Monday, July 11, 2011

When Life Hands You Lemons You Say "No I Will Not Jump the Fence, and Go Ride Your Bike in the Grand Canyon"

Okay, so I definitely realize that it's been a while. While I would like you tell you that my life has been so titillating that I couldn't even take a minute out that would be a complete lie. I basically just stopped June, it's almost like it didn't exist, because well I felt like I didn't exist. Honestly I didn't do anything. I rode my bike a total of 5 times, 5 times in 30 days- I used to ride 6 out of 7 days. That's quiet a sorry statistic. But I also felt like I needed it. When I had about 3 weeks left of college my Russian tutor and I were practicing some vocab and he asked me the next time I was going to relax, and my answer was "в месяц" which means "in one month" which he laughed at. It's so true at college you literally don't stop, there is always more you can be doing, if you do take a break it's almost like you feel guilty for not doing something. I feel like it almost took me a whole month to decompress, to get back to sleeping a solid 8+ hours a night, to start not feeling guilty about reading a good book, to actually sit and watch TV without trying to multitask with other reading or problem sets. It felt good to put the pause button on. But that wasn't exactly my intention when I left college. Ha

I actually took a "research job" in Arizona. I say research job loosely at this point. I was told that there would be plenty of mountain bike trails around the place I would be staying. Little did I know that those trails weren't actually maintained by local bike shops or the IMBA (international mountain bike association) no no no, these trails were maintained by 12 year old drug runners. And well most of the trails were actually out of commission due to the fires that are thought to be started by said drug runners. They also failed to mention that I would be living in Mexico, without much chance of returning without jumping the fence (don't worry, they knew a great place to do it). So realizing that the headlines would not be kind to a naive American student who disappears or gets shot and not wanting to create an international crisis because let's be serious Hilary has enough on her hands these days. I got the heck out of dodge! 
When life hands you lemons. . .

I began moseying my way back home. I stopped at the Grand Canyon and found out it was cheaper to ride my bike in than drive in. So I did, I figured I'd save money and be environmentally friendly while getting a workout in (the hill up seemed a lot shorter when I was driving it). Plus the money I saved I used to buy my Godfather a mug at the gift shop (maybe now he'll start reading this *cough *cough). I went to the first two lookouts and then realized the next 17 would probably look the same so I rode back out and loaded up my bike and drove out. My original plan was to go to Crested Butte for some serious mountain biking the next day but I didn't quiet make it that far and instead stopped at my family's summer cabin and rode around there. It's a lot different riding at 12,000 feet elevation than at sea level (i.e. sucking major air). I was back in Boulder a lot sooner than I thought I would be, but I didn't hate it. 

When I was there looking for a job and catching up on the Housewives of New Jersey, Molly found out about a ride in Colorado Springs called the Starlight-Spectacular. I was planning on heading home that day, but who can pass up a 22 mile ride at midnight in Garden of the Gods? Not this kid. Especially since it was a contest to see who could come up with the best costume and lighting scheme. We thought were were on top of our game by coming up with a pirate theme. We thought it was awesome until we got there and realized these people take their costumes very very seriously. We know next year to step up or game.

In honor of Johnny Depp
The ride was amazing though. I was able to pawn a road bike off of Wayne's girlfriend, which helped immensely to shed 20 pounds from my riding my MTB bike. And since it wasn't a race Wayne and I did an extra lap in the Garden before we headed out to the rest of the ride through Colorado Springs and Old Colorado City. It was a loop where we went back through the Garden and then finished on the other side of the visitors center. My front light went out with about 4 miles left and I was left with only the blinking light on my back. By this time most of the group was spread out and I was left pretty much alone in the Darkness. Without being able to see you really have to trust the feel of the road and being connected to the bike. It was amazing to look up at these huge rock formations that were illuminated by only the moonlight. It definitely felt extra-terrestrial, which you know I've had so many of those experience to compare it to. 

 I drove home so that the next weekend I could do the Big Mick. I rode my bike once that week at a trail in the Black Hills, which let me tell you definitely is nothing like the East Coast. The trails at home are much longer and usually a giant loop, where on the EC most of the space is condensed and you still have 9 miles of trail but only on 2 square miles. It was cool as the landscaped changed so much going from pine trees and descending down into a field of aspens, going through multiple streams and going up steep grades only to go screaming down on the other side (the screaming reference isn't meant that I screamed, but someone could). So I did that, and then the Big Mick came. This is actually my 3rd year doing it but only my 2nd year where I've actually officially been in it under my name. It was actually strange because the day before I was driving Barb and her brother up to Lead since they were doing the 100 mile and we stopped on the way at a little restaurant basically in the middle of nowhere because Barb's brother had left his jacket there the night before. We walked in and let me tell you this guy can make conversation with anyone, so while I'm in the bathroom he strikes it up with these 2 guys. These two guys actually turn out to be looking for a ride to Lead, but they have two bikes they need to take up. Well we do have a bike rack and we are going to Lead. It turns out that these guys were trying to ride the whole trail from Lead to Edgemont and back up to Lead, in one day- that's more than 200 miles. Well they called it quits at this bar and weren't sure how they would get back up there. So we loaded them up and continued our adventure. It actually turns out one of the guys used to live in Worcester, which just shows how much of a small world it is. 

The group after the ride- everyone made it!
The Big Mick was good, one of Barb's friends decided to do it on a whim so I rode with her for a while starting out. I know her not that well but well enough, so when I saw my first snake, not wanting her to think I was crazy because if anything it was only a little bigger than a worm, I couldn't freak out. So I remained as cool as a cucumber on the outside while my stomach did flips on the inside. I got past that one only to have another one a mile later go right under my tires. Oh I squirmed but once again did not want the crazy card to get pulled so like England did, I kept calmed and carried on. It worked out because I couldn't internalize running over a snake like I usually do and really freak out. But it also helps being on a MTB because you don't quiet feel the thump thump as on a road bike. What's really ironic about that is on the way up I was telling them that in the 2 years I have ridden it, I've never seen a snake. I tell ya God has quiet the sense of humor, and I will be sharing some words with him, eventually. The rest of the ride went off without a hitch, probably because of all the licorice I loaded up on and took to go in one of the rest stops (Thanks Denise!)
Mile 16- the best rest stop!

After the big Mick I started running more, as I have signed up for a marathon in October, I could probably start another blog about how that training is not going. But after not running for so long, and being able to go so fast on the bike (my top speed is 52.8mph, I'm still looking for a hill to break that speed) running seems soooo slow. But that's okay the marathon will be really fun because a lot of people will be doing either the half or the full, so at least I'll be in good company with sharing the misery. 

I still haven't gotten back on the road really, I'm working on it, but we'll see. I'll have you know that I have lent Machine Gun Kelly to my dad, as a hope to spur him into riding. If anyone can, MGK can get the job done. But we'll see. I'll also tell you that I have not named any of my other bikes so far. Because once you name something you definitely get attached to it. Like when I left Petzel (my waterbottle) on an airplane, I came close to causing a National Security issue. I can only imagine the hysteria I would have been in had I named my road bike. I should also let you know that one reason I decided to blog now, is court got moved to later this week, so you know I didn't want to load you down with a whole novel about everything next week. But I'll let you know how it goes. I don't really want to say anything incriminating about what will happen to the guy if the jury finds him not guilty, so I'm hoping for the best. So that's where I'm at not too exciting most of the days, now I watch the Tour de France and count that as my ride. Which for those of you who haven't been watching you missed a couple of epic crashes in the past few stages. One rider was seriously taken out by a car(!?!?!) A car, on a race course. Which leads me to believe there is little hope for us mere mortals. But at least I've already gotten that out of the way.