Some Randoms

The whiplash is mostly gone, but new and weird pain has shown up in my knees. And my scabs are starting to itch, which in some ways, is so much worse than the pain.

After we came out at the end of the trail on Saturday, we loaded our bikes onto the doctor’s truck, and we headed back up to the trailhead where the other car was parked. People started transferring bikes from the car to the SUV. It was barely a 10-minute ride and I thought it was funny how we spent three hours on a trail for such a short return. It was definitely worth it.

People were chatting, and all of a sudden I felt dizzy. And the back of my head tingled. And everything was washed out in white light. And I thought, [bleep], I’m about to pass out.

I didn’t faint, though, but instead squatted where I stood and lowered my head and closed my eyes. I began to wonder if this was a result of the fall, if hitting my head had to do with the dizziness. It scared me a bit.

People kept on chatting, and I stayed seated. Then someone might have looked at me–he must have–and then he asked if I was okay. And I told him that I was dizzy. And the other stuff I was feeling. And he said that I had altitude sickness and that I should take two aspirin and drink a lot of water. That the aspirin would thin my blood and allow oxygen to travel more easily through my body blah blah blah fishcakes.

Someone gave me two ibuprofen and said it would do the same thing as aspirin. I dropped the pills from my palm into my mouth and drew some water from my Camelbak.

We boarded the white SUV and the driver blasted the air conditioning and I positioned the vent next to me to blow on my head. Someone told me how to recline my seat, so I leaned back and closed my eyes for a bit.

Within the first five minutes of the drive back to Duck Creek Village, some nausea sneaked up on me. I began to think how I would tell the people in the car how I was going to throw up at any second: could we pull over please, I’m about to vomit. Or that I’d just roll down the window and blow chunks and hope not to ruin the paint on the car. But, I continued to lay back and focus on the conversation around me, and soon the nausea subsided.

The sensation of the entire experience came back only one more time, and I worried that I would have to drive for four hours to Provo in this condition. Yet, my body adjusted to the altitude, and once I drank more water and had something to eat, it wasn’t so bad.

The drive to Provo was great. Thunderstorms booming and tumbleweed rolling across the interstate. Playlists and Radiolab podcasts. Mountain biking that morning and 8 hours of hiking the day before worked me hard, but maybe adrenaline kept me alert. And pain rode with me the whole time. Soreness had begun to settle into my joints and muscles. Mostly my shoulders.

I didn’t interact with very many people today. Maybe a total of two lines in Google Chat, and one response in facebook. All this morning.

I began rereading Atlas Shrugged. When I opened to the first page of Ms. Rand’s tome this morning, a familiar-weird-bad taste returned to my mouth. I was 18 or 19 when I read it the first time. I was only 17 when I read the Fountainhead. It’ll be interesting to see if my opinions have changed over the years. Writing: fine. Story: fine. Propaganda: whatever. I mean, it’s hard for me to understand how this woman could hate women so much; how her philosophy was JUST SO COOL once upon a time. If I take everything she says with a grain of salt, then I will also need a good prescription for high blood pressure. Or I won’t have to wonder why I’m retaining so much water.

I want scones. Real scones from England.

Before It Gets Better

It happens so fast, you know?

They tell you all sorts of things, like to “feather” the front brakes while going hard on the back brakes. Like hanging your weight at the back of the bike. And not to lean forward. And keeping the pedals horizontal–at 3 and 9–instead of at 6 and 12, so that they don’t catch  onto rocks or the sides of deep grooves.

And maybe the bike is a little big on me, but it’s also very light.

I. Am also very light.

Gravity doesn’t care. I’m on two wheels, and there are rocks and roots, and sometimes the trail isn’t much more than a couple feet wide before it falls steep. And suddenly.

There is a lot of skidding. And it is easy to slip.

I’m bringing up the rear, because I know I’m the slowest and most skittish.

Within the first 20 minutes, I fall off the side and into some brush. It’s a soft landing, but: gravity. I grab onto some branches to keep from sliding further.

I call out, “I fell.”

“Are you okay?” The girl ahead of me waits.

“Yeah, I’ll be down in a second.”

My bike didn’t slide very far either, so I crawl back up to the trail and pull the bike up to me. I mount and begin riding the trail again.

I hit a relatively smooth section, and it doesn’t seem so bad. I do begin to go faster than I am comfortable, and I begin to squeeze the back brakes. The ground has gone from semi-firm earthiness to mostly dry clay and gravel. My rear tire starts to fishtail a little.

Two people in my group wait for me, about 150 feet ahead. I just met them this morning. The guy had told me not to hesitate walking any part of the trail that feels uncomfortable. He’s wearing full-upper-body armor because he’s a big daredevil. His girlfriend is friendly and smiles a lot and I instantly liked her when I met her. I’m excited to see them.

The trail breaks from the brush into an opening, a stretch of hard clay and rocks.  Some of the rocks are as big as mashers or golf balls, but they’re nowhere near as smooth or perfect. I come upon a drop–maybe 6 inches, with a root giving its edge a half-inch bump–or it comes upon me WAY TOO FAST, and in that instant I do everything wrong.

I probably pump the front brake. Hard.

I lean forward.

My pedals are vertical.

Then I am no longer holding onto the handlebars and my body is airborne.

Not sure for how long.

Not sure if my bike flew; if I landed near it or on it and then bounced off it.

I feel impact to my head. The ground slams the the left frontal side of my helmet, which pushes the same side of my sunglasses onto my left temple.

I land head first, then the rest of my body flips over.

I. Am very light.

I swear.

They say that swearing is a sign of stupidity, but my body is too busy processing pain to come up with anything intelligent to say.

However, I do roll onto my back from my left side to let my new friends know I’m alive.

The guy runs up to me. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.”

“NO. REALLY.”

“I can move my limbs. It just hurts.”

“This is an advanced trail. I don’t know why they decided to bring you here for your first time.”

I learn later that the guy is a doctor.

He suggests we move off to the side of the trail in case other riders come down.

The girl runs up and I sit on a nearby log. She and the guy talk about options.

Do I head back up to the beginning of the trail, since I’m only a quarter of the way down? There’s talk of some sort of outlet halfway down where I could wait to meet the others.

I feel my throat tighten and then tears are rolling down my cheeks.

I can’t stop myself from crying because
-frustration
-embarrassment
-I hurt like hell.

The guy runs to get the rest of the group. The girl wonders if the guy got any of the fall on camera, because: cool story.  I try to laugh and the girl suggests I try eating something to calm down, because she see’s how shaken up I am.

She saw the crash. I only felt it.

The rest of the group comes. I ask one of the other girls for a wet wipe, and she hands me a small foil-lined packet. I open it, pull out the tissue and begin wiping the drying blood from my arms.

The others describe the rest of the trail to me.

They say there are switchbacks and rocky sections. They talk about steep sections with big rocks and roots. They say there are also gently rolling hills and shaded areas where it’s actually nice and I’d enjoy it.

The number of guys and girls in our group is even, so I get a balanced amount of technical riding advice and sympathy. From both genders, and it’s refreshing.

Heading back up no longer remains an option. They talk as if I’ll keep going.

Someone hands me my bike. I walk it back toward the trail, take a deep breath, and shake the nerves out of my arms.

I want to keep going.

And gravity will let me.

Mountains and Me

Click the photo, etc.

Summary of the Past Three Days:

Wednesday
1940: arrived at the Gunthers
met children
bedtime stories, family prayer, etc.
talked politics while eating a turkey sandwich
talked about Africa

Thursday
1000: arrived at the St. George Temple
walked the grounds
went to St. George Town Square
played in a fountain and wading pool
rode a carousel
met random relatives of friends
went to Target
played with kids
had dinner at the Robertsons’
ate Key lime pie

Friday
900: arrived at Zion National Park
became a relayer between rangers
hiked the Narrows
hiked the Emerald Pool Trails
was completely blown away for 8 hours
spoke a decent amount of French
got lost and joked about it
ate soup
played with kids
saw a movie with Jera

Saturday
920: arrived at Duck Creek Village
1000: arrived at the Blowhard trailhead
mountain biked
fell and stuff but still had fun
became altitude sick
ate lunch
2000: drove back to Provo in the rain

Sunday
1230: placed ice pack on left shoulder
wrote short blog post

There are stories and details ahead. But first I have to try to sleep and grow back skin cells.

Guess Who’s Coming to BYU

Friday, September 2. 7:30pm.

I’m really excited.

Also, not coming to BYU, but giving free concerts in Salt Lake City:

Decemberists: July 21

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros: July 28

Also coming to BYU: my bicycle.

This summer is so, so, so, so, so, so, so, and so awesome.

That last sentence is my shout-out to the Oxford comma. I love you, man.

Magic Transporter Mission #1: Get My Bike to Utah

I just got back from a run. I ran south on State Street to Bulldog (1230 North). Then I turned east and ran past University Avenue to the road just before the big hill up to campus. Then I turned and ran south behind the RB and fieldhouse and soccer fields and ended up at 800 North, right beside the Brick Oven. I headed east to the duck pond and stretched and did some crunches. Then I headed further east toward J Dawgs and ended up on Campus Drive. I figured I’d wait for the bus home at the Wilkinson Center. But I checked to make sure I brought my bus pass and I had my student ID instead. Oops. I did also bring my debit card, but I decided since I have a bus pass, it wouldn’t be worth it to spend $2 just to catch the bus. So I swigged some water from a fountain inside the Wilk, cut northwest through campus, walked west on 1230 North to State Street, and charged up the hill to my apartment complex. About 4.5 miles total. It’s gorgeous outside, and I really enjoyed the sunshine.

I want to ride my bike. It is in a storage unit in New York City. Getting it to Utah shouldn’t be a big deal:

1. Get bike out of storage, along with bike pump.
2. Put bike in bike box for shipping.
3. Ship bike, ground service would be fine.

Seems easy enough. I’m not sure where I packed the pump, and I’d also like to have my biking clothes shipped, too. And that would complicate things a bit more, given the haphazard way I stored everything. I do have my good bike shoes and my helmet, but I don’t have any butt pants. And if I’m going to be putting substantial miles on the bike, I definitely need my butt pants. I didn’t realize I’d want to want to ride my bike so much, but the weather right now begs for it. And, it surprises me to say, my chances of moving back to New York long-term are thinning. It would be nice to have my bike around for free fun with friends.

At any rate, I’d like to fit in a couple of rides before it gets cold.

But, anytime I try to figure simplicity into plans, it always turns out to be a hassle.

We’ll see.

“I want to ride my bicycle”

What I’ll miss: Bike Paths
West Side (except for the time I hit that one person’s hand)
East Side (though more pedestrian friendly)
Palisades (never once crashed, too scared)
9W (only biked once, but the turnaround point was an ice cream stand)
All over Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Long Island

What I won’t miss: Crazed cyclists
ON YOUR LEFT! ON YOUR LEFT! MOVE OUT OF MY WAY! AAAAHHH!
Signal next time, before I hack your head off with my chain wheel!
Wee! Look at me cutting in front of traffic and heading off walkers as if I rule the streets!
See my awesome scars? I got this one while wrestling a bear that was wrestling a wolverine…