Sunday, May 19, 2013

Green Therapy

Everyone knows stress is bad for your health. But how bad and how much stress is actually harmful over what period of time? All I can say is that the past six months of life changes have stressed us enough. I should not complain, we have managed to avoid the largest sources of stress (in my selfish opinion): kids and a mortgage. Last week, I was hit by another sinus / middle ear episode and Marketa's chest X-ray showed signs of chronic bronchitis, undoubtedly a consequence of the terrible virus that cancelled her Kauai Marathon plans last fall.
Yesterday, we both succumbed to our maladies and had an unusually for us lazy day: apartment cleaning, grocery shopping, running few errands, cooking some new recipes and crashing in front of a movie at the end of the day (if they did not make the actors sing their parts, Les Miserables would have been a great picture). But even before the irritating musical ended, we both agreed that we felt the day was wasted since we did not go out beyond the city limits. Springtime around here is such a beautiful time (even in the city), all vegetation seems to grow 5 inches every day and there is a decidedly European smell of moist earth and cut grass in the air.
So not feeling any fresher on Sunday, we drove 30 minutes to Issaquah for a trail run (my wife) and a mountain bike ride (me). We scouted out the trails at Grand Ridge last week, so navigation was easy. I wanted to reach the Duthie MTB park, do a lap there and go back. My ride started with a decent climb, but I chose an easier way up the ridge, saving technical steep switchbacks for the return.

As soon as the trail leveled off, I got into a perfect rhythm, pumping the trail, leaning into the berms, jumping small drops. I felt like there was nothing else in the world, just this trail and my focus to chose the perfect line. The woods around were just so green, a green blur in my peripheral vision. I am sure I missed lots of nice natural features, some just caught the corner of my eye to stop and snap a picture.

I met few riders, perhaps ten or so in an hour and half, everyone stopped when I was climbing and said hello and I did my best to return the favors on the way down. But I did not really feel like going downhill, I realized I did not have to pedal a lot, but I was not using my brakes a lot either.

After crossing several perfectly constructed bridges (the Mike O'Puncheon bridge is really something!), I entered the Duthie MTB park and without much delay, hit the Bootcamp DH trail. The XC trails here were so pleasant to ride, that despite knowing I was running late to meet Marketa back at the car, I was afraid to look at my watch and instead kept pushing down the trail.

I skipped Braveheart, but had to complete the XC loop on Step It Up and then on Bootcamp climb. Back at the access road, I texted Marketa that I was running "a little late" (at this point I knew the little would be more like an hour or so) and charged ahead, first descending the same way I came here.

All of a sudden, I found myself in granny gear, gasping for air, on what seemed like a never ending climb. This was the section I cruised in the state of green induced euphoria on the way up. I was running out of gas (the Duthie trails require lots of body English), my quads burned but I tried to hammer as much as I could, angry at myself for being late. By the time I reached the steep downhill switchbacks, my whole body was so achy that I really took the last mile or so quite carefully. Back down on the Issaquah-Preston bike path, big ring, several upshifts, locked out the suspension and stood up on my mushy legs, just to find my lovely wife fifteen minutes later (and about 45 minutes past the promised return time) with her feet up on the dashboard, listening to her latest Mumford and Sons album. GPS track here.

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