Unfortunately, this is my third time getting knocked down in the past 13 months. This is my third time trying to rebuild my body from scratch, or close to scratch. This is my third time having to accept that the road back to Ez-land isn’t necessarily an easy one. But what I’m noticing with this lesson that I’m having drilled into my head over and over (I get it Universe, lay off now?), is that each tumble into the Abyss of Blah, I’m forced to redefine my goals. I’m no longer allowed to be the bike racer who makes up a large part of my identity with objectives and a plan to achieve that objective.
Instead, I’m forced back to the very basics each day: Today I would like to ride my bike. I would like to feel good while doing it.
And more than that, if I achieve the first two goals, I add on a third: I would like to ride my bike in a manner today that allows me to do the same thing tomorrow.
It’s sort of like my tiered racing goals: Finish. Finish healthy and happy. Finish fast.
Regardless, something in the three handfuls of pills I take each each day seems to be working. Whether it’s the B Vitamins, the fish oil, the hormonal support, or the Emergen-C-like powder that I have to dissolve in my mouth twice a day (I like to pretend I’m Matthew Lee from Ride the Divide eating Emergen-C in Fernie, but I’m generally too focused on not sneezing it out out of my nose to have any semblance of bad-assery), I’m actually able to not spend my entire day on the couch. In fact, rides have been happening.
Scott had a new pony waiting for him out in Grand Junction, so we decided to make a weekend of the trip. I got out on one noteworthy ride at Lunch Loops during our two days and change there. I’d put some beefier tires on the bike and within 15 minutes, decided that I was never going to run skinny race tires ever again in my life. We rode up some trail and then down another one. I was half tempted to rally for another lap with a descent down Holy Cross, but the voice of reason, and a stomach wanting lunch, kept the ride at a nice hour and a half.
Photo from Scott. I didn’t actually think I’d feel good enough to ride, so I left the camera at home. D’oh.
We awoke semi-early the next morning to try a lap on Holy Cross before the rains came, but when it started sprinkling as we reached the parking lot, I hightailed it back. I’ve done Lunch Loops in the rain. Not recommended.
Instead, we headed home, hoping we’d find some clear skies somewhere. Gunnison delivered and we snuck in another hour and a half of riding with some fun sessioning on the rocks of Hartmans before the skies opened up on us as we reached the car. Any day with a trip down Beck’s is better than a day without.
Day 3, I was still jonesing to ride. We opted for the classic short Salida loop of North Backbone, Backbone, and the un-named trails back to town. The plus side of knowing that I’m not out on a long ride and have all the time in the world is that I’m actually putting in a concerted effort to ride rocks that I normally wouldn’t.
Maybe I’ll actually come out of this funk a better rider.
I woke up on Day 4 still feeling good. I wasn’t going to argue with it, so after a day of working and having my eyeballs bug out from my head from too much time looking at the computer trying to put commas in all the right places, we headed out to ride Guts, the trail that I had crashed on in 2011 and knocked two of my teeth heinously out of place. What resulted was a trip to the ER, stitches in my lip, and two root canals. My bank account wasn’t happy on that one, but on the plus side, I’m buddies with an awesome Salida dentist who mountain bikes now.
I love this place.
The 2,000 foot dirt road climb seemed easier than it was a week and a half ago. We didn’t set any land speed records going up it, but we made the most of enjoying the changing leaves and the shadows of the canyon. The contour trail was delightful as always, even better with beefy tires, and then we reached Guts. I stood at the top of the steep section where I had crashed and scratched my head at how I possibly could have thought I’d get down it safely two years ago. I pointed out the offending rock to Scott and told it I didn’t appreciate its location. Once I got past walking my bike down the steep and rutted section, it was a rollicking good time the rest of the way down. Turns out, it’s a lot more fun when you’re not convinced your front teeth are irreparably damaged.
The loop took us three hours, only half an hour longer than it took our very motivated group in 2011. But it was a legitimate ride. Baby steps. Gentle, deliberate baby steps.
Tomorrow I rest, because with my first two goals achieved, it’s time to be kind to the body and let it recover from being so good over the past 96 hours.