Sunday, August 17, 2008
The end of summer is nearing and so are two big races. Last week I started cutting down my running and biking mileage in hopes to be strong for Lost Lake on August 23rd and then the Soggy Bottom the week after that.
Tapering is hard. Especially when we are finally getting sunny summer-ish days. I started to get some recurring back pain last week so I really took it easy, but Friday when I woke up with no pain I decided to go out for an easy run.
I ran out the Powerline Pass trail, and headed north towards Hidden Lake on a side trail. Niko ran off to chase some bird, and suddenly I found myself running across the tundra towards O'Malley Peak. I purposely only brought one liter of water and one gu, so that I wouldn't be tempted to overdo it. But the O'Malley ridge was hanging over me and so tempting. I pictured myself bounding up the grassy southern slope of O'Malley that rises over Hidden Lake.
I saw the season's first blueberries and briefly considered picking a hundred blueberries in order to fuel and hydrate my climb to the top. But I had to stop myself and turn around. As tempting as it was, and as beautiful a day as it was, it's more important for me to stay on track and not push to hard this week.
Saturday a group of us drove down to Hope to do an out back ride on the Resurrection Trail. Brian and company were there to do a hard ride, so I told them not to wait for me as I stayed back and took it easy. This is a long, long climb and the scenery doesn't change much in the first 17 miles, but I wanted to climb as far as could without pushing too hard, so that I could do the downhill section, which I will ride in my leg of the Soggy relay.
Because I was trying not to get my heart rate up, I was climbing really slowly. It made this part of the ride somewhat mentally painful. I felt like I had made a wrong turn into the twilight zone. I seemed to be cycling in a circle, but somehow always going up. I pictured myself going up some repeating spiral of brushy tall grass down to a creek bed and long straight stretches of sparse trees followed by another brushy section down to a creek bed, repeat. It was these long stretches of straight, barely climbing, sparse trees that were the most tortuous.
After climbing for what seemed like forever, I arrived above the tree line and decided to have lunch and wait for the guys to come back down. I saw a black bear on the slopes across from me. I watched him for awhile and took some pictures. I decided to keep riding to find the guys when i saw another black bear, but this one was a bit closer. I kept riding slowly and quietly so that the bear didn't see me. I kept riding another half mile and saw yet another black bear. I suddenly felt a bit vulnerable out there above the tree line and felt myself longing to be back in the never-ending tree spiral.
I carefully scratched the word "BEARS" in the dirt with three arrows pointing them out and started pushing my bike back towards the trees while eating my lunch and carrying bear spray in my hand.
The guys soon caught up with me not at all startled by the bears. My paranoia vanished in the company of four other people. The ride down was fast and I finished out the day having ridden 37 miles. Not much of a taper, but since I didn't push it too hard, I feel like I have already recovered fully and it is only Sunday night. I'm looking outside at 10:30 right now and it is almost completely dark, just about the time I should be rolling into Hope at the end of the Soggy in two weeks.