Sunday, January 25, 2015

January heat wave

It's been a productive week-plus, but more time than I care to admit was spent coughing up gunk that was still lodged in my lungs, and fretting about all the reasons why I maybe should just cancel the plane tickets to Unalakleet and not embark on a Bering Sea coast tour in March. For all the potential this bike trip has to be an incredible and intense experience, that meek little voice keeps reminding me that yes — it will be an intense experience, and yes, there are a lot of intimidating unknowns, and yes, I'm not all that strong, and yes, I'm not overly confident in my mechanical skills, and yes, that doesn't matter anyway because the terrain is going to be so exposed and the windchill so extreme that I'll be lucky if I can stop long enough to eat and drink. Even fixing a flat tire will be out of the question if the weather's horrendous, which is to say if there's typical weather.

It's funny that I'm so dubious about this trip. If it were a race, I might be able to bolster the self-confidence to get over myself and be brave. When outside influences set the parameters, it's easier to convince ourselves that something is doable. But because it's my own plan, which I dreamed up with no encouragement save for my own overactive imagination, that meek little voice has more sway. "This is kind of crazy. You're going to be scared. Maybe you should just switch those tickets to Hawaii instead."

"But I don't even want to go to Hawaii. It's hot there."

It's hot in California. Record-breaking temperatures hit the Bay Area, which means it's 75 degrees, which would make most of the human population giddy. I guess it's okay. I'd rather it was rainy again, but it's bad form to complain about perfect weather.

On Saturday Beat and I embarked on a run into Peter's Creek in the heart of Portola Redwoods State Park — Beat's favorite local trail. The 16-mile route plummets off of Skyline Ridge on a steep fire road, and then continues winding into the Slate Creek drainage on brushy and deadfall-strewn singletrack, before climbing up another wall of a ridge through perilous blowdowns, before finally descending just as steeply into Peter's Creek. The old-growth redwood grove — which Santa Cruz loggers left alone because it's really hard to get in and out of — is about as secluded of a place as you can find in this area. It's more remote than you'd expect.

The scenery is beautiful, but I even after four or five outings, I'm still floored by how tough this run is. I find the treacherous descents to be the most strenuous of all, and I was shattered by the time we worked our way around a small loop along the creek. After that, there's still 3,000+ more feet of climbing in the remaining eight miles, it all seems to be on 20-percent-plus grades laced with more steep descents, and it's all brutal. I haven't done a whole lot of running since August, and I'd almost forgotten just how brutal it can be. I'd like to blame the gunk in my lungs for how worked I feel right now, but that's pretty much cleared out. It has been two weeks, after all.

It's funny because I'd been bugging Beat all week to go for a "long" run this weekend. We only shortened it to a "medium" run when I made a plan with a friend to spend all of Sunday on a long bike ride.

"At least biking's easy," I said to Beat. Then I had flashbacks of gasping and dizziness for most of the final fifty miles in the Fat Pursuit, which made me feel sick to my stomach and renewed thoughts about flying to Hawaii and laying on the beach.

Neil Beltchenko, who took second at the Fat Pursuit, posted this fun finish line photo of Beat, me, and Andrea. At the time I was fighting off what felt like an impending blackout, and don't remember much about the finish, or the hours surrounding it. But we all look so smiley that you can't even tell at least one of us is about to keel over. I found myself thinking, "Look how fun that looks. With that big sexy bike! Think how much fun you'll have pushing that thing through a 50-mph blasting whiteout over sea ice!"

At least this photo helped convince my voice of doubt to tear up those virtual tickets to Hawaii, for now.

Time will tell what conclusions I arrive at while sweating in California over the next month. 


  1. Geez, just move to Alaska and get it over with. 😎

  2. We are having a heat wave up here too..forty degrees and no snow. It's pretty scary. The same people giddy over 75 degrees won't be so happy during fire season.

  3. Hawaii sounds nice. But I know Epic Jill would never really choose a beach on Oahu over a Bering Sea Breeze in February.

  4. I'm sure you could figure out a pretty sweet tour that's somewhere in between sitting in Hawaii and deep freezing next to the Bering Sea, but I know that's not how these things work. So have fun up there

  5. Poor blog. Tweet Tweet.


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