I was hoping to ride the Shortie Loopy Loop with the group on September 4th, but life was so busy at that moment that I sadly sat it out. Luckily a little window of time opened up while grandma was still around and I hastily threw myself together. I got all the food, bags, and gear sorted and loaded by 4:20:AM on Monday the 20th and I headed out onto Loopy.
It was magical. The mountains, though familiar, are still amazingly beautiful and compelling. The leaves were about peak gold on the trees, while also covering the ground and dancing through the air. The moon was a bright, constant companion out there, hanging huge in the dark sky, sending white light streaking across streams and ponds. The moon had a couple of bright planets and all the stars to keep it company, except that one that came streaking down as I climbed Rocky Brook Road. The trails and roads were quiet and at times empty of other users. The weather was gorgeous, warm sunny days, hardly any smoke, no rain or snow, but it was damn cold at night. Other than being cold and the night long, it was a wonderful time to be out there.
It was also torture. The trails were rough, so much dirt has been shaken loose from the rocks by a summer of use and abuse, leaving not much more than rocks in so many places. My body was not the least bit ready for this beat down and my legs and hands were protesting from the get go and the route didn’t let up. At 160 miles I almost took the highway home, Gold Creek Trail crushed my hands, feet and knees, I couldn’t imagine what Fossil was gonna feel like. The night was looong! So much darkness, and with no bivy gear that meant a long night of riding and pushing and also falling asleep on the bike riding and pushing. I ended up taking about four 10 minute naps in attempt to keep my eyes open and rubber on the trail. The whole night was laborious, it took so long to cover any miles as I was riding sloppy and falling asleep, also my water bottles froze solid so there was no water, that meant not much food. Oh and it hurt! I swear every step and every pedal stroke hurt deep in my legs, knees, hands, and forearms. Still I kept drudging along, still I was incredibly happy.
I finished the Shortie Loopy Loop just before 8:PM Tuesday the 21st. 39.5 hours after I left. 193 miles, 27,000′. It was a battle to keep going as it hurt so much and I was worried about how late I was running.This Loop is HARD! No doubt, some of the hardest riding I have done, and yet so compelling. I am already wondering when I can get back out there for more. These experiences are so powerful for me. I go from hating life and wanting to get as far away from other humans as I can, to longing to get back to my family and thinking of ways to help others. There is something incredibly powerful about being out there alone. Letting my brain focus on that task, makes for a happy brain. All the garbage and debris that has built up over time, gets sifted, sorted, or tossed. So Good for me and my head, just wish it didn’t have to hurt so damn much, my hands are crushed, I am unable to grip with my right hand, my legs are so sore and grumpy.
I love being out there in the mountains traveling under my own power. I love pushing myself to see how far, how fast, how long I can go. Yet, throwing myself at these rides without any real training is really kicking my ass, the impact on my body is not great. I can’t seem to stop myself, I feel as though I just have to get this stuff every chance I get, cause I do love it so much. I have to admit that while I am out there I have this conundrum of thoughts. I wonder if I shouldn’t hang up this obsession and be there 100% for my family. There just isn’t much time to spend on training and prepping and that makes all these rides much harder and more painful. Yet once home, I can hardly wait to get back out there, to feel it all again as it makes me feel so alive, so purposeful. I am wavering on this seesaw and it will be interesting to see how it goes.