Monday, August 18, 2008

Winds of change

The winds of change are blowing. Case in point, the following was in my mailbox on Saturday:


So even though the mercury reading is well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit today, summer is almost over. Leadville is over, Lotoja is just over two weeks away, school starts next week, and the EPL season is underway.

Fall is pretty much here, and I am in no way ready for it. For starters, I don't have nearly the number of long rides that I did last year before Lotoja. Last year, I was doing a century pretty much every weekend in July and August. This year, all year, I have done exactly four rides of 100 miles or more. I'll do one more this weekend, but I'm getting dangerously close to the event and may not leave enough recovery time if I try to squeeze in too many hard efforts at the end.

I also start coaching football (not the American kind) again this week. This presents a real dilemma, since there's a chance I'll be relocating in order to take a new job. Not really sure how to approach this one, whether I should just go about things business as usual unless something changes, or whether I should resign right now and have my assistant take over in order to avoid disruption. Adding to the complexity, I am coaching two teams this year for the first time, the U10 girls I have coached for the last four years, as well as my son's U5 team.

This fall I also had high hopes of racing 'cross to see if that would keep me in shape before ski season starts. I was going to get a 'cross frame and swap over all the components from my commuter bike and then commute on the 'cross bike. Unfortunately, no job = no money, and no money = no 'cross frame. I could just throw some cross tires on my 29er and race on that, which may end up being the only viable option.

Of course change, even when one is unprepared for it, is not a bad thing. There are a lot of really great reasons to love this time of year. For starters, it's harvest season. Our garden this year has been a complete bust, but farmers markets abound with some wonderful local produce this time of year, like these fingerling potatoes. I had no idea potatoes came in purple, and I live in Idaho.

We also had some friends call and ask if we wanted to come pick some of their peaches. They had harvested all they could use and didn't want the rest to go to waste, so of course we were happy to help out. Rachel spent all day last Wednesday canning, freezing, and making jam from the peaches. I'm sure you'll be able to read about it on her blog shortly, but there's a certain feeling of contentedness that comes from having jam and fruit for the winter ahead.

Of course having produce in the house also affords the opportunity to use it creatively. We had tomatoes from the farmers market and fresh peaches, so with a little onion, serrano, citrus, garlic, and chipotle added to the mix, I was able to make a delicious peach pico de gallo yesterday afternoon. Rachel commented that something is really good when I make a comment about how much I'm enjoying it after I've already eaten half the bowl. For the record, it was more like 1/3 of the bowl, not that I'm keeping track or anything.


I also have to admit that as much as I am still enjoying riding my bike, I've actually started thinking about skiing again. And when I think about skiing, I get genuinely excited. I love floating through powder so deep it floats over my head. I love feeling like a complete and total ninny standing in the tram line at Snowbird, as if my 97mm waist skis are somehow inadequate for what they're about to be asked to do. I love feeling my lungs burn from the cold, thin mountain air. I even don't mind hearing the bro speak on the chairlift, even though I don't actually speak the language and resist using some of the words so critical to that vernacular.

But the best part about skiing doesn't come at the top or bottom of a mechanized lift--it comes at the end of a steep boot pack or at the top of a long skin track. That feeling of complete and total detachment from all that is controlled and civilized in the world and total connection to something larger, more powerful, and more enduring than what man has conspired to build is the very best part. Standing at the top of a line that people riding lifts and descending groomers don't even know exists, quivering a bit with cold as the sweat from the hike up begins to evaporate and nerves from the imminent descent begin to build, and then dropping in--that is a feeling like nothing else in the world. It's rare in this world to hear people spontaneously shout for joy. Unless, that is, you're in the backcountry on a powder day.

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