Monday, July 16, 2012
Back to the Ordinary (and that's OK)
The week that followed last weekend's Durango Dirty Century was a fairly long one. Back at my desk. Plenty of (too much?) time to think. Excitement, challenge, exposure to the raw power of Mother Nature; replaced by fluorescent lighting and getting lost in a world of data and logic.
Wednesday I got back on the bike, just for a routine after work loop that usually takes me 45-50 minutes. The active monsoons were pounding up high in the Arkansas Hills back behind my loop. I wanted the ride after three days of the workplace. And I wanted back on the horse. Would I be spending the rest of the monsoon season hiding in the house for fear of water, mud, and lightning? Storms up there north of town go off the back of the hills and into South Park. Should be fine for 40 minutes. I left for the ride as soon as I could after getting home from work.
Twenty minutes after I started I was getting spattered with rain. I hammered a very hard pace, intent to finish. But for the last 10 minutes of the ride I was pounded with hard rain and chased by lightning with thunder booming inside a 5-count. Damn! Two rides, two chances to be killed by Mother Nature! One miles and miles away from any shelter high in the San Juans, one within a couple miles of my house.
Thursday night I got in a ride with only a light spattering of rain and no close lightning. Friday morning I went in to work late and got a lovely morning ride on the local trails.
Saturday I was kind of sleep-walking through much of my day. I spent most of the day doing things that hadn't been getting done, like taking recycling to the drop-off and mowing my lawn. The high country looked totally socked in starting by lunchtime. We had a hard rain in town mid-afternoon.
Kathy and I waited too late, then tried to dash out for a late-afternoon ride between storms. Guess what? We got caught in a ridiculously fast-moving storm. Once again, lightning flashed over my head and the thunder came so soon that I knew it was less than half a mile away!
Sunday I got myself up and going. I wanted at least one decent long ride for the weekend. I headed from town toward the Marshall Pass country. I left home before the sun cleared the horizon. Plan was to get up to a decision point between climb to Marshall and much shorter climb to the Rainbow Trail Head. Either 3.5-4 hour ride if that's all Mother Nature would allow, or 6-6.5 hour ride if things looked safe. Rule #1 was to stay away from storms. Just say no to being killed by lightning, or even soaked to the skin again.
I pedaled like I was in an XC race right from the house. I was racing for a chance to finish a whole ride.
Made my bread-and-butter town-Marshall Pass-Silver Creek Trail-Rainbow Trail loop without any foul weather. Turns out the clouds built up a little later than they have been, I started early, and I rocked a pace that I haven't pulled off for years. Got to Marshall in less than 3 hours from the house. I can't remember doing that kind of pace for years.
I rode the first 4/5s of the ride as fast as my legs would take me. Hit a bit of a wall on the Rainbow so my overall time was relatively ordinary, but the rain didn't catch me.
It was weird to have a grand, beautiful loop seem completely ordinary. I never get tired of it even though I do it at least 8 or more times per year. But by comparison to what I did last weekend, it was totally ordinary and routine. But that's OK.
The monsoons this year are hard core. Damn good thing. The forests and scrub lands need it really badly. It's obviously cramping my style, but I'll take it.