Back To Back

Working out on back-to-back days ain’t what it used to be.

Back in the day (i.e. late 1980s) for college cross country, we’d run twice a day for an entire week to start the training season. Running doubles. Around 15 miles total per day, and then on the last day we’d get up early and be out on the road at 7:00 AM for the long slow distance (LSD) run–at least 15 miles in one shot.

Nowadays, merely biking on consecutive days is a grind. I feel it in my knees, my ankles, my quads, my, um, saddle. It all aches. Especially when starting out that second day.

This past week I had to take our dog up to CSU vet center in Fort Collins–her pacemaker battery had worn out (it’s a long story) and she needed to get it replaced (they made an incision in her neck and changed the batteries, then stitched her up). So after I dropped her off I had several hours free. I worked a bit and then cruised out to the Horsetooth Reservoir for a ride–a ride I’ve been eager to try for years now, one of those trails I’ve dog-eared in guidebooks. It’s always looked cool–very rarely do you get to ride in Colorado anywhere near water, and this trail has lots of reservoir overlooks. Plus it’s mostly singletrack, and labeled “most difficult.” And boy, was that true. (I walked a bit.)

The very next day I met my buddy Ed for a ride on a local Denver fave, Apex Trail. Starting out was pure pain, and I got worried after a few switchbacks that I’d have to turn around and crawl back to my car in shame. My quads were cooked noodles, and completely invested with a dull ache.

But you know what? You just keep pedaling and focusing on being relaxed and efficient, and gradually you warm up and feel better and generally on top of things, and you so keep making your way.

I ended up having a great time. The sun cascaded toward the mountains off in the west, and we looped around through the woods, taking our time, learning “by where we have to go,” the air cooling, our bikes staying under us, rolling onward.

Looking at the pics (see below), Theodore Roethke’s poem keeps singing in my brain. It’s a beautiful, peaceful villanelle, which means that it rhymes and repeats two refrain lines at the end of each stanza, which then pair up at the end of the poem. Making them a perfect symbol for two-legged propulsion.

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground!   I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

Climbing at Horsetooth.

In the Enchanted Forest, at Apex Trail.

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