Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going

So immediately after completing my U2 tour, I slid right into cycling with two events for which I’d already registered prior to my shoulder problems: Mad Anthony River Rally (MARR) and Roscoe Ramble. You might wonder, “Wow, so, how many weekends in a row have you been out of town?” And the answer would be five. You might also observe, “Boy, that sounds exhausting.” And you would be right.

I’m so looking forward to an entire weekend of not having to go anywhere. Of sleeping in. Of taking things easy. And that will be the joy of the coming weekend. I’ve been pretty much lagging behind sleep since Moncton because I have had so much catching up to do on things at home that my restless mind has kept me up longer each weekday evening. I guess my body doesn’t just bounce back like it did when I was younger. Or perhaps I didn’t notice the lack of sleep so much when I was younger… Either way, I’m looking forward to some peace and quiet. At home.

I plan to get back into writing mode. The research side of my fandom (ha, ha, my excuse, for my slip into crazy) has ended so now it’s time to sit down and get serious. To test my new wireless printer at home, I printed off a chapter from my rock star novel and packed it with my stuff so that I could read it in my tent at Roscoe Ramble, assuming that I might have trouble sleeping. It was a lot better than I remembered it, though I had some thoughts on altering a few sections slightly. Sometimes I’m surprised when I read back my own writing–on paper–and I realize that I’m actually drawn into my own story as if it were written by someone else. This is a good sign! It’s when my mind starts to wander when reading it that I realize a section needs some help. For the most part, I was right where I should be…. So, I admit that I’m kind of excited. This could be a good story. It may take a few years to write, though (no thanks to having a day job).

The rides. Well, I guess it’s not too surprising that my relative lack of riding in July did not stop me from managing to finish the 100 mile route of MARR. Wasn’t this what got me into trouble with my shoulder in the first place?

*sheepish nod*

Um…. yes….

But I was really careful!! And I went into the ride with the attitude that if I felt like I was causing damage to my shoulder, I would opt for the 62 or 80 mile route. So I just plugged along and my shoulder ached a little, but no more than it used to in the early season (which it really still is for me if you go by miles). I had more problems with my endurance level feeling a bit lower than it should be. But that’s nothing I can’t manage. Pain is manageable. I just shut that little voice off. I can’t say it was my best MARR time ever. And I didn’t feel as great physically in the end as I should have at this time of the year. But I finished and that’s what’s important. The stubborn bullheaded bitch that I am. Never give up, never surrender.

For Roscoe Ramble this year, I elected to do the 55 mile route. For which I ate my pride as all my friends–who were, of course, doing the 75 mile route–lovingly teased me about riding the “newbie” route. I’d originally signed up for the 75 mile route, but due to my lack of hill preparation and worries about over-doing it with my shoulder, I elected the safe route (for once) and asked to switch to the 55 mile. It was reassuring that I felt great after both days of riding and that my shoulder bothered me even less than it had on MARR. So I think I’m back as far as cycling goes. Though I will continue to take it easy, I promise.

I think part of the success is that after MARR, I raised my handlebars slightly. The new positioning seems to be working out a little better. I’m working on distributing my weight evenly between both shoulders and I’ve been doing some of my physical therapy stretches at the rest stops (which looks ridiculous to everyone who might catch me doing this).

The weather this year for Roscoe Ramble was… ehm… interesting. Saturday looked like rain for most of the ride, but nothing happened, and then during lunch, the sun finally made an appearance and everything began to warm up for a beautiful afternoon. I was a little worried about the toughest hill on the route, which occurs after lunch–a climb out of a valley that seems to last forever where you think every bend is the end but are woefully wrong. Turns out I didn’t need to worry, I did fine! I’m sure I was better and faster last year, but it’s not about how fast you complete a climb, it’s the fact that you did it.

My night in the tent was very unnerving for me as three–yes, three–thunderstorm systems came through. I fretted about my choice of setting up my tent beneath a tree–seemed like a great idea in the heat of the afternoon, less so in middle of three storms. My sleep was interrupted by constant worrying that my tree–a huge old thing, by the way–would get struck by lightening and fall on me. I kept envisioning myself as one of my friends in the other tents who would see a violent flash, hear a crack of thunder, and my scream as some branch or entire tree squashed me out of existence. Okay, and, as uneasy as I am about storms, I have these kind of thoughts all night in my house. But still. Let’s just say that it was incredibly hard to suppress my gasps which usually follow every sighting of lightening at home. I spent the night with my camping pillow and blanket over my head, pretending I was somewhere else. I had to resist the urge to jump into one of my neighbors’ tents for comfort. Sometimes it sucks to not be a kid and living with your parents… (They always let me sleep in their bed during t-storms. Maybe that’s part of my problem as an adult?)

Needless to say, my sleep wasn’t that deep all night. But that’s pretty usual for me in tents anymore. I’m getting too old for sleeping (comfortably) in tents…

Sunday was a damp ride back to the ride start (which was Kidron for me). The world was wet from the previous night’s storms. I didn’t encounter any significant rain during the ride, just occasional drizzles, and sometimes it just seemed like I was running into a mist when I as going down hill–not really rain, per se, or maybe a “Seattle rain.”It was about 62-68 degrees the whole day–chilly, but fine as long as you were riding. The sun kept fighting to beat out the clouds, but it never completely won the battle. Despite all the gloom, however, I heard lots of remarks from first time riders about how great they thought the ride was and promises to do the ride again. The scenery in Holmes and Coshocton counties is beautiful–rolling hills, farms, empty roads–no matter how gloomy the weather is. It really doesn’t even seem like it’s Ohio down there; with the Amish communities, it’s like a land lost in time.

So I survived Roscoe Ramble and all its hills. I’m feeling pretty confident about getting back out on the bike now that my shoulder is doing better, keeping in mind that I should not push it. Maybe this year is an off year for me. It’s good to take a break for a bit and, really, I’d been saying for the last year that I need to balance some of my activities a little more. I should probably try to do some more hiking. Or try my hand at some other activity. I know that this summer I just replaced biking with U2. But, you know, that’s me–when I love something I’m passionate about it all the way, no holds barred, no casual approach to loving it all.

If only more people were like that, right? Passion is the spice of life and I cling to people who feel a burning to do something with their unspent energy.

This is about the time of the year that I start thinking about I’m going to do next summer. I’m currently weighing two options:

1. The Great Big FANY Ride – A week long bike tour of a region of New York. I’ve wanted to do this ride for awhile now, since I became aware of it and after surviving XOBA. I haven’t done a week long ride since XOBA and I’d really like to do another.

2. Climb Mt. Whitney, California’s highpoint, with my Uncle Mart. My Uncle Mart is the person who I credit for getting me into outdoor activities. On my first ever trip to California at age 10, he took me white water rafting down the American River with my cousin Angy and Grandma H. The second time I came out, as a teenager, he took me backpacking in the mountains with Angy and my aunt Gabriela. Both experiences left such great impressions on my memory that as I envisioned my life as an adult, I planned that I would be a great adventurer just like my favorite uncle. He is the reason I’m the outdoorswoman that I am today.

You can take part in helping me decide. I’ve posted a poll here. I want to do both equally so I’m feeling a bit wishy-washy. I’m interested to know what your thoughts are. Thanks in advance!

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