Cures for the springtime mehs
You'll have to forgive me if I'm a little quieter on my blog these days. I'm just going through my annual period of readjustment that I've come to think of as "the springtime mehs." This begins when temperatures climb into the 80s, and I remember that summer is coming and summer is long. I regard summer with the same disquietude that many people feel toward winter. I adore winter — from deep cold Alaskan winter to (ideally) rainy and mild California winter. I manage summer, with its hot hot heat, searing sunlight, insects and wide array of allergens. I'll admit the outdoor stoke just doesn't come as easily when faced with these discomforts. I'll also admit that most of my outdoor stoke is driven by the prospect of adventure — any adventure. Even backyard adventures can be full of novelty and discovery. But as I enter the fifth year in my tenure as a Californian, adventure admittedly takes more creative spark than it once did. Some weeks, inspiration is running low, it's hot outside, and I find myself contemplating Lifetime Fitness memberships and other ways to avoid the outside.
As we crossed over the ridge and dropped into Rodeo Valley, we passed a coyote making a ruckus near the trail. She was yipping and howling loudly in a way that seemed directed at us, and wasn't backing down. Just when I wondered whether there was a full moon making all the animals act weird, a bobcat leapt across our path. We raced the fading sunlight back across the bridge, filled with renewed stoke.
Montebello Road is our go-to hill climb. From our house, the ride is 17.5 miles round trip, and Montebello Road itself climbs 2,000 feet in 5 miles. It's ideal for a quick weekday workout, so I ride this route anywhere from 1 to 3 times a week when I'm at home, and have for four years. I've logged well over 200 trips up Montebello Road. What better way to battle the "same old" mehs by riding the same old route a whole bunch of times in a row?
Yeah, Beat and Liehann didn't really get the logic either. But I was quite excited for these Montebello repeats. Five times would log 10,000 feet of climbing in 50 miles, and that was the goal. We parked the car with a cooler full of cold drinks and a couple of sandwiches at Stevens Creek Reservoir, and took off at our own paces for our chosen number of climbs. I enjoyed myself immensely, spinning up a road I could almost ride with my eyes closed (not really; there are really treacherous drop-offs lined in poison oak) and daydreaming about Alaska. Since I got back from our recent travels last month, I've noticed that all of my Alaska daydreams still revert back to my 2014 walk to McGrath with Beat. It was just such a special trip, and not so emotionally wrenching as my more recent tour on Alaska's western coast. I think I'm just really excited about the prospect of getting back on the Iditarod Trail next year. It makes for great daydream fodder when summer is coming, because summer is long.
Each lap I returned to the car for cold drinks and a snack break. It was just so simple and relaxing. Sometimes repetitive laps through familiar places are just the right cure for the adventure blues. Plus, it's a fun activity for geeking out on Strava data:
Now I'm curious how many of these laps I can complete before my pace falls off a cliff. I have an ultimate dream of 100 miles of Montebello — 10 laps and 20,000 feet of climbing. Liehann and Beat are not so convinced that this would be any fun at all (it would be a 12- to 13-hour ride, requiring an early start and an entire day.) But they weren't so sold on today's plan initially. Both told me at the start that they were going to bail after two laps, and I caught them both smiling all the way to the end. (Beat rode his loaded mountain bike and did four laps. But he looked strong after feeling so down on Saturday.)
This week I'm planning to re-introduce long runs into my life. Beat and I signed up for the Ohlone 50K next month, and it's been quite a while since I completed a long run (the White Mountains 100 notwithstanding.) When one is awkward and clumsy, running is always an adventure, and I'm looking forward to this, too.