Alaska, with her enticing siren song of beauty and adventure, never fails to tempt me into the depths of physical exhaustion. For a month she persuaded me to dig deep, and so I dug, and dug, until April came and I was flat on my back in California, deep in an energy hole just in time for the launch of spring training. And so it goes. Winter is for playing until I'm exhausted. Spring is for playing until I recover.
So I'm back in California, happy to be settling back into a routine, but frustrated with my current level of fitness and general blah-ness — much like I was in April 2012. And like last year, I figure the best way to deal with it is to go for long bike rides. What can go wrong with a plan like that? (Stagecoach 400 slow meltdown revisited? Good thing I decided not to ride that this year. I only have two tough ultramarathons in May, which is like, at least a month away.)
True to form, we did not get an even remotely early start, despite a forecast calling for afternoon thunderstorms. I didn't care about snoozing away the morning as I had one of my better nights of sleep in a month, sprawled out in our big REI tent with my air mattress and 32-degree bag draped like a comforter over my body. The outside air temperature that night was warmer than some of our Alaska friends' houses. It felt divine but I knew it also foretold of uncomfortable heat during the day. Despite this knowledge, my memory is filled with frozen fingers and shivering snack breaks in Alaska, with a longer-range memory of fending off the drizzling chill in this same region last year. So I filled up a backpack with enough extra layers to handle subzero cold, and enough food to supply a multiday bike tour. But luckily, since my rational side still expected 80 degrees, I also had a ton of water. That thing must have weighed 15 pounds. And I haven't ridden with a backpack in more than a month. My lower back still hurts from this ride.