Saturday, a day normally spent having coffee, doing chores and hopefully squeezing in a bike ride. Life was so structured before...well, just before.
This Saturday though, now that I live in the upside down world, things are different. I got up early, had coffee and a bowl of raisin bran to fuel the day, loaded up my bike and headed out. I don't need to tell anyone where I'm going or when I'll be back. I do as I please, when I please and how I please.....and it's weird not checking in with anyone.
I actually emailed the girls just so I feel like I'm still plugged in. (and just in case things go wrong and they have to come get me) It's all very strange but as I'm learning its my new normal.
I met my friend Lynn in Livermore and we rode out Mines Rd to the junction and back. It's about a 50 mile out and back with 4000ft of climbing and is a perfect ride for me as I continue my initiation into this weird place I now live. It's fairly tough, starting off with a long climb and it's lightly traveled which allows me to turn my thoughts inward.
My bike, always a trusty companion, has accepted its new role as full time therapist. It willingly accepts the abuse as I stand and hammer the pedals trying to drown out the thoughts in my head with the pounding of my heart and the loud ragged breath this type of effort produces.
Eventually, realizing there's no way I can keep burning matches at this rate for the entire day, I back off. I sit, settle into what i hope is a nice smooth spin, letting my heart rate return to normal and dropping back so Lynn and I can chat as we climb.
We take it easy and talk for most of the ride out to the Junction where we sit in the sun and enjoy a gatorade while getting ready for the climb out. It's taken us about 2 hours to get to this point and I haven't fueled as well as I should have. Any nutrients from the raisin bran this morning are burned and gone and as I stood to make the last climb before the descent to the Junction I could feel the twinges of a cramp deep in my hamstring.
From the junction back to the top it's about 5 miles and by now the sun is out and it's pretty warm. Obviously not hot by Livermore standards, but I'm guessing it's almost 90 degrees with no shade and the heat coming off the road asphalt makes it feel much warmer.
As the climb begins both Lynn and I have gotten quiet and are focused on making smooth circles as we sit, sweat and focus on forward movement to the exclusion of all else. It's here that I want to be. Deep into the pain cave, all thoughts and focus directed only at moving my bike forward, thinking of absolutely nothing but making my legs turn and staring at the road ahead.
It's finally quiet now, both inside my head and outside in the empty canyons which surround me. The sound of skinny tires rolling on hot asphalt barely registering on a brain and a heart that has been too tortured and twisted for the past few weeks....this is the place I seek more and more frequently. A place to hide out from the world...a place I can check out and escape.