This week we’ve been camping at the Black Canyon Campground in Santa Fe National Forest. There is a bathroom right next to our campsite and just past that, a hiking trail. I wake up in the morning at 7:15, feed the dog and use the facilities. Go back to bed for another 20 minutes. Evan makes coffee, I let the dog out, and then head out on a hike with the family. It’s a lollipop trail that takes about 45 minutes and is pretty hilly, and by the time we are done, I have enough of an appetite for breakfast: almond buttered toast, protein shake, or maybe some fried polenta and vegan sausage if I have a big training ride ahead of me.
I hired a coach. He, John Verhuel, is the JBV in JBV Coaching, for which my friend Chris Mayhew is also a coach. John was kind enough to let Evan and I park outside his house in Albuquerque this past December when we stopped in the city on our way to Santa Fe, to see our friends Saviors play the Launchpad. He used to live in Santa Fe and knows a lot of the good rides, which was something I really wanted in a coach, having not been a road or mountain biker when I lived here, but rather a commuter and bike tourer. Since putting more focus on saddle time, however, I have found or cobbled together some great road rides to get me exploring the city and the new bike paths that have been developed since I lived here, and prior to moving to this campsite, having a coach and a schedule was a great motivator to finally ride up the ski basin hill, which I have been actively avoiding for years. I started training in the beginning of May, so today marks the first day of week three. It’s a recovery day, so I went to yoga in the morning and made good use of their shower (another shower option, which is also very pleasant, is to treat myself to a spa day at Ten Thousand Waves, which includes a shower and plenty of lotions). Yesterday was a 4-hour ride that was supposed to be easy but instead I had headwinds almost the whole time, and it rained or hailed almost the whole time, and was cold, and I got lost. While that is annoying on a training ride, I know that almost our whole ride this summer is going to be along a portion of the planet that has uncharitable weather patterns, where it isn’t unheard of for it to snow a foot in August. Riding through all the melee yesterday was a good character building exercise and I dug into my reservoir of motivation, thinking of what else I would like to be doing instead of pedaling my bike. At home, I have no internet, so I couldn’t send out emails or fret about email or waste time on the internet. I could drink hot cocoa and watch Arrested Development DVDs, which there was time enough for once I got back to the trailer. Looking at my watch, I knew there was plenty of time to get warm and relax, but only that moment to push through and make those miles count.
It’s also worth mentioning that our campground is maybe a third of the way up to the Santa Fe Ski Basin, which is considerable. It takes about an hour to climb to our campsite from the bottom of the hill, and the other night I rode for an hour starting from our campsite and working my way further up the mountain. I didn’t make it to the top but I was almost there. The rode started to dip considerably and I didn’t want to have to go down only to have to climb back up, especially since the sun was setting.
Every ride to or from our current home includes a massive climb. Even the small blurp in the otherwise downhill journey into Downtown Santa Fe is actually as long and steep as one of the larger hills in Pittsburgh, which we used to avoid riding up when possible because of it’s magnitude. For a work commute, it’s a hassle. But for a place to live and train to ride the Great Divide, which is coming up in July. The beauty here is immeasurable. There are bear and mountain lions but I haven’t seen them. I have, however, seen the deer that look like donkey, and a black widow or three. One today came crawling out of a pinecone I was absentmindedly peeling like an artichoke while I enjoyed watching Major Tom roll in the sun.
There’s no cell reception here. One has to either ride to the top the mountain (or as high as I rode the other day) or to the near-bottom of the mountain, by Ten Thousand Waves, to pick up any cell service at all. Even then, it’s spotty and weak. Even as we’ve spent time in town with friends, I love being up here and love the peace and quiet. I’ve missed having space for the three of us (and I’m 100% positive our friends missed having space for the three of them while they generously shared their lives with us). My brain has been clearer and my body more relaxed. I read one book from cover to cover and another I’m a quarter through: one, The Heart of Haiku, on the haiku of Basho and another, No Meat Athlete, on eating vegan and training for endurance sports. More on No Meat Athlete once I finish it, but so far it’s been helpful, informative, and motivating to help me finally re-quit cheese and foods with egg in it (although, honesty time, at Game Of Thrones night last night, I did eat cheese and crackers and leftover birthday cake. But I went for the vegan ice-cream instead of the hard stuff).