Sunday, September 14, 2008

Exhausting Fun

Slowly the reality of life back in America is sinking in and the excitement of Camp Hillseeker is just a memory. Returning from such an incredible European experience with fantastic friends is always a tough thing to do, and much harder than any of the insane rides we did.

We arrived back in Georgia on Tuesday, and I attempted an easy ride from home on Thursday. I did not feel too bad. Naturally I rode to Kennesaw Mountain because climbing is the only thing my body is programmed to do. After 1 repeat I decided not to waste my time with more. This climb takes only 10 minutes at a snail's pace, so why bother. I now only do ascents of an hour minimum and 10,000'. Geez.

Each day since we have been back, we have forced ourselves to stay up at least till 9:30. Recovering from jet lag is nothing new for us, but this one was like being thrown a curve ball. I thought after Thursday's easy ride that things were going to get back on track quickly, but nothing could be further from the truth. Friday I could barely stay awake and had to prop my eyes open with toothpicks just to greet Raja when he got home from work at 5:30.

In week 5 of my push ups regime, I had been sticking to the task, but the effort felt herculean. It dawned on me that the sheer fatigued state of my body may have something to do with it. I just now looked at next week's routine, and burst outloud snidely to an empty house, "I can't do that!"

No, not a good attitude to have, but it reflected the magnitude of my exhaustion. This glimpse of a weak moment confirmed my decision this morning to opt out of joining Raja and the gang for a ride at Blankets. Rest and recovery is first and foremost on my agenda. A repeat of week 5's push ups sounds just fine.

So if I am so utterly fatigued and wasted, then explain why Raja is not in the same boat? Did we not attend the same camp, eat the same food, ride the same rides? And to add insult to injury, he has 4 more years on his engine than I do. Ouch, somebody's pinching my pride.

For the past 2 years, Raja has had the honor of celebrating his birthday with Jeff and Becky in Europe. Last year was in Italy, and this year was in Switzerland. Not bad for a birthday present, eh? But I still felt he needed to have a mountain bike birthday ride with his buds here at home. Even though it was a few days belated, we managed to surprise him on Saturday with a gathering of friends at the Tanasi Trail system in TN.He donned the traditional birthday tiara, and the good times began.
Apparently there are magical powers for one in the grasp of the tiara, because Raja took off like a bandit leaving us all gasping in his wake. I could not believe the pace he was setting. Dang, what kind of cheese did he have in Switzerland that I did not eat? Or was it the chocolate? I thought I ate all the chocolate there was?! Whatever he had or did, it worked, because no one but Barry could keep him in reach. He was beaming from ear to ear like a school boy, and I was glad he was enjoying his birthday ride even if I was suffering greatly.

I was thrilled to have some of our roadie friends along as well as our fatty treads. Barry & Alexis took a break from thrashing the shavers, and even Sweetwater joined us. This was his first time to Tanasi, and I think he enjoyed the trails.

I love having James & Amy adding to our fun on alot of our recent rides. They were smart enough to make it a camping weekend, so they are probably enjoying the trails again today.
RedRocker and Lonestar made a guest appearance despite tight social schedules. It's tough being in such high demand!
Regularjoe came with camera in tow to graciously share in the photoninja duties. Quite honestly, my exhaustion is in every form imaginable, and I could not bring myself to carry the SLR on the ride. Only the point n shoot would do, so I appreciated Joe, Al, and Duckman taking over my job! The Euro photo count tops 3,000, which might account for some of the fatigue. I did not feel guilty for my lack of ninja moves. Boohoo, photoninja's tired. Relieved no one gave me any grief, they cut me some slack. The Captain helped wipe the tears from my eyes.
Both Joe and Ony were drawing from the power of the tiara, as they were dropping the rest of us in the pursuit of birthday boy Raja.Robin and Mel added to the strong girl power. There were 5 of us females today! Watch out boys! I tried to get a shot with some "weeds" in the foreground, in honor of our heavy hitting Swiss counselor, Kate. I recounted the funny story of Kate's comment as I was crouching behind some colorful "weeds" in Switzerland taking a photo of the mountains. In her thick English accent, she said, "Loooorrrreeeee, thaaay're just weeeeeeeds!" Yes, they're weeds, but the pretty color makes a picture so purdy! We had fun all day with that quote;-)
Kate would have really blown her top if she had seen me taking shots of mushrooms. Brightly colored and oddly shaped shrooms were all over the side of the trail. "Looorrrreeeee, thaaaay're just fungeeeeee!"We saw a snake. Oh wait, that's not a snake, that's Duckman's chain! It sure looked like a snake when I ran over it, and I thought, "Hmmm, that's a chain! How can you lose a chain and not realize it?" With his new bike, he just couldn't harness the power!And again, lost the chain coming down Thunder Rock Express! But hey, at least his bike is light!!! I want a 24 lb MotoLite, but I don't want to give up all my comfort treats. Guess I'll have to settle for heavy and happy.
Robb cleverly stayed in front of me always, so I could never snag a shot of him, but he was there! He brought the coolest birthday present ever, and we can't wait to put them to the test! Thanks, Robb!!

The Captain and Al rounded out our colorful group. It's always a laugh a minute riding with these two guys!While down below the rafters were enjoying the cool waters of the Ocoee River....
Raja beat out an impossible pace on Brush Creek. By the time we finished that fabulous section of singletrack, most of us regretted trying to keep chase. We knew we would pay for it, and I already was!

We ran into Laina and Vic out warming up for the Black Bear Rampage. Hi ya'll!We bombed down Boyd Gap and rode back along the river. I love this section when the water is "on" because the rushing sound is so invigorating. I needed all the invigoration I could get. The screams and hollers from rafters going by made me want to join in the fun.Crossing the river, there is a whole other network of trails like Bear Paw, Quartz, Riverview, and Chestnut.Normally I don't pay much attention to the climb involved on this section, but today I was painfully aware of a mountain in my way.Trying to formulate a plan, I hated being the whiner of the group, but my body simply had no juice. I knew why I was so lame. 29 hours of riding in 10 days will do that to a person, especially when normally that's your total hours of riding for a month. I was still bumfuzzled that Raja was above the laws of physics, but happy he was enjoying his day. It was his ride afterall, I just didn't want to ruin it for him.

We got to the turnoff for the Quartz Loop, and the Captain must have read my mind. He saved face for me and said he was going to sit out the loop. Not only did I raise my hand to sign up for the opt out, but so did Al, Duckman, and Robin! The rest sped off while we wallered in the dirt and had a good time relaxing and laughing!

Before we could say boo, the gang was back, and Raja had a twinkle in his eyes. "We saw a bear and 2 cubs," he exclaimed! "No way! I can't believe we missed that," I said, secretly glad I was not there. That would have scared me to death! Mama bear was in the trail and raised up when Raja approached her, then she ran off with the 2 baby cubs. Shew! No wonder all these trails have "bear" in their names.

Heading back down from Quartz to the Riverview Loop, I looked for somewhere to get a blood transfusion. There was no way I was going to finish the ride.Little did I know how many others shared my sentiment. When we got to the turnoff, I had to state the facts. "I can either do Riverview or Thunder Rock Express, but I cannot do both." Imagine my surprise when half the group rallied around me in agreement. "Me too, my legs are shot, I'm toast."

We divided into two groups, The Ride of Shame or The Ride of Fame. Merrily, Raja, Barry, Alexis, Joe, and Ony raced on for the whole enchilada, while the rest of us followed a Trail of Tears. Oh, it wasn't really that sad. Pathetic, but not sad! It's always good to be with friends on a mountain bike even if you're limping and dragging one leg behind.

It was not without drama. Sweetwater had a flat. Robin careened down the side of the trail. James test rode everyone's bike while we all passed out in the grass, and Duckman broke his chain causing a pileup on the highway. I enjoyed myself immensely and would have it no other way!

We were so pathetic in our movement, that the Rider's of Fame caught us at the bottom of Thunder Rock Express. Whatever. EPOjoe was with them, so I'm sure he was passing out pills. We definitely all got Ony-ed on today's ride. Dang, these beginners! Reunited and feeling good, we rode together down the rhododendron trail along the river. Check out the hikers sticking their heads out from behind the rocks to see if the coast is clear. We must have look like a herd of buffalo coming down the trail!This section is a much needed improvement from the days we had to ride along the highway back to the parking lot. The work done here is very impressive! If you have not ridden at Tanasi yet, this trail is perfect for a beginner as it meanders alongside the river over pretty bridges and around rocks, but nothing technical.
There is truly something for every level at Tanasi. And when you've had enough riding, it's the perfect setting for a relaxing chill while you watch the rafters and paddlers go by to the sound of the rushing waters.
There was no shortage of energy when it came to the real birthday celebrations! Gather round folks, there's birthday cake!!!Chocolate brings out the best in people, and I enjoy watching the reactions and interaction when this food of the gods is consumed. James and Amy began to eat the styrofoam lest they let a smidgen of ganache get away.Duckman and Mel shared a tender moment, showing Robb how it works when he gets married next weekend. "Don't shove the cake in her mouth at the reception!"
Yes, I was exhausted and I still am today, but it has been a barrel of fun getting there. We're so fortunate to have so many talented and wonderful friends, whether overseas or here at home. We enjoy the adventures we share and thank you all for being a part of our Life on a Bike! Here's to more exhausting fun!


Becky said...

What a great b'day surprise! We are honored to have been able to share Raja's b'day at beautiful locations two yrs in a row. I would be exhausted too if I had done all the pictures and blogs you did IN ADDITION TO all the riding and climbing we did out here! Glad to see you are at least slightly human ;)

regularjoe said...

"We" beginners do realize that we're merely tagging along and are so, so grateful to have such a great group of mentors and friends to bring us along on such a wonderful journey.

The drugs help too... :-)

Amy said...

I'm so glad Roger was surprised, and that you all had such a fun ride!

Your delicious cake was far and away the best thing we ate all weekend! Camping food, and even restaurant food couldn't compare!

Ony said...

Joe said it best. You guys hung the moon, as far as I'm concerned, so it's an honor to be able to tag along any time.