Friday, September 21, 2012

Jet lagged

 I had this strange dream that I came back to California. Bikes were there, and so were giant cups of soda, and I was somehow outside of myself, watching this familiar world float by as though I both never left and also hadn't yet returned. The pieces of the dream didn't quite fit together because my friend Bill from Montana was there, and really, why would Bill be in California? That part didn't make sense, but the rest of the dream was like my simple, normal life — tinted surreal because I was so fantastically jet-lagged.

I feel like I'm closer to understanding how people manage running hundred-milers, but I doubt I'll ever understand how some people can travel around the world continuously for their livelihoods, and still maintain a grasp on reality. I've traveled across an ocean only three times in my life, and every time I return home, the combination of travel fatigue, deeper-than-normal physical exhaustion, mild reverse culture shock, and significant time change, has knocked me on the floor. I made my way home by Monday evening and have been operating on a semi-conscious, semi-automatic level ever since. Amid the big catch-up game that's inevitable after a month of being away, I've been hanging out with my friend Bill, who actually is visiting from Montana. It's a longish story of cheap plane tickets and girlfriends on business trips, but he arrived in San Francisco four days before I came back from Europe. By Tuesday, he'd had his fill of "solo urban hiking" and was raring to ride.

I felt barely functional enough to drive on Tuesday so I nixed the possibility of any exercise and suggested we go watch a cross race in the city where my friend Leah would be racing. As it just so happened, this was "cross" in multiple definitions of the word, and both men and women were sporting an array of hilarious outfits. It was a rogue cyclocross race, loosely organized, at an undisclosed location to prevent unwanted inquiries. We never did figure out exactly who won, but we had a lot of fun discussing nominations for best dressed.

 By Wednesday, I'd run out of excuses and cross-dressing distractions, so I took Bill on a mountain bike ride. I set him up on my Fatback under the justification that he's a tall guy and it's my largest bike, but I also know that Bill loves fat tires. We rode my "house trail," the Steven's Creek Loop, which is still a hard 30-mile ride with 4,000 feet of climbing. I didn't feel stellar but I tried not to whine because Bill remembers me back when I used to be tough. Eventually, my quads started failing — it's hard to explain, but the muscles were twitching and it just didn't feel like they were firing, like the fuel lines had been blocked. This slowed me down a lot, and was also the point where the excuses started flowing. Bill wouldn't buy "jet lag lots and lots of mountains in Italy" as a real excuse and kept asking me, "What's wrong with you?"

 On Thursday I wanted to show him famous California redwoods and the coast, so I chose a loop around Purisima Redwoods. However, I'd only ridden this loop once before and I was being guided by a friend, so I remembered a lot less about it than I would have liked. At two major intersections with only two choices for turns, I picked the wrong one both times, and we ended up way off course in Half Moon Bay. Rather than pick my way back on circuitous and steep backroads that I didn't know well, I just jumped on Highway 1 and hoped Bill wouldn't ask why our nice mountain bike ride suddenly involved ten miles of busy pavement.

The bright side was I was able to show Bill one of my favorite secret spots in the Bay area, a shaded bluff above the beach where we could sit and listen to waves crash on the sand as vultures soared overhead. I wanted so badly to fall asleep right there. The fact we had a 2,200-foot climb in front of us filled me with dread. I can't say I handled that climb with any kind of athleticism or grace.

Bill is flying out Friday afternoon and my plan for the next week is to sleep. Yes, for a week. I'm volunteering at a 50K race on Saturday, but after that, it's all sleep. I'll expand on that soon, why extreme rest so important to me right now. And to Danni: Yes, I overdid it. Yes, I'm sorry. But no worries. Sleep for a week. I'll be fine. :-)

I will say, it was fun to be back on a bike, broken quads and all. 


  1. I know what you mean about jet lag. I've been completely destroyed even just traveling between the west coast and east coast.
    Thanks to your blog (I've read it "cover to cover") my husband and I should be moving up to Anchorage next summer. Also thanks to you, I'm now reading Fat Cyclist's life story as well. [And I haven't been on a bike since I was 12. I'm more of a two feet on the ground running gal.] But it was the Alaska-love that hooked me, so thanks for making the decision that much easier!
    You have to be careful with the "I'll expand on that later" stuff. Everyone is going to be thinking the same thing! :)

  2. Welcome back Jill...I always seem to be amazed at your adventures...(and Beat)...I know you're 'self-employed', but just how much vacation time does Beat get a year? You two are always out somewhere doing something epic..

    Rest up, and glad to hear you are back on WHEELS where you belong!

  3. Well, I am still under-doing it so I guess we're even.

  4. Matt: I know that's something a lot of people who drop by here probably wonder about. It's true I'm self (under)-employed and even though I really value the work I can do, I tend to prioritize adventure and life experience over productivity. I actually consider this a character flaw but the truth is I'm happy and fulfilled in my life right now.

    As for Beat, he has an understanding boss who allows him some flexibility in his hours as long as his productivity remains high. He often works remotely whenever he can squeeze it in, and much of the vacation time he takes is unpaid. As a couple, we can both do all of this because Beat is well-compensated for his work, and besides bicycles and travel, we live a relatively simple, frugal lifestyle without too many other perks.

    Mary and Laura: I didn't even consider this interpretation but I promise it's not baby-making. Eek.

    Danni: You and I make the best team. :-)

  5. Hah, that's where my mind went, too. That would be one epic adventure baby.

    I've learned that every time I fly from Norway to Seattle, I'm going to be totally useless for at least two days - I've never found a way to beat jetlag, so now I just don't schedule anything for those couple of days. The only good thing is that it makes me wake up at a somewhat normal (according to society) hour.

  6. @Ingunn Yup, I'm sure it's an Internet Law somewhere! "Beware to "expand on that later" lest readership assume the author (that who will potentially be expanding) be with child"

    Now I'm hoping it means a different trek/race/adventure!

  7. I had no idea the phrase had hidden meanings. I guess I'm not frequenting the right blogs.

    Ingunn — I know exactly what you mean. I've never been so awake and alert at 5 a.m. before, nor so sleepy by 9. It's already slipping away, but honestly I wouldn't mind if I could hold on to the morning-personness for a little while longer.

  8. I would have been happy for you if you were preggers, but I am really damn happy this isn't turning into another mommy blog!


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