Sunday, January 6, 2013

Consider Adventure

An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.
G.K. Chesterton

 While climbing onto my bike for a trainer workout this morning, I managed to trip over the treadmill (which is right next to the bike) and tumble onto my front wheel, twisting my foot and scraping my hand. Ironman that I am, I did the workout anyway, letting my cycling glove keep the blood from dripping onto the frame of my R5. My thumb and forefinger now have the marks of authentic road rash. Thus my first cycling injury of 2013 was acquired and dealt with. May it be my worst crash of the year.
I’m hoping for more meaningful and adventurous rides ahead and I am anxious to get underway. All autumn—as usual—I have felt like Ulysses, stuck in port, yearning to head out on another adventure.

How dull it is to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life.

Badwater: my soul is somewhere out there
I’m off to Death Valley National Park in about seven weeks for a few wonderful days of cycling; toiling up to Artists’ Palette at five kilometres per hour, and then holding on for dear life on the steep, twisting descent; battling gale-force headwinds winds on the road to Badwater; grinding the endless climb up to Hell’s Gate. It all just seems too good to be true.

I once heard an endurance runner say that God made the desert so that a man could find his soul. If I do have a soul, I'm sure it is somewhere out there in the shifting sands and blazing rock of Death Valley.
With the departure of Ironman Canada from Penticton, my daughter and I have entered Ironman Mont Tremblant, which takes place in the beautiful Laurentian Mountains of Quebec in August. In our family Ironman history, it will be her fourth and my eighth. Ironman doesn't get any easier over time, but over time you become accepting of how difficult it is.

The terrain at Tremblant is reminiscent of Lake Placid, with lots of climbing and descending. We went there to check out the venue last fall and it was reassuring to see that (unlike Lake Placid) the roads on the bike course are all newly paved and smooth. In between Death Valley and Mont Tremblant I am looking for something else to try. Sadly I can't get the resources together this year for another run at the Race Across The West, so that idea will have to remain dormant for now. But like the Norwegian Blue parrot, this partcular dream is not dead, just sleeping.

If I can swing it, I'd like to head for the Florida 70.3 to check out their new course, now blessedly removed from Disney World. I always found it a bit off-putting to be out for a training run before race day and having to dodge corpulent clumps of vacationing families in mouse ears, who from their appearance and waddling gait did not have anything close to fitness on their minds.
There are other possibilities for this year: many members of my family gather each May to run the Ottawa Marathon, far and away the best marathon I know. Or, there is a little biking event in Michigan in which cyclists apparently see how far they can ride over a nonstop 24-hour period. It looks like you just ride around and around a 10k loop all day and night until the end, or until you fall off your saddle. Not exactly a scenic randonnee, but just offbeat enough to pique my interest. I wonder if you're allowed to tie a pillow to your aerobars.

One way or the other, I will find ways to do what I love to do, as I have always done. Not to chase some uncatchable idea of slimness or beauty; not to try to rewrite a youth that is already in the books; not to pound the rest of the guys in my age group into the dust. Not even to boldly go where no one has gone before.

But as always, just to see what is possible.