Monday, June 20, 2011

Fighting vainly the old ennui

was of the delusion that we would ride hard, arrive in a town, shower, eat, then get drunk with locals. With the exception of our days off, this is a physical impossibility. Between sunburn, windburn, and sheer exhaustion, it is all we can do to scrub two wool socks together in a motel sink. The riding is definitely the best part of the day, so it's not terribly devastating to miss out on local color. As I mentioned before, looking at the elevation map can bring down morale. And in all honesty has brought me a great deal of anxiety. A flat-lander, born and raised, mountains are a stranger to me. Today, however, some of that anxiety has dissipated. A nasty case of sun poisoning coupled with this morning's freezing rain had lead to a good bout of despair. It was the first time I felt like I couldn't do this.

Dear reader, I hope you know I expose this weakness in confidence, as I would never want to lose my invincible tough guy front.

Our first descent today I was feeling courageous and breaked much less than in the previous days. (Meaning I loosened my white knuckle death-grip long enough to let the bike move forward.) At last, I have discovered that a downhill can be both exhilirating and enjoyable. With the wail of joni mitchell's court and spark, sky, clouds, mountains, nearly no one on highway 50; 42 MILES AN HOUR! My god, this is adventure! (And I hate exclamation points, so you know I mean it)

Arrived in Ely, Nevada around 4:00. A 77 mile ride. Made good time considering our late start. We waited three hours for the rain to stop. Ely is a ghost town. But not in a touristy kind of way. A ghost town from the early 1900's is charming and spooky. A ghost town from the 1960's is just depressing. Chris and I have had lengthy conversations pondering what fuels local economy in these western cities when much of the mining industry is defunct. Casinos? That is one answer. But no one comes to Ely, Nevada for casinos. They go to Reno or Vegas. So, it stands to reason that money that goes into the casinos here comes from local pockets. This leaves us wondering what is left to stimulate local economy in the desert. With maybe 35 businesses on the main drag, 15 are closed forever. I think that when affluent college students matriculate and want to try their hand at some philanthropic endeavor they should be forced to come to Ely, Nevada instead of the exotic destination they had planned. They could build houses, set up shelters, food pantries and job placement centers and then we could guarantee that they wouldn't have any fun.

Ok, it's lofty, but places like this make me wonder who will help these people when there is no incentive to come here.

Totally waterproof helmet


  1. I think I understand where you're at, mentally-speaking. I did an Outward Bound course way back when, and I remember reaching my edge of despair. I had the advantage of being surrounded by people I hated, though, which gave me the bloody-minded and spiteful desire to beat the bastards. I learned that what I needed to succeed was to reset my expectations. My mind had some unexpected assumptions about what was reasonable, or even possible for my body. After repeatedly not dying from stress and exhaustion, my brain said, "oh, okay. I can do this." The realization has helped in many ways ever since. I imagine it will do the same for you. Understanding and appreciating the true strength of your body, and the power of your determination, is liberating.

    You can do this. You will do this.

    Much love, and teeth gritted,


  2. Did you get the package we sent to Ely today? Hope all the stuff we sent was helpful in some way. Love Ma.

  3. When you get close to despair, think of real despair. Remember that you are free to ride, go on an adventure, and experience joy, pain, discomfort and exhilaration of your own choosing. Think of the real despair of those who have not had the pleasure of choosing their discomfort. Think of your friend who said, "I just enjoy the moment."
    Remember that you did not set out on this journey thinking it would all be Sweet Fun Time. And remember that it will get worse. It will also get better than anything.

    Ride On! Ride Hard! Ride or Die!