Sunday, July 6, 2014

I (Still) Want To Ride Bikes With You

At long last, I seem to be breaking through the fatigue that has plagued me for the last couple of months. Frank and I got back into the gym a couple of times this week, and while I'm feeling unsurprisingly sore, I'm not feeling like my basic life force has been sucked away. I feel like I'm actually going to get stronger from it once I recover. We also had a great three day weekend where we explored some new mountain bike trails on Friday, hiked Mt. Nittany on Saturday, and did a nice couple of hours of mixed road, (weedy) singletrack, and gravel today. After my first solid training week since the week I arrived in State College and didn't have to work yet, I'm still tired and wincing from the soreness every time I get up, but I'm not overwhelmed with fatigue. Hopefully I've finally clipped in on the path back to fitness this time.

I had no idea what was in store when Frank said, "Let's go hike Mt. Nittany. It wasn't exactly the recovery day I had in mind, but it was a lot of fun.

Our Friday adventure was to check out the Rattling Creek IMBA Epic. It's about two hours away, but it looked really fun, and I'm enjoying the chance to check out some new trails instead of concentrated on Rothrock for a while.

The trails delivered on the "rocky flow" that was promised. They definitely still had plenty of rocks and a general Pennsylvania backcountry feel, but with a more cruisable flow to them. The climbing was gentle and the descending meandered around more for maximum enjoyment, rather straight downhill bombing. We only had two complaints, the first of which being that some sections were so ridiculously overgrown that it felt like bushwhacking rather than mountain biking. The other was that the trails were very poorly marked.

Looking derpy but staying upright on a rock garden.

Complaint Number Two turned out to be the theme of the day, as we started off spending a lot of time driving around gravel roads after driving right past the parking lot, thanks to trying to follow Google maps to the mapping point provided on the MTB Project app. This was followed by going a down a big paved descent first thing (and then having to climb back up), since the unmarked first trail was simply described as "across the road" from the parking lot, but they didn't say in which direction. And so it went, trying to find our way around the prescribed epic course, and it ended with us getting about 19 miles (the epic course was 22) but a few of those being riding around aimlessly on the road.We both got different amounts of frustrated at different times. Frank's mostly had to do with the suckiness of the map; mine mostly had to do with when I had to do unnecessary climbing as a result of a navigational mistake.

Bridging out of the brush

During all of the wandering, I thought of last summer when a package arrived in the mail from Frank. The great collector of tiny hats had sent me one of my own, with the words "Get Lost" under the brim. He included a note saying that he saw it and thought of my experience at the Gravel Metric, and that he had also purchased one for himself. The rest of the note was incredibly sweet and talked about how he looked forward to the adventures that we would have together. I reread it many times over the next few months whenever I started missing him too badly.

So I found it kind of funny as we were in the midst of one of those adventures actually happening that it was less romantic than we had imagined it to be. I've been stressed lately about the terrible state of my fitness and the continuing roadblocks that stand in my way, but then I remembered the the kind of relationship that I was looking for when I met Frank. It was one year ago this weekend that we took our first rides together, and after which I wrote "I Just Want to Ride Bikes with You".

As much as I miss being fast(ish) and competing in races, I remembered that right now I'm living out the days that I was missing for all those years when I was completely focused on (unsuccessfully) trying to be fast. Now I've tasted success in both areas and sometimes get frustrated that I have thus far been unable to have both at once. This weekend reminded me that stressing about my lack of fitness won't help, and that I just need to keep focusing on doing the best I can and appreciating what I already have.

Even when I get lost and it feels like I'm no closer to my goals, I still want to ride bikes with [Frank].

Whatever Instagram filter I used makes me look like an Oompa Loompa, but you get the idea.

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