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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

what next?

Another Le Tour de France has come and gone and it was great. I definitely OT’d (over Toured). By the end I was so stoked and exhausted at the same time I didn’t know what was up – total glue stick. I’m catching up on my sleep after three weeks of early mornings getting up to watch the live coverage.

Sunday afternoon I was sitting at the pub with the crew from our newly formed “Brunch Ride” and one of them asked, “what next?” He was asking about where we should ride next weekend but I took it as something deeper. That moment felt like a transition zone of sorts.

After our morning ride and brunch we’d dropped by the Angeles Crest 100 finish. We saw some of the runners finishing they’re trek through the mountains from Wrightwood. It was sort of a strange scene. Very calm and subdued and just a few dozen people hanging around. Even the clapping for the finishers was lackluster. I appreciate the efforts those runners had put in, not just during that race but everything leading up to it, too – all the years. But I have to say it did have a little bit of a depressing feel.

One of the local runners had finished about 6 hours earlier, before we got there. I assume he’d crashed out on the lawn in the park there to catch some fast rest. Maybe he had just woken up, I don’t know but I found it a little strange that he was still there. He lives just a few miles away and if it were me I think I’d want to go home to start the recovery. I understand the desire to commune with your fellow freaks but it just sort of stood out from my perspective as a little off because there really wasn’t much community there to connect with.

Maybe this had something to do with their new finish location in Loma Alta Park instead of down in the Arroyo. It felt very much removed from the mountains. The last mile or so of the race was on the road/sidewalk and it just looked crushing for the runners.

The next day I woke up with no idea what to do. No tour to watch. Should I run, should I ride, should I do both, should I rest, should I just go to the grocery store? Finally, after much confusion, I figured a restful ride around before getting to the store seemed appropriate.

So I got on the Mule and rode by the Rose Bowl and then up into La Canada and by then I was feeling pretty well warmed up and in the groove and started thinking about the section of the ride that we’d bypassed on the Brunch Ride the day before. Angeles Crest Highway was calling me. So I started up that mountain highway. I knew I wouldn’t get far as I was on my heaviest bike with no food and it was something like 87 degrees. I got about halfway to Mount Wilson and struggled to make the right decision to turn around, but did make the right decision to turn around and finish up the four-hour grocery ride.

That road is in perfect condition right now. It’s been closed for about a year or two because of fire and landslides but they’ve just got it all rebuilt and it’s like perfect black with bright white sidelines. A mountain dream road. Not to mention the mountains themselves. Really beautiful up there. Can’t wait to go back up prepared to go further.

So I guess that’s one thing that’s next. But really I’m wondering like when does this stop, where is the end game, what am I (and so many others) shooting for. I’m sort of on the verge, nibbling on this running and riding thing and I’ve felt for a long time that I was on the sane/balanced side of it. So I could continue along like this and that would be fine or I could slow down or I could speed up.

I think I’d like to go see what’s around that next bend, the next plateau. I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe because the foundation has been built and I probably can.

But then I come across a quote in my running calendar that says, “Do not believe that it is very much of an advance to do the unnecessary three times as fast,” Peter Drucker. How that ended up as a motivational quote in a running calendar I’ll never know but I do think there’s a very important point/lesson there. And maybe it points to balance – “clean balance” could be a good mantra. You can run a million miles and where will it get you? You’ll have run a long way. And that’s great but don’t try to make it more than it is. If that’s your thing, great. Try not to let it take over your life, though. Because it’s also okay if you don’t run/ride a million miles. And anyway the important thing isn’t the miles but the experience. The “mountains and rivers without end…”

So… what next?

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