Monday, October 15, 2007

Wenatchee MTBing

What an amazing experience for my first ever mountain biking adventure. I took out my brand new 29er hardtail (Gary Fisher Cobia), despite the fact that FedEx totally banged it up - yes, I plan on filing a claim. Jamie was wonderful and fixed it all up for me the night before we left, even removed a sheared off bolt that I was sure we couldn't salvage.

So anyways, I've never done anything like this before. We were out for 6 hours on Saturday, and 3 hours on Sunday. Saturday's route was Devil's Gulch, a grueling 13 miles uphill, through mud and mudpuddles and rivers and over tree roots and rocks, on a narrow singletrack that wound up and up and up with a dizzying dropoff and scary, DIFFICULT switchbacks and stellar views (which I mostly missed because I was so focused on the trail). The switchbacks ended right before a perfect lunch spot, where we all regrouped and ate our sandwiches together. Despite the fact that I didn't feel at all like eating, I forced down the first few bites of my sandwich, and then realized how hungry I really was and how good the food tasted. Jamie made us his famous "recovery sandwiches," which include avocado, sprouts, tomato, turkey, amazing bread, and great spreads (whatever yumminess he has on hand), plus probably other things that I can't remember. Coming up that part of the mountain, I definitely had some moments where I just felt like quitting right there. I felt totally weak and incapable. But then I thought about all I had done, and how much determination I really had in me, and got back on the bike and kept going. After lunch, it really wasn't that much farther to the top, where we again reconvened and decided which groups would take which routes back to the cabin (there were something like 19 of us in all). My group of 4 girls headed back down the same trail, and it was the best reward ever to go down the seemingly neverending downhill. I had a few small wipeouts, the worst of which gave me a tiny thumb injury and a nice big bruise on my hip, and smaller ones on my shin.

I think I pushed myself harder than I ever have before, at least in that way. I was in so much pain, but it was so much fun. My legs ached and my arms ached and my lungs felt like they would burst and I fell countless times (inevitable in mountain biking, I know), but it hurts so good. I breathed so hard for such a long time, it's amazing I can still feel my throat (though it is a little sore today). (: We climbed almost 4000 feet, and I think that's an accomplishment to be proud of. I spent all of Saturday night in disbelief of what I'd just done. I just couldn't fathom that I was actually capable of what I did. I could handle many of the technical aspects, I wasn't completely overcome by the steep dropoffs or wet roots or slick rocks, and I kept improving throughout the day.

By the end of the day, I wasn't too keen on going out again on Sunday, but I woke up Sunday morning, didn't feel as sore as I expected, and Katie proposed a nice short route, so I couldn't say no. I was the first one with my gear on and ready to go! We headed out about an hour before the boys to get a good head start, and took a ~2-hour trip uphill in a different direction from Saturday. We could all feel the fatigue in our legs from the day before, but I was getting better and I could feel it. At some really steep sections I did get off and walk, but I feel no shame in that, and know that I have plenty of room for improvement - I think I will build one of my goals next year around being better on these rides. The downhill was SWEET on that one, too, and so smooth, with some great banking that reminded me of the velodrome in spots. (: We were back from that ride in about 3 hours, and had time to shower and relax and EAT a bit before the rest of the gang arrived.

It was great that Matt's friend's cabin was so close to the trailheads! The house is right on the fire road that you can take to the different trails, only one or 2 miles away, and a great cooldown once you're off the trails. The weather treated us wonderfully, with absolutely no rain, and brisk mornings turning into comfortable afternoons. The views were spectacular, especially with the fall colors, and the smell of the forests is something that just makes you feel more alive.

Today I'm sore and I have a boo-boo on my thumb and quite a few bruises, but nothing major, no broken bones, and all my teeth. I am still somewhat shocked that I actually accomplished what I did, and trying to process it all. I have to admit that I'm rather proud, and know that this was GREAT training for climbing all the hills they've got here. I just hope I can get in a few more rides before the snow hits the mountains!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I live in Seattle?

Well, I know I do, but it's still hard to believe. Reality should kick in once I get a routine down, start work, find a team, etc... But for now, this all seems so unreal.

Tuesday I went out for my first bike ride as a Seattlite, and towards the end, a guy actually gave me a thumbs up out his truck window, and yelled, "I love cyclists!" as he nodded his head with a big smile. Crazy. In Houston, a guy would have given me the finger as he yelled curse words out his window. What a contrast already. And what a great welcome to Seattle.

Yesterday, Tricia took me on a ride to Seward Park. Despite the fact that it was probably an easy ride for her, I was gasping for air the entire time just trying to stay on her wheel. She said I could pull through if I wanted, or just stay and draft, and I told her I didn't think there would be any pulling through. There wasn't. (: But it was a great ride, even though we got a little rained on towards the end. The days have been spectacular so far, with mostly sun (the only really rainy day so far was Sunday), and some threatening clouds in the distance most of the time. It's been cold (well, cold for someone who's lived in Houston for 4.5 years), but I just throw on another sweater and I'm fine. Then last night I went and did yoga. That was a disaster. My body was already exhausted, so I just got frustrated at myself for not being able to hold the poses.

Since Jamie's been off at Elite Track Nationals, it's given me some time to settle myself in, and get to know his roommates (and Tricia) without him around. Although it'd be great if he was here, it's kind of nice to have that time to bond with them alone. Riain and I share bad TV shows at night, and Paul even gave me ride back from the airport after I dropped of my rental car today, after which we went and had some great pizza in the U-district. And of course Tricia is amazing, letting me borrow her car (AUDI) to pick up my stuff from storage, taking me on rides, and inviting me to yoga (and Monday night dinner). How awesome is she?!

Speaking of Jamie at Elite Nat's, his team took 3rd in the Team Pursuit yesterday - pretty freakin' awesome, considering this is NATIONALS. We're all so happy for him. I wish I could have seen it, but I think I definitely plan on being there next year - to RACE.

I've been having a hard time finding a place to live, especially since I want to be in Wallingford, and not pay out the *%! for a room. I'm picky, what can I say? And it's difficult to find the motivation to look any harder when I am currently living with some awesome people in a great location.

Well, that's all for the update. Riain should get home soon, show me how to feed the cat, and then I'm off on a short, easy ride for today. (: I love Seattle.