Friday, October 28, 2011

Backpacking Adventure with Husband

We barely packed our backpacks and I became concerned about the outcome of this weekend trip. I have lived in the same house with my guy for 25 years and we have managed to co-exist in relative bliss. Sharing a small backpacking tent could prove to be too much.

While this will be my guy's and my first time backpacking trip together, I have been backpacking numerous times.  My first adventure was when I was 13 and went with my older cousin and her 3 guy friends, I think they were all about 17, up to the High Sierras. We drove up in my cousin's VW bus. I didn't tell my parents beforehand and we were gone for 4 days. In all fairness, I did try to call them from the little grocery store where we bought our supplies before hitting the trail.

I hiked in tennis shoes with a borrowed pack and sleeping bag. We lived on canned beans and warm beer and ??? Well it was the 70's. I don't even remember drinking any water. Gatorade and Accelerade weren't invented yet.

This time it is different - my guy and I have special platypus containers for expensive red wine we bought while cycling in Sonoma for our 25th Anniversary. Thinking a drought might occur while we are out in the wilderness, my guy not only has filled his regular platy bladder with water, but also an extra bladder, and at last count there were 6 water bottles shoved in various nooks and crannies in his pack.  My mistake was to laugh and remind him that we have a water purifier and there are streams along the way. Not a good way to start.

As I walked away from his mumbling, I thought about my second big backpacking adventure. It was with my BFF. She decided we needed to hike up Mt. Whitney to celebrate her 50th Birthday. All my efforts to talk her into jetting to NY to catch a Broadway show and do a little shopping were pushed aside.  Instead I laid down a ginormous amount of cash that could have gotten me all the way to Paris, just to outfit myself for our 7-day, 60-mile drudge up the biggest rock in the contiguous states. In preparation for that walk of pain, I backpacked with my BFF up San Gorgonio and only survived the cold by sticking my frozen hands in too hot water and then up San Jacinto. We didn't freeze anything on that hike and celebrated by drinking in the bar at the lodge before taking the tram down.

During our Mt. Whitney hike, we had fabulous ladies who cooked our breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Yes, we helped haul the food and utensils, but we didn't have to cook the stuff. We just relaxed and ate. We just sat in our tent when it rained, hailed and thundered, while those wonderful women stood out in the storm and made our gourmet dinner of crimini mushrooms with noodles, red and green peppers, shredded carrots and bok choy in a tangy sauce and then delivered it to our zippered tent. We were warm and toasty inside and loved being waited on. It wasn't Paris, or New York, but it was fun and adventurous.

It's going to be different this weekend. My guy and I bought beef jerky and bars and GU and almonds and crackers and bags of food.  That's right - BAGS.  You open the bag and pour in hot boiling water and then close the bag and wait and then eat it.  We are having BAGS of food for dinner Saturday night (Teriyaki Chicken and Rice and Pasta Primavera with Berries Cobbler for dessert) and for breakfast Sunday morning (Scrambled Eggs with diced ham and bell pepper). Don't tell, but I packed an oatmeal packet just in case the BAG stuff taste like s&(t.

Trying to get in a fun, make-it-feel-like-a-field-trip mood, I made my guy go to the local grinder place and pick up grinders to take for our lunch for Saturday. Mine is NOT packed in a BAG. Then we are having tuna salad with crackers for lunch on Sunday.  When I bought the kits it seemed like a good idea.  The kit had tuna, mayo and relish and yucky crackers. I tossed the crackers, along with all the plastic packaging, and packed my good crackers. Right now tuna does not sound like a very good choice. Good thing I also packed some Odwalla bars (thank you Odwalla sponsor of mine) because I may have to live on bars for part of our journey.

I have been packed for hours. My guy is just about done.  He keeps coming up to me and asking me questions about how to pack. I try to give him advice, but he doesn't really want it. 

I got the feeling this trip may be doomed when he asked me if he should bring (a) the Crocodile Dundee knife? blade? machete? whatever that big sharp thing is called or (b) the Paul Bunyan ax.

"Oh my God," came out of my mouth, "That is so stupid. You don't need either one of those? Did you pack your headlight? That's what you need. We can't even have a fire. Are you planning to amputate someone's limb while you are up there? You didn't pack a gun did you?"

He just walked away. Two hours later he announced he was done packing.

I couldn't help myself. I asked him if he packed the ax or the machete. He asked why. I said people who read my blog were going to vote on whether or not I will survive this FUN weekend backpacking trip with him. 

He glared at me and said, "Both."

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Riverside Bike Club's Annual Smog to Surf Bike Ride

I almost quit today. Yep, I almost threw in the towel and turned around and went home.  I was very close to quitting. The Riverside Bicycle Club's Annual members only Smog to Surf Bike Ride was today and I signed up with Robert to ride the metric century, which should have been no big deal. I mean, after all, I have written two century rides and lots of upper mile rides.  But this ride didn't have Robert - he couldn't make it. And this one had hills. Again, that shouldn't make a difference as I have been really riding the hills - Mt. Rubidoux, those steep streets off of Hawarden, GMR.  I am not fast, but I have endurance.

That is why I was thrown for such a loop this morning when we started out.  Within 2 miles I was dropped. Not an inch by inch drop.  This was a big drop off a cliff.  Everyone just zoomed by me.  And I was huffing and pushing and pulling and sweating and I was dropped.  I pulled over and called the president of the bike club, and told her I was coming back because something was definitely wrong with my bike. Just then a couple of late starters came up and one of them checked out my bike and pronounced it "okay," then went on to reassure me that the hill we were going up was steep and it was hard. 

OKAY, then. I hopped back on my bike and started riding with the little group.  And in my mind I started coming up with reasons why, if my bike was "okay" I would be struggling so much. Did I not recover enough this week? Was I getting sick? Did I have too much lactate acid build-up in my legs.  Should I go to the hospital and get a blood test? Maybe I am anemic and that's why pedaling up these hills is so difficult?  Can you become anemic in one week? Because one week ago I was fine pedaling up hills. 

Half way up this REALLY big hill I pulled over and someone else checked my bike.  Please God, I was praying in my head, let them fix my bike so I can ride up this hill and enjoy this ride.  The guy checked it out and pronounced my bike "okay." What? Oh, crap! That means the problem IS me. I got back on my bike and just sucked it up and rode on.  It was torturous.  It was torture to my legs and to my ego.  My legs were screaming and so was my ego, especially when a newbie biker rode right by me. UUgghhhh! The only thing that saved my ego was that I was riding ahead of the first guy that deemed my bike in working order.

I suffered to stay up with the group!  Even on the downhills I suffered.  While others coasted, I had to pedal to stay up. SUFFER!

When the group made a stop at a little gas station/convenience store I was surprised to see my Coach, Tony Troccoli and fellow Triathlon Connection friend Sinta Tan ride up.  They were riding RBC's Century ride and just got a little off track. He asked how things were going and I told him I was having a hard time riding.  Today riding was HARD!  He took a look at my bike and prounounced it "NOT okay!" He said I was riding the brake and Sinta made an adjustment and then it was "okay!"

The rest of the ride was a breeze!

I am so glad I didn't give up.  I may have been one of the last riders up the hill, but I bet I got the best workout because I was riding with my back brake on.  And sometimes having our brakes on makes us better. Better athletes. Better spouses. Better parents. Better people.

Tomorrow I am going start using my brakes more.