Monday, August 8, 2011

Solo Saturday

I guess I'm a pretty social animal, especially when it comes to riding bikes. But Saturday, it was solo or nothing so off I went, all by my lonesome. I brought a cue-sheet from "ride with GPS.com" that promised a paved 50 mile loop with 5000 feet of climbing starting at Panther Creek campground and ending at the Walking Man Brew Pub in Stevenson.
I rode out of camp at 10:30, making my way down to Carson and SR-14 along the Columbia Gorge. It was beautiful and made me reminiscent for the gorge tour we rode in May. Then, up (UP!) Cook-Underwood Road. A few country road turns until reaching National Forest Route 6600 - a gorgeous, smooth, one-lane road devoid of cars and lined with trees. Simply stunning.
I'll admit I do a ton of thinking on the bike. Put me out in the middle of the woods all alone for a day and that increases exponentially. This "watershed" sign (below) reminded me of a not-too-distant time in my life when everything changed overnight. I've decided to stop trying to make sense of it and choose to accept and recover instead. Huge epiphany: the details of what happened don't matter; I can stop dwelling on them. What matters is what I've learned: being "over-responsible" will only lead to intense rebellion, which is already at the heart of my nature. Instead of rebelling against people or relationships, I will choose to rebel against unhealthy things. Healthy fun will be my motivator and this will most likely manifest itself by spending as much time as possible on the bike.
So, here I am in the forest feeling pretty darned healthy and happy and smart and even courageous. When the pavement ended and turned to gravel, I thought "I'm tough. I can handle unexpected obstacles. I dare adventure to come get me. YEAH!!!". A couple of miles later, I was picking myself up from a spill. Bloody and out of water, I put some chamois butter on my road rash to prevent the sting and turned around. In case that wasn't humbling enough, the steep 25 mile descent into dangerously gusty wind had me coaching myself out of panic. "I'm small! I'm strong!" It's a bit of a paradox how humbling experiences can create a grain of strength that builds and builds until it's a huge shield.

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