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Saturday, March 17, 2012

currently reading

Siberia Bound: Chasing the American Dream on Russia’s Wild Frontier
by Alexander Blakely, 2002

Friday, March 16, 2012

cloud mountain run

It’s cloudy and dark and forecast to rain through the weekend. I wanted to get up into the mountains before the storm arrived so that I could hole up back at home for the rest of the weekend, cooking pancakes and doing laundry.

It wasn’t easy getting out the door. I never know what to wear anymore. I think I’m developing some kind of phobia – fear of wearing the wrong outfit and/or having to tie a sweater around my waist.

Eventually I got out and rode Mindful Mule up the road and locked up in the center of the neighboring foothill town. Various layers of synthetic and wool kept me comfortable on the ride. I kept a lot of it on for the run up the mountain, too.

I tried to run as far as I could up the trail before being forced to walk. I guess I’ve fallen into a bit of a rut – walking certain sections every time – and I wanted to see if I could break away from my habits. It worked out well. I ran further than I ever have. I thought for a moment I might even make it the whole way – hope to, someday. But that route is crushing – the mountain always wins.

Little victories can be had, though. And today, the victory the mountain provided for me, enhanced by my somewhat delirious state of stubborn exertion, was to look out across the deep, thickly clouded valley to see nothing but grey surrounding an ancient giant, a silhouetted evergreen tree, just floating there, soaking in the mist.

I felt like a little Han Shan of my mountains, removed from time and geography, soaking, too, in that eternal moment…

Monday, March 12, 2012

currently reading

The Rum Diary
by Hunter S. Thompson, 1998

Sunday, March 11, 2012

ssssspring dream sssssoon

I had a dream last night about riding the “Seventies Schwinn Super Sport Singlespeed.” I haven’t ridden it in a long time but I’ve been eyeing it for a couple months now, tempted. It’s just that the SSSSS is primarily a for-show/pub bike. And it doesn’t have lights or a rack. These things can fairly easily be transferred from other bikes but it’s usually just enough of an effort that I end up riding the Mule most of the time – especially through the winter months when it might still be hot during the day but most likely cold at night so you sorta want to prepare for anything.

Well it must be spring’s eve because I’m thinking more and more about riding the SSSSS. And I’ve noticed that I don’t seem to be bothered anymore when my hands get a little cold on the bike, knowing that they won’t be cold for too much longer, sensing this last opportunity to take advantage of the cooler weather – one last dip before the big heat.

In the dream the SSSSS was actually a singlespeed, not fixed gear as it is in reality – and it had no brakes, not two as it does in reality. It felt nice to be freewheeling around through the empty residential streets, having no need to brake. It got a little dicey when I came across some other bikers and pedestrians (no cars in my dreams!) – that’s when I started trying to back-pressure the pedals only to be reminded that they weren’t fixed. It all worked out okay, no crashes, but I had to drag my feet to stop, which, in the non-dream world, is pretty ridiculous.

Ssssso my dreams sssssay that sssssoon it will be ssssspring and we will ssssspin around on the SSSSS. It looks a little gloomy out there today, but maybe I’ll try to merge dreams and reality anyway to give spring a rolling start. I should at least pump the tires.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

4/4 time

Counting 4/4 time is a great little metronomic meditation I’ve encountered on various hill trainings. Four steps on the inhale, four steps on the exhale. It keeps you just right at that perfect level of effort for training, solid yet sustainable. I first noticed it a few years ago up above El Prieto Trail and was reminded of it yesterday in the residential hills around my house. Going up the mountain, breathing becomes, understandably, pronounced. As the ascent steepens and fitness lags this effect compounds. But with drive to get to the top, to get better ready for Wilson, we push ourselves and we begin to sink deeper into this rhythmic aerobic cycle. Intentionally ignoring the deficit and suffering in the rest of the body, we begin to realize, to become aware of a collaboration between footfall and heartbeat and deep breathing, even resting a bit by its song.