High temps: -5 to 3
Low temps: -27 to -10
Mileage: ~32This was supposed to be my official full "recovery" date from knee surgery (though I have heard it can take up to a year) and I was all excited to do something epic for it. But epic planning doesn't always result in an epic journey. I'll tell this story in two parts as I'm pretty bummed about the second part, but had a great first part.
Saturday night, friends of mine had rented Lee's cabin for one of their birthdays, but they both ended up with a really nasty cold and couldn't go, but offered the cabin to me since I was going with them anyway. I was able to round up one loose screw to go last minute, so Helena and I biked the very short, fast 7 miles to the cabin on Saturday afternoon. I had this epic thing planned out for today (Sunday) and back Monday so wanted to lay low on Saturday. The new snow made a funny moment for me on the way though as I didn't deflate my tires at all to made a wider footprint in the new snow, and decided to still bomb down the hill despite not doing that, and ended up flying off of my bike into a pile of soft snow. Really, it was time I crashed on these trails because I haven't thus far. Helena was a little ways behind me (because her bob-trailer was acting like a rudder), so she missed the entire scene and I totally tried to play it off like nothing happened (as usual) until I realized my chain had fallen off the cassette and had to tell her the story of why that happened as she rounded the corner. :) Classic moment. Anyway, we got to the cabin and bummed around for the rest of the day.. (ok, I took a quick snoozer while she rode down the wickersham wall... ambitious!) Oh, and Helena's musher friend, Megan, took us out on her dogteam! That was a hilight of the day! It was a nice relaxed cabin trip, otherwise. Here are some photos of Helena trying out mushing with Megan on the sled. Her doggies were pretty tired by the time we saw her coming out of the trail so they are looking a little sluggish in these pics/video.Megan let me try it out too after going on a sled ride! Here's a photo Helena took. I'll have to snatch the others off of her. :) Watch my video below for a live view from the sled!!
But, as soon as we split off (Helena had a hockey game to get to), and I descended down the trail, the temperature quickly plummeted, then I realized my water tube had fallen out of my shirt and exposed to very cold air and froze upon contact. I originally wrote a huge story, but I'm going to cut it down because it's not really necessary for you to read about the millions of thoughts that went through my brain in these few hours.Whoa, and here is a book of a story anyway despite cutting things out. You can skip to the end if you want, but this post is barely complete without this part...
When we headed out to Lee's, I was feeling tired before we even started. I thought maybe a low key night could shake my sluggishness away, but it didn't. I thought it might disappear after a few miles into the trail, it didn't. Ice had completely taken over my eyelids, and the sunlight peeping through the clouds was just not doing anything yet. I figured if I kept going, eventually that sun would do something. So I kept going. I had to stop in the trail shelter to switch out socks (mind you, only 6 miles from the start of my ride), but continued on. All of this stopping and fixing frozen feet and hands and noses was costing me a lot of precious daylight time and time that my stomach was needing food and wanting water. The trail was flat and easy, but cold. And despite the flatness I was having a hard time in moving my legs with much force. Was I getting sick having been around all of these sick people in the last week? Is my immune system trying to tell me something? The part that sucked about this ride was that here I am, feeling cruddy, with no easy access water, no one's cabin to crash at and warm up at that I am aware of until my destination at Wolf Run, which also meant my water couldn't be unfrozen until then. It would be one thing if I knew the trail and wasn't afraid of it, too. At one point in this ordeal, which I wasn't dwelling on in my mind too much, something made me stop. I just stopped there in the trail, and contemplated going home. Who was this girl who was so excited to see new trail but just stopped in her tracks and wanted to turn her bike around? Why wasn't she having fun anymore? Was it the increasingly hard time in eating frozen cakes and chocolate and fruit snacks and cheese? Was it the frozen water line? Was it the cold? I can't tell you, really. But my gut, for whatever it is worth, told me to turn back. I trust my gut a lot. It's helped me not regret anything big thus far. I stood there, challenging my gut, arguing that it's not that far, I did this last week, no problem. Then it came back asking me what I was trying to prove to myself.. last week I had a full unfrozen water line, and a body fresh with energy. Today that was not the case. I felt like crap, was not having fun, ended up getting all upset with myself because of these conflicting thoughts, and was struggling on sections of trail I had seen before. So, I turned back. A few miles down the trail, as I was trying to fight back tears (what the heck was THAT?! again, something else that has never happened. they would only make my situation worse by freezing over on my eyelashes), I came across my friend Amy and her husband Eric who were at Eleazar's for their anniversary as they were leaving on their snowmachines for a daytrip. They stopped to see how things were going, and I had to be honest in saying that I had turned back and having a crappy time. Which is when Amy told me it was 20 below out!! I didn't realize it was THAT cold. That's 55 degrees colder than last weekend's awesome ride. I should be able to handle that though, it's not abnormal to get those temps this time of year. It's just that this winter has been so terribly mild and dry that I haven't learned how to handle it on long rides. Anyway, the two of them encouraged me to ride up to their cabin and warm up, so I did, even though it is out of the way a bit. I made what would be lunch there too, and changed my foot system to use my down booties underneath my overboots, which kept me warm the rest of the way, but didn't provide much foot support. It was already pushing on 12:30pm.
Long story short, I struggled the entire way back to the car, until the last 2 miles, which are downhill - and it had warmed up and turned clear, go figure. In fact, I started having fun on those last couple of miles, bombing down the hill and turning the trail into a dual slalom course, purposely trying to get air on the snow bumps. With a fully loaded bike that was fun!!
So, an uphill battle it was. A positive moment at the end was that I met a really cool Iditarod musher in the parking lot. But overall, I am really disappointed in the day. Sorry to have a downer of a story. Try again next time?