First off, I’d like to acknowledge the hard work my computer has done and the outstanding performance it’s had over the last five years. Yeah that’s right, this here laptop has been plugging away since before I even started this blog. The keyboard is so nasty now that it requires a bi-monthly cleaning by a colony of ants that lives in the walls of my room. They come in at night and exit in the morning when I turn the computer on, seeping out of the keyboard like black sand, if sand could walk. Okay I guess not like sand at all, more like small insects that resemble sand. Like ants. Anyways, they need to come back soon because there’s jam all over the letter C and buggers covering the space bar. I don’t even want to say what’s covering the number 7 and letters M, U and C.
While inanimate objects like my computer wear out over time, life will always find a way. Shit, I’ve been watching too many movies, sorry for the Jurassic Park reference. What I mean to say is that I’m always amazed at the willingness of the human body to respond and adapt to hard work and continue to repair and make itself better. If you bash your head against a wall long enough, you’ll get a callous. And brain damage, but that’s beside the point.
After a bitter cold winter of suffering through hard rides, the constant uncertainty of whether I’ll make enough money to survive out here or if I’ll have to retreat home, a terrible start to the season with sickness and bad luck, I’ve come back to Boulder even stronger than I was a few weeks ago. On Tuesday I hit some VO2 intervals with power numbers that were on the verge of being what I can do at sea level, which is pretty damn good for me. Coming after all the travel I’ve done recently and all the stress I’ve put myself through with my own lofty standards, it’s hard for me to understand how this is possible. How can our cells keep on going like this? Replenishing themselves and growing stronger all the time? Don’t they get tired? Don’t they question when this madness will end? Of course we eventually start breaking down over the years, but even when we’re 70 our cell growth continues. It’s mind baffling to me. Nothing else repairs itself like this. Glaciers melt, mountains crumble, and stars eventually go dim. A cyclist’s legs grow more veiny. (Note: I do realize that glaciers, mountains, and stars all grow at some point, but if you take a hammer to a rock it will never glue itself back together by itself).
Yesterday I rode for five hours, exploring a section of road that I’d never been on. I rode up to Estes Park, an amazing town up in the mountains that’s populated by pine trees, ravens, and Subways and surrounded by gray cliffs, white peaks, and quiet, switch-back roads. Sometimes in order to enjoy the wilderness you’ve got to build a parking lot. It began lightly snowing after I refilled my bottles and began the climb out of town, which itself sits at 7,500 ft. I got up to around 9,000 ft before the road headed back down to earth and I zipped my jacket up for a cool one-hour-long descent. The sweat in my gloves and arm warmers that had been locked in from my jacket became ice cold, but my core stayed warm from riding hard. I passed a meadow where I’d seen three gigantic moose a few months ago. I passed a semi truck, my speed rising to 51 mph, not quite fast enough to blog about, but whatever. I passed a line of cars. The cars passed me back when the road leveled out. It’s one of those awkward descents that requires pedaling. It’s not quite steep enough to coast and definitely not mellow enough to pick a nice big gear to ease mash. It was one of those descents that you ride in your 11 and spin at an annoying 110-120 rpm, tuck and coast for a few seconds, then start spinning again, and I hate spinning that fast. My legs began feeling the effort from the previous three and a half hours of riding, and I was looking forward to getting to a flat road again.
When I got home I had roughly 15 minutes to eat, shower, put on clothes, eat, stare into the fridge for a few minutes wishing I had more food to eat, and get to work without being more than five minutes late. I took 25 minutes. The next six hours were spent standing up, speed walking to and fro in the restaurant, taking orders, bringing food, seating people, cleaning the tables, de-icing people’s water glasses that I’d just brought them–for some reason they can’t just drink water with ice in it (joke’s on them, I just take their water back to the kitchen area and let the ice melt for 10 minutes, then bring them the same glass of water). When it was obvious that I was tired Abesha, the other waiter, told me to take it easy and slow down. I told her that wasn’t possible. If I’m gonna be here, I’m gonna do it fast and hard.
I began fading at around 8 o’clock. It wasn’t busy enough to keep me energized and it wasn’t slow enough for me to sit down at the bar and rest. It was sort of like that long descent on the mountain earlier on my ride. By 10 o’clock my eyes were fuzzy and stinging red, then the last customers finally left. After cleaning up and shutting the place down I got out of there at 10:30 and rode home with $32 in tips in my pocket. That should be enough to feed me for…1 day. I came home, tired but not exhausted–because only weak people get exhausted–and I stayed up way too late watching Benjamin Button on TV while I ate bits and pieces of my roommates’ food. A little ham and cheese here, a little cereal there, nothing to be missed. Only problem is that my roommates are gone for days at a time or don’t eat some of each item of their food every day like I do, so what seems like unnoticeable amounts to me becomes an entire bag to them. I kept telling myself I should just go to sleep, but my hunger and laziness to go downstairs and pump up my air mattress kept me awake. It’s hard for me to go right to sleep after a long day like that. I don’t know why. It could be that despite my mind being mush, it’s still ticking loudly. Or maybe it’s from all the coffee.
Right now I’m harnessing the energy to go ride my bike for an hour or two and get the junk out of my legs for the next two-day block. I’m thinking positive thoughts for my nervous system, glycogen stores, adrenal glands, and muscle fibers, thinking about how they’re repairing themselves and super compensating with just that tiny extra 0.001%. It adds up over time. Next up is Joe Martin and Tour of the Gila, both of which I leave for on Tuesday. The hard part is over, now all I’ve gotta do is ride the last 50 meters in first position.