Back in the Desert

Convalescence was the name of the game, back in Anchorage, especially for Eszter and even for me. Mine may have been a pleasure tour, but it was still a big week of riding, by any standard. I’ll call it ‘base training’, just because the hours on the bike were there, and just because I can.

We were staying at Sharon Sell’s house, and there are trails rideable right from the door. No way we were just going to sit on our hands. So we rode.

Slowly and awkwardly, but we rode. We climbed and walked a little, got gigantic views of Anchorage and Denali, and just generally had a grand time. Thanks for the tour, Sharon! Sharon will be back in AZ for the AZT 300, so I’ll get to return the favor, in the form of a GPS tour, anyway.

multi-use trail!

We also got a quick tour of the in-town trails from Eric Parsons, en route to his house and to delicious brownies. If you don’t yet own one of Eric’s bags, you will. Tools for adventure. Pretty cool to see his shop and hang out there.

Back in Boulder there was much to catch up on in ‘life’ (especially computer life), and there was some good winter weather, too. I was so happy to feel the sun for extended periods, and 40 degrees has never felt so warm. I even got a few rides in, both with and without a recovering Eszter.

Boulder is sometimes just too easy to make fun of, so I will resist…

Still, it’s a great trail. Close to town. Fast. Fun. I even enjoyed the challenge of navigating the mucky sections with the goal of keeping my shoes/cleats free of mud. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with it all winter, though.

It was with mixed emotions that I loaded up the Sports Van and bid farewell to Colorado’s winter and said goodbye (for a week and a half) to the most awesome girl on the planet.

my I’m excited to be surrounded by desert warmth face

Out on the bike soon after arriving in Tucson, I pedaled and giggled my way through my warm and incredibly vibrant ‘home’ trails. CO and AK had been absolutely amazing and I would not change a thing, but there was something so healing and rejuvenating about pedaling, in the sun, and without wearing twenty five layers. Light and free, the way god intended bikes to be ridden! I can’t believe I’ve been so fortunate to live here so many winters. It really is paradise.

I had to say ‘hello’ to all my desert friends, one by one, calling them by name, as I pedaled along. Hello Saguaro! Hi Cholla! How are you, Hedgehog? Ocotillo, you’re so GREEN! I missed you, Cat Claw! Errr…

I think maybe I did even miss the scratchy ones!

And as the light fell and the shadows grew, I was reminded even more what a special place this is.

I lost myself in the night and the deep contrast. The white and frozen stillness in Alaska. The electric life and abundant warmth of the Sonoran Desert. I was lost in the diversity of the planet we are so lucky to inhabit, the diversity of life.

I got the boys together for a Ranchito ride, foolishly pointing the group towards a local granny gear grunt. Western exposure, baking sun, temperatures in the 90’s. Beyond brilliant! From waking up at -20 in my sleeping back to cooking at 90 degrees, I officially declared myself thawed out about halfway up, sweat pouring off my brow. I’d forgotten even what that felt like. My brain at first went to “need to strip off a layer, or do something about this”, before I realized there were no layers to strip. That’s just what you do in the desert heat. Ride, ride and ride some more. Deal with it.

Or, stop in the shade, which we also did!

Really? Flowers too? You’ve got to be kidding me.

And, and, and, this place has more rocks than anyone could ever want! Trails so narrow and challenging they almost don’t seem worth riding. Until you ride it, and love it the whole time.

Tech skills were a little rusty, but coming back quickly.

It was great to be gone. It’s good to be back.

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