Showing posts from May, 2012

Bike stoke returns

When I went to prep my Moots for a short ride on Tuesday, I discovered both tubeless tires were nearly flat. "That's strange," I thought, until I considered it some more. After finishing the Stagecoach 400 on April 30, I had that period of post-race malaise that I described as recovery fatigue, but was really more like mild shell-shock. Then there was the week of road biking with Keith, the motorcycle collision that further sliced into my bike passion, and a much-needed retreat into running. As it stood on May 29, I had ridden my beloved Moots nearly 1,000 miles in the month of April — and zero in May.

Leah set out to help me change that sad statistic by suggesting a Wednesday ride at Soquel Demonstration Forest, an out-of-the-way but nonetheless popular mountain biking spot for its "deliciously technical singletrack" and "black-diamond" trails adorned with teeter-totters, log bridges, and jumps that will launch the braver freeriders into outer space…

See, California isn't so bad

Back when I lived in Juneau, I tried to coax my friends into visiting me by promising that I could prove why Juneau really "isn't so bad." "Don't worry about the possibility of mind-numbing rain; we can still go ride bikes on the beach and that's actually a lot of fun." Strangely, I never had any Outside visitors besides my parents in the five years I lived in Southeast Alaska. Since I moved to the Bay area, I've had several out-of-state friends express interest in visiting. I guess California is just a more visitor friendly location, and it's fun to have a chance to show off my new backyard, which I also believe "isn't so bad." This past weekend, my friend Danni from Kalispell, Montana, flew down for a Memorial Day vacation.

Another incentive I usually add when trying to coax friends to visit me is the promise that "we don't have to torture ourselves" — since apparently most of my friends assume my notion of "f…

The road ahead

On Monday, I saw my doctor for an annual physical. I was convinced my blood tests were going to show something — low blood glucose levels, iron deficiency, something. Nope. Normal. The doctor asked questions about sleep, weight loss, and stress, which have also worked their way back to normal. Then my doctor had the nerve to suggest that the symptoms I described — general sluggishness, sudden bouts of fatigue in the middle of the day, and lower energy levels — probably had something to do with "the endurance exercise."


But as much as I can understand what's going on with my own body, I really do feel like I'm starting to emerge after several weeks under water, and the Ohlone 50K was my first hit of fresh air in what feels like a while. I suspect that my "fun" spring of biking was a lot more difficult for me than I was willing to admit, and the "short" bikepacking race — the Stagecoach 400 — required me to dig a lot deeper into my reserves, a…

Goodbye to a good bike

I sold my Pugsley.

I know, I thought I'd never write those words. If there was any bike I just assumed I'd keep forever, for sentimental reasons if nothing else, it was Pugsley. I loved this bike. But I didn't love seeing Pugsley hanging on my wall, gathering dust, and never being ridden. I quietly put Puglsey up for sale, and a couple of weeks ago, I mailed him off to his new home in Palmer, Alaska. I like to imagine a bright future of trips to Knik Glacier, beach riding along the Matanuska River, and perhaps even more miles on the Iditarod Trail. A bike like Pugsley deserves to be ridden in Alaska — not languish on a wall in California. Plus, Pugsley *is* just a bike. But I do sort of miss him.

This 16" battleship gray Surly Pugsley came into my life in September 2007. Buying this bike was my method of coaxing myself into signing up for the Iditarod Invitational. I figured if I had the right bike, I could somehow be ready for that kind of expedition (ha!) For the …

Busting out at the Ohlone 50K

If my confidence wasn't already tenuous enough, my body had to go and zonk out on the shuttle bus. Under normal circumstances, I'm a picky sleeper. I need horizontal silence, and no matter how much I want to, I can rarely take naps in vehicles or on planes unless I am: a) drugged; b) on at least hour 36 of sleep deprivation; or c) so physically spent that I lose consciousness involuntarily. After sucking down a large cup of coffee on the way to Lake Del Valle — the finishing point of the Ohlone 50K — I sat next to Beat on a tiny hard-backed seat of a school bus for an hour-long shuttle to the race start. After what seemed like three minutes, we were there and my neck was really sore. But rather than improve my energy levels, the nap left my head feeling like it was sinking into the deep end of a flu-addled haze. I never feel stellar before 9 a.m., but on this morning I was fully distraught about my physical state. Hazy head, lead legs, sour stomach, the knowledge that I had r…

Accepting risk

I'm about to write about something I haven't discussed openly before, but there was a short period of my life when anxiety nearly took control. It was the summer of 2002, and I was 22 years old. I've never been a generally anxious or high-strung person, but I can recall vivid moments of my childhood that were suddenly, and randomly, overcome by rolling clouds of fear and despair. For example, at age 10, while riding in a car through Anaheim during a family vacation, I saw an old blanket on the street and convinced myself it was the body of a missing girl I saw on the news. The darkness I felt still haunts me.

In 2002, strange moments like these returned. One July afternoon a huge thunderstorm rolled over my house as I sat alone in the front room. The blasts of wind and thunder struck me with a fear so deep that I started shivering, even as I failed to understand why I was so scared — after all, I was in my house, under a roof, and I was safe. There was another incident wh…

A harsh end to the holiday

It began where these stories always seem to begin, on a bright and gorgeous morning. Keith and I were pedaling along State Route 120, the high road across Yosemite National Park. We had a big day planned — eighty miles and a long, rolling climb to near 10,000 feet elevation. We were about twenty-five miles in, and I was feeling discomfort from several different directions — yes, remnant undercarriage pains, as well as difficulty breathing in the sustained high altitude. Also, I didn't want to say anything to Keith, but I didn't really like this road. It was a little unnerving — narrow with frequent blind corners, and the kind of traffic and drivers typical of national parks. Sometimes things don't feel right, and I don't know why. Usually when I feel unwarranted negativity, I blame it on physical discomfort.

"I kinda wish we just went hiking in valley again," I joked with Keith. "There are so many awesome trails down there, and oxygen too." But whe…

And on and on

I will say this: It really is difficult to take recovery down time when it's summer, beautiful outside, and the people you spend time with are all out looking for fun. I finished the Stagecoach 400, took a couple of days completely off, and ventured back into easy running for a few days after that. But despite my first truly bad case of saddle sores and lingering tiredness, I've already slipped back toward possibly bad if enjoyable habits. I know I need to make changes in order to stop this cycle of fatigue. If only I could push my willpower in that direction.
My friend Keith is visiting from Banff for a spring road bike vacation that he's been planning for months. I can't blame Keith for the bike binging, as this has always been the plan. It's been so fun to have him here, but we've been putting in some solid miles. Right off the plane we did a hard climb up Monte Bello Road even though it was 92 degrees outside and there's still snow on the ground where …

Climbing to the end

I've found it difficult to write my Stagecoach 400 trip report. All of the words seem to boil down to "I was really tired and rode my bike for a long time." During the race, my perspective was muddled by fatigue, which cast a sort of gray wash over my memories of the trip. I experienced beautiful moments, but not to the levels of intensity I expected. I rode fun trails, but not with the same zeal I normally would feel. And I did despair sometimes, over not much, really ... a sore shoulder, another steep hike-a-bike, a turn I couldn't find. This is just the truth; I wasn't super awesome during the Stagecoach 400. I was slightly broken, struggling, sometimes continuing only because there wasn't a viable way to stop. But when I managed to rein in these emotions, I felt surges of relief, even joy, because it really didn't matter. In the end I probably wouldn't have been much faster at a hundred percent. I might not have even been that much happier at a …

Urban jungle

I woke up with my face in the gravel, cheek pressed into the moist dirt, and my first thought was, "smells like wet cement." I'm not sure where exactly the thought came from; the accumulating hours on the bike were slowly smothering my critical thinking abilities beneath a blanket of basic desires, irrelevant memories, and raw emotions. Now that the moment has passed, I couldn't even tell you what wet cement smells like to me. I guess it's something like a sandy hill above the suburbs of San Diego, enveloped in fog infused with salty hints of the sea. I could hear traffic humming from the distance, but all I could see in front of me was gray mist.

 My head was swimming, pleading for coffee. I had tossed out my chocolate-covered espresso beans the day before, after they melted into an unpalatable blob, so I had no refuge for my cravings. I don't know why I've gotten myself so addicted to this substance, but then again, I think most of our favorite things…