Monday, July 29, 2013

bike up ricker

last monday i had a little bike adventure. i told you about the injury, but not the awesome adventure.

it takes longer to tell you about the adventure, because i have to assemble pictures and videos to show you.

and granted, there are pictures of the injury, but i am NOT showing you those. while the wound and the bruises were kind of awesome and the kind of thing you might WANT to show all your friends, in all of the pictures those are most definitely, obviously squishy bits no mater how you crop the frame.

so the photos of that are just for my personal reference.

but there are photos of the adventure! and video! and that all takes a little time to organize and sift through, so i'm finally ready to tell you about last monday.

see, i'm getting ready to do the bitter pill, which is an adventure race. a lot of adventure races are populated by fit little people who can just go out and traipse around on rough terrain for twelve hours and not think too terribly hard about it.

but i am not naturally athletic. to compound that, when i became very ill some years ago i also became very fat and although i'm only just chunky still, i have a bubble butt and thunder thighs and it is much harder to build conditioning than it is to lose conditioning and let's face it, i'm not getting any younger.

so what i lack in strength and ability i have to make up in preparation and planning. i will finish that race if i use my skills and resources well.

part of that is course recon and map study (which i will go on at length about later) but part of it is just wearing the pack for a lot of hours and spending hours on the bike and on foot and just getting used to it. part of it is just doing a lot of climbing, on foot and on the bike.

with the pack.

early in the dayit is possible (and last monday i thought it was likely) that the course will go up the BVAR (that's Bolton Valley Access Road for all you foreigners) and up ricker mountain by way of the ski trails.

and even if the course doesn't go there, that would be an excellent training ride, because nothing on the course will be much harder than that.

it can't be. the terrain won't allow it. there are some bigger hills, but you can't ride your bike up them.

awesome plan, right?

but flask, you might be thinking. what if the ski trails are too rough for you to ride? won't you have to carry your bike up a very steep hill?

why, yes. the race will include a good deal of hike-a-bike (which is code for "the terrain is too rough for you to ride, but you will still have your bike with you"), so i am PLANNING on having to do this. it's good practice. i am thinking early in the day that maybe if i get to the top of vista peak i will hang a left and hike-a-bike over to the ricker summit, just for training purposes.

and i think maybe if i happen to be in the neighborhood i will scoop up that geocache that i STILL haven't found, but i'm not counting on it because it's an ambitious project already.

so i start out at the bottom of the BVAR with my pack and everything and at first i'm thinking what a lovely ride it will be and then i hit the first steep grade.
i simply revise my expectations.

it is going to be a slow, ugly slog and i'll be happy to make it to the top of the road.

view from sherman's passbut then i get to the top of the road and i'm feeling jaunty so i decide to try going up the mountain because, hey, it's a MOUNTAIN bike, right? amirite? who's with me?
and it turns out that riding up the mountain with the pack and everything isn't all as difficult as it could have been and i felt pretty good, considering, so i just kept going, although i was making a LOT of mental notes about the relative dangers of the terrain on the way down and beginning to experience some anxiety about that.

steep terrain + sharp rocks = scary

but then i was on the long flat part of sherman's pass and really, once you've made it that far there's no point in not going all the way to the top and once you're at the summit of vista you might as well just take the hike-a-bike over to ricker summit because you're so close; why NOT go look for that cache?

now, see, the walk over from vista peak to ricker summit is difficult in winter but in summer (particularly a wet summer) it is a wonderland of wild vegetation, sharp rocks, and bottomless mud suckholes-of-doom. what i have since learned is that crews servicing the communications towers up there are frequently injured on the trip and that they will sometimes put off non-emergency maintenance for MONTHS waiting for better conditions.

but parts of it looked entirely rideable to me, and this is where i made THE MISTAKE.

i was riding a little part of it between suckholes and looking at the upcoming suckhole and slowing down and thinking about where i wanted to foot down and all of a sudden i was going down -hard- onto a rock on my left.

but oh, no. i was not simply falling to the left first.

first my front wheel was going to come to an immediate stop and i, carrying a good deal of inertia, was going to slam into the top tube, which was rebounding toward me thanks to modern shock technology.

imagine, if you will, having someone swing an aluminum bar with deadly aim right into your crotch.

for two or three minutes i simply lay on the ground howling.

there was no one to whom i could express my pain; it was the involuntary howling of a beast.

and when i finally gathered my wits about me, i stood up and said simply well. that would have killed a man. it gave me precious little comfort to know that having been born sans Y chromosome meant that i was going to get out of this without a trip to the emergency room.

but did i turn around and start for home? no, i did not.

very carefully and gingerly i started to walk it off, in the direction of the summit.

i thought about what good practice this would be for race day. i thought about testicular injuries and how glad i was not to have taken that blow with a vulnerable testicle inside the damaged structure. i thought about whether or not blisters were forming on my feet. i thought about whether i had enough emergency gear to last me the night in case i didn't make it down. i kept imagining the summit to be "right around this next corner"

and of course, eventually, it was.
i was maybe 250 meters from it when i decided i was not having fun anymore and that maybe i should turn around and go home, but then i thought: that cache. i want to find that cache and not have to come back up here.

the winter trips were fun and all that, but i am not getting any younger and maybe this is hard for you to understand but the pain of having to jam my left foot into a ski boot that's not all warmed up is a pain i can very much do without. the first time i did it, it was a surprise but i was on a mountain top and it was ten degrees out and i HAD to do it. by the second time i did it, i had forgotten how painful it had been.

but now, in my pain i was remembering clearly how much my left foot does not bend where it needs to to slide into a ski boot and i was thinking that i maybe do not ever want to have to plan for that pain again.

it's nonsense, of course. later on i will plan to do things just as painful, but i will plan them from home where i am comfortable and rested.

my lost ski pass!so i get to where the cache is supposed to be, and i can't get a good view of the spot so i step down off of the summit and -well, look over there!- is it?

why, yes, it is.
it is my lost ski pass, the one i had replaced after the first time i was here in winter and the nice lady at the desk thought if i had lost it during the day maybe someone would turn it in and i said i din't think so because if i had to guess where i  lost it, it would have been while i was butt-up in a snowbank at the top of ricker.

oh. you were up there? she said.
yes, i was.
yeah, probably nobody will turn that in, she giggled.

so there it was. just lying where i thought i had probably lost it.

and then kind of anticlimactically, i found the cache.

view from cacheit is um, interesting to note that in the video where i think i am feeling and looking all triumphant and happy, in fact i look ENRAGED.

i can only ascribe this to the extreme pain i was in.

and fear.

i was afraid of the ride down. the ride down was going to be frightening enough if i had been fresh and strong and NOT injured, and the prospect of a steep mountain descent on loose pointy rocks in extreme fatigue and pain was the most daunting thing about the whole day.

so i made the walk back, and i made the ride down, passing one young man pissing off to the side of a mountaintop trail as if he were the only one on it, a young man who exclaimed approvingly MOUNTAIN BIKE! as i passed. i decided to go down by way of swing and work road, in case they would maybe be a gentler descent, with less technical bike handling required.

i got down to my car and fatigue hit me in big giant rolling waves and i got myself home and in a shower, which is where i discovered, suddenly, the torn flesh at the squishy bits, and i got myself dinner and i put a good ginger beer into me along with one o' them rehydration drinks and then i got to bed.

grim determination i smile, walking around these days, because i know i am way more awesome than i look.

i look like a dumpy little middle aged lady, but i am a BEAST who rides a bike up ricker mountain.

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