Recall that riding time in "Klondike" was cut short this year...thanks to a routine drug prescription that couldn't free itself from jaws of ineptitude wrapped in 47 rolls of Bureaucratic "Red Tape." We are home in Lovely Ouray as I write this update, watching it snow, and with much to share. The prescription debacle is resolved, at least till then next time I need to refill it...now 60 days and counting. I've managed only a single bike ride since Klondike (sniff), a long, steep, grunt up Camp Bird Road to its namesake mine.
The morning after riding up to Camp Bird Mine, we folded ourselves into Suebee for a six hour drive to Denver. Time to visit my older, smarter, and more handsome brother and family in Toledo. Yes, Toledo...as in Ohio. There is a super-rant brewing for the flight back to Denver, but it will have to wait because I'm busy editing out the overabundance of expletives :)). So, back to the bike ride...
|Camp Bird Mine|
Mountain biking up Camp Bird Road has evolved into a spring ritual. Last year, thanks to 6 weeks of intensive "training" in Klondike, I was able to push beyond Camp Bird Mine to Yankee Boy Basin; a first, at 11,000 feet, and hopefully, not the "last." Having tried, failed, and tried again and again before making it to Yankee Boy, well, I now feel compelled to reprise it every year. Problem is, on the heels of a winter spent at lower altitudes, then a week spent eating like a Sumo Wrestler in Sea Level Toledo, and, of course, endless spring snow storms that plague Lovely Ouray's forecasts, Yankee Boy has slipped beyond my grasp.
The ride is grueling, even when in peak form. To take it on when not prepared would be a tad foolish, inviting disappointment...or worse. Alas, there is no way to train for such a ride except to do the ride.
I love difficult rides (hikes, climbs, etc.) for the focus required to stay upright and complete them. There's no room in the mind nor spare energy in the body to waste on worry or negativity. Only the next stroke of the pedal or the next obstacle to negotiate matters...literally thousands of minor victories in battles that add up to a war won. I'm oft asked when I will back off and "smell the roses." My standard reply is, at my funeral.
As opposed to "mental," there is something chemically (organic?) satisfying about setting, then conquering, a "physical" goal. Certainly there is a "high" of pride associated with mental achievements, things like graduating from college, obtaining a Phd...Doctor/Lawyer/Indian Chief. But those types of goals generally have an endpoint, a time when one can say, "it's over; I'm done." Physical goals and/or achievements tend to lure me back to the "trough," so to speak...to do again and again, or commit to something even bigger.
You don't see too many people going for multiple Phd's, but the physical "pool" is filled with climbers, endurance racers, hikers, bikers, joggers, walkers... people who want to bag the next "peak," marathon, 10K...whatever. I'm one of those people, I guess, organic, more physically motivated than intellectually stimulated by "study." Being the "antsy" type, I got hooked on the high of nature's chemicals...a legal "prescription" that I can refill every single day. What can I say, one man's "drug addiction" is another man's stress relief.
I'm not sure what I will do when my body finally gives out... refuses to obey orders from head-quarters. Maybe then I'll work on that Phd, study art and music, then go to the gym after class and play wheelchair basketball.
Certainly there are physical benefits to be had...if I can just survive my "insanity." At 66, I'm not ready to give up summiting those 13'ers and 14'ers in our back yard. But I'm not so head-in-the-sand naive that I can't see the future. I feel the wear and tear. The time will come, and it's not that far away, when I will be forced to let up on the "gas." I won't be a happy camper, but I hope I can find something to take the place of "competition," and that it will still be physical. Till then, I am motivated to stay at it, remain active and fit...keep plugging away at Yankee Boy Basin...the hard way.
Recently, while in Toledo, I made the mistake taking more than a passing glance in a bathroom mirror. Lord, when did that happen? It's weird how our minds like to promote a false self-image, a 20 year younger version of ourselves. From the inside out (in the absence of mirrors), I don't see or feel any different, that I've aged. There's no baldness, graying, wrinkles, bags, and sagging chin-line, just a little egg yolk from breakfast, stuck at the corner of my mouth. But when I took that good, long look in the mirror, I saw my dad. OMG, I'm now him, next in "line," living on Borrowed Time. It sparked a conversation...
Devil's Advocate: You need to start acting your age.
Devil's Advocate: People are beginning to think you have a "Death Wish."
Me: So, maybe I do. It's not like anyone gets out of this life alive.
Devil's Advocate: Well it makes people uncomfortable when you keep confronting them with their mortality.
Me: It's my way of encouraging people to get outside, move, live...the clock tics, you know, and one day it will "toll for thee" and me.
Devil's Advocate: But you could give yourself a heart attack pedaling up that mountain...or crash on the way down and bleed out.
Me: So I should stay in my recliner, live to be a few years older? I prefer to look at my "hour-glass" as half full, not half empty.
Devil's Advocate: What do you mean?
Me: It's not that I have a death-wish so much as I have this fear of not having lived...you know, free, completely...maybe even a little reckless. If anything, I have a "Life-wish."
Devil's Advocate: And you are ok with the risk involved, that by living "free, completely, and reckless," as you say, you may take yourself out before your "time?"
Me: It's a hedged bet, but, yes. I've already lived most of my life so it's not like I have a lot to lose. In fact, I believe that the older you get, the more reckless and free you should live. There are no "do-overs." We got one shot to get it all in, no regrets, and the "clock" started the day we were born.
Devil's Advocate: But what if you were destined to live to be a hundred years old, but you fall off a mountain and die?
Me: Look, life is like a play; it's not the length that matters, it's the performance.
Devil's Advocate: Thirty years of extended life, you'd just throw it in the trash for your chemical buzz?
Me: First of all, the "outdoors" is not a trash can. Besides, life is not a game where "Last Man Standing" wins. I'd rather go out swinging than "ride the bench." Besides, what good is living if you can no longer do the things that brings joy and purpose to your life?
***************The mind is an extraordinary and powerful organ...sometimes our greatest friend, sometimes our worst enemy—sometimes motivator, sometimes defeater. If we focus on "limits," we will be limited. If we focus on "possibilities," we can push beyond limitations. As Psychiatrist and author of "Roads Less Traveled," M. Scott Peck wrote, "One extends one's limits only by exceeding them."
Hmmm, wonder if I can push beyond Yankee Boy Basin...
FYI: A Super Rant brews regarding Spirit Airlines...so stay tuned.
|Avalanches must be bulldozed every spring|