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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Uphill is Not Easy

Before Eddie's birthday, Edward and Jennifer biked from Dublin to Gualala. Seriously.  Well, they almost did. Edward got a flat about 20 miles north east of Gualala, on a remote stretch of Fish Rock Road.  Okay...actually that whole road is remote.  They'd forgotten their pump so he couldn't just do a quick repair.  Luckily they had data and cell service to gchat/text/call us to pick them up.  Edward ended up staying for the whole next week with me, which was a nice change of pace for me. 

One day that week I called my dad on speaker phone so we could get an update on my mom while I was busy cutting peaches to load into the dehydrator. My dad laid out the awful truth: Mommy was dying and it was probably a matter of a few weeks at best.  He explained the reasons and what the doctors had said.  Edward and I were sort of stunned. We'd all been anticipating a little since her diagnosis in 2008 and much more for the previous month when things went south for her.  Although Edward and I had just been commenting about how hungry we were, we both lost our appetites from stress and sadness.  We decided to pack up a few snacks and ciders and biked to the beach--we needed to exercise some stress away and contemplate this new reality.  

I'd never biked on Highway One before, although thousands of people do it each year.  My nerves were calmed by how space the drivers gave us on the road.  The ride was easy on the way there.  We locked our bikes and walked down to south cliffs at the Gualala Point Regional Park where we nibbled our snacks and took naps.  There was a lot of discussion about how we felt, what we expected to feel once she eventually passed away, and what we wanted from the experience.  Despite the crummy circumstances of our short ride, we managed to enjoy ourselves, too.  The ride back was really tough for me with my relative lack of fitness, heavy and poorly tuned bike, and loaded baskets...not to mention the crazy north headwind and that we were biking uphill.

Me showcasing our house.
Me and Edward.
Edward checking his phone while we decide which path to take down to the beach.
Before my mom's health took a turn for the worse (worst, actually), Edward helped me pick out a suitable road bike to buy.With my long torso and short legs, I required a mixte (mix-tee, meaning unisex) frame. I ordered it and had it shipped to his apartment, where he got it all ready for me to ride. I named her Trixie the Mixte.

In mid August during one of my many recent trips to Livermore, he brought it to my parents' house so I could test it out.  Jennifer, Edward, and I road into town to eat lunch, then visited my mom at the nursing home, and then biked back to the house. It took some getting used to; steering, shifting, and balance are all a bit different than my standard had-since-seventh(!!)-grade mountain bike I'd been using up to that point.  But riding it is soooooooooo much nicer than my old bike. I still need to make some adjustments to the seat and stuff but we've fiddled with it enough that it's definitely comfortable to ride.
Me testing out my mixte frame.
On Friday I took my new bike out on a short ride all by myself--I checked out the Sea Ranch campground and then picked up my CSA box at the Gualala Arts Center.  It was an easy ride and took much less time than I expected.
Looking north, down on our little village by the sea.
Today I biked up the hill to the ridge to meet up with Dave and Eddie for fishing at Bower Park.  I know it's a steep incline, but I wanted to try it to see if it was even possible with my current fitness level.  As it turned out it was possible, just not easy at all. From Highway One up to Gualala Court it's a 10% grade for nearly the full 1.3 miles.  OUCH. I stopped 4-5 times to catch my breath and let my legs have a break.  Each time I considered turning back, cruising downhill toward home, and driving up to the park.  But once my heart rate fell to a manageable level I'd go a bit further up. I texted Dave from the Gualala Redwoods gate and asked him to pick me up.  But by time time he drove by I was already trudging up the hill again.  He turned around and then chatted with me at we both headed north on Old Stage.  At this point I was on the ridge itself so the incline wasn't too intense.  I told him to go ahead and I'd meet him at the park.  So he and Eddie went off to find some worms for fishing.

My Bower boys.
I can't believe I made it ALL THE WAY UP THERE--all 922 feet in elevation!  My thighs felt like jelly and I was pretty nauseated at times but I am glad I ended up finishing.  That route is now a goal for me--I'd like to attempt it 1-2 times each week until I'm able to stop only once or not at all.
Have you ever seen such a cute four year old fisherman before?  Or one who casts twenty feet on his own?  Methinks not.
Yay Bower!
My mom would not have understood or cared about my biking attempts because exercise was not her thing.  But she'd like the idea of me going on bike trips, because traveling was definitely her thing.  And of course that's the goal (other than using it as a form of exercise). I hope to join Edward and Jennifer (and who else wants to come?!) on some fun long distance biking adventures soon.


Leah Roy said...

Good job, Julie! That is a serious trek. I biked all the time in college but haven't done it since...seriously, how sad. I was actually thinking I should get a bike and a trailer to start taking the kids to school next year (when Charlie and Lucy will be at different schools, starting very close together in time + baby).

Hope you are well, friend!

Ms. said...

oh my gosh your amazing-for real! ha out of shape! Your bike is since 7th grade? That is pretty awesome that he kept up with you this long!

steph.kelley said...

I just caught up on this post — go you!! May you get in many more wonderful rides on your Trixie (very cute). It's good that your bro supports you in both biking and these hard times. I think of you all often, and am glad to have your updates by blog and Facebook! Big hugs and love to ya -- xoxoxox