Lost and Found
The gym’s lost and found
Table evokes mystery:
Lonely socks, shoes, gloves?
Textbooks? Earbuds? Underwear?
No rink, but two hockey skates?
Suggesting to your
Trainer that you want to do
A favorite lift
Encourages him to cause
Some deep muscular regret
I veer down the trail
Trying not to roll over
Any sticks, in case
One is really a little
Snake, bathing in sun-warm dirt
I’d planned on a long outing on my bike today, but found that Mother’s Day wasn’t working like that, so instead I rode over to the hardest trails in town. I planned to focus on my weakness, which is maintaining speed on technical sections, and definitely got some good practice. I wound up doing ten laps of a short loop that demands a lot from me if I want to go fast (or at least fast-ish) – a stretch that has one rock garden, some sharp ups and downs, a few hairpin corners, numerous tight passages between trees, and several narrow bench-cut ledges with loose dirt and stones.
Overall I did well, riding more smoothly than I did last year and feeling like I’m on a training path that will pay off with better results at the Cheq 100 in June and the Marji Gesick in September. I did push it a little too far a few times, grazing some trees and even once riding off the trail into the thicket. I scraped up my forearm, but it’s just a flesh wound, a bloody little reminder that if you’re not crashing, you’re not trying.
Just as I turned for home, I noticed that my bike computer wasn’t on my handlebars anymore. 15 minutes of slow walking around the loop paid off when I spotted the device in the weeds. See the yellow nicks in the tree from my handlebars?
Sweat and blood are familiar aspects of mountain biking to me, the off-season equivalents of ice beards and chapped lips. The oddest part of the ride had come earlier, as I rode into the heart of the trails. Just after one tough switchback, I had to stop sharply because a massive old tree had fallen across the trail.
I broke off enough smaller branches to allow riders to pass along the trail, but cutting the main trunk back will require a chainsaw. A little human intervention will hasten the tree’s return to the dirt it shadowed for decades.
Riding, I’d never
Use a four-letter word to
Describe a driver.
Not when longer words
Are much better to mutter.
Fun with deafness today:
At the gym I heard someone
Yell “Jane! Jane! Jane! Jane!”
Actually, batting practice:
Baseballs struck by metal bats.
(Warning: contains confession of possible craziness.)
In a short essay on the Adventure Journal website, Erin Windauer describes the occasional but not rare sense of athletes, adventurers, and others that they are in the presence of someone or something which is benevolent or reassuring but which isn’t actually *there*.
Ernest Shackleton’s epic tale of survival after the sinking of his ship the Endurance in Antarctic waters is well known, but less known is what he and two of his companions experienced after they made their way by open boat, above, to South Georgia Island and trekked across to a whaling station to find salvation. Each of the three felt the presence of someone with them: “During that long and racking march of thirty-six hours over the unnamed mountains and glaciers of South Georgia,” wrote Shackleton in his memoir, “it seemed to me often that we were four, not three.”
Though I don’t quite see the link between this sensation and the lab experiments summarized in Windauer’s piece, I can’t stop thinking about the phenomenon, which is one I’ve experienced in some of my winter races.
I didn’t even know that my feeling of being… joined? guided? accompanied? was a thing; I just chalked it up to being hungry, cold, and exhausted. And yes, all those stressors might have contributed to my sense that *something* was with me while I rode and walked off Two Top on January 8, thirty-six hours into the Fat Pursuit.
But still: to have that experience in common with Shackleton is strangely satisfying.