammies bunched into tight knots, then used a kind of sidestep to drag my bike up walls of loose dirt. When I arrived at the top Jan was drenched in sweat but had a cool smile on his face, satisfied with the hard effort. "Is running ruining your biking legs?" he joked.

"Well, actually, yes. Yes it is." Recovery from the Laurel Highlands Ultra aside, I really do feel weaker on my bike even as I become progressively stronger on foot. Maybe it's because lately I've been using cycling mainly as a recovery and recreation activity, and haven't been pushing myself as hard. Either way, my legs felt more sore after Jan's and my little mountain bike ride than they did after nineteen hours of pounding in Pennsylvania. I went for short run today in 100-degree heat (okay, okay, I waited until 7:30 p.m. when the fierce sun had drifted behind enough haze to drop temps into the low 90s) in hopes of loosening them up. My hamstrings and calves actually feel better now that they've had a little run time. I'm not sure how I feel about this development of becoming a stronger runner at the expense of having enough power left over to hang with my cycling friends. Honestly, it's a little discouraging.

Yeah, we both went around the jump. Next time. Ha!
But the actual thing I wanted to post about today was the one-anniversary of my book release. "Be Brave, Be Strong: A Journey Across the Great Divide" officially came out on June 15, 2011. This week I worked on tracking down as many numbers as I could in hopes of figuring out how many copies have sold. It's stretched out over a wide string of distribution channels and it's almost impossible for me to track down all of them. But what I found was encouraging. In its first year, this book sold at least 683 paperbacks and 2,840 eBooks for a total of 3,523 sales. Modest numbers for sure, but not bad for a self-published title in which nearly all of the profit goes to me. I wanted to say thanks to anyone who has purchased the book, for making this first year a good one. And if you have any opinion about it, I always appreciate the posting of reviews.

It's understandably a question I get all of the time: What are you working on now? Someday soon I plan to write a post delving into this more, but the quick answer is, "A lot of different things, but not making as much progress on any of them as I'd like." From this blog, it probably seems like I spend all of my time biking, running and traveling. But really there are still plenty of hours in the day to work, and I often don't make the best use of all of them. I'm still working on several book projects. My idea of a small independent publishing group has yet to spark, but interest has resulted in a few editing jobs (and I'm working on landing more of those.) I'm very close to releasing a blog compilation of essays from the past seven years, with added commentary to tie it all together. I still write the occasional short article here and there, and right now am pursuing more copy writing gigs to pass the time while I wallow in bouts of writer's block.

But things are clicking along. My main goal right now is creating more books; even if they're not as successful, ultimately I believe the work will pay off. I have to say, I do love having the salmon wheel that is Amazon.com out scooping up fish and keeping me in grocery funds while I indulge in five-hour bike rides. Life is good right now, even though my bike legs are weak and slow. Beat is in Zurich on business for a week and I'm hoping to head to the Sierras for a couple of days of solid UTMB practice. The main reason I signed up for a crazy race like UTMB is because the training gives me excuse to pursue one of my favorite things in the world ... climbing big mountains. And the best part is, right now, my legs are good at that.