First Ride On Clarks For 2008

Today after work I headed over to Draper to ride Clark's trail, which I heard had opened a few days ago. I parked at the equestrian center and made my way up the Lower Corner Canyon trail. Sure enough Clark's was open. Brad mentioned that some people time trial up Clark's so I started my stopwatch at the bridge to see what I could do. My form didn't feel good, but I pressed on anyway. I passed 4-5 riders going up. In the steepest part in the trees I struggled harder than I feel I should have. I need to get some climbing strength back. Near the top there are a few spots of snow on the trail so you have to sneak by in the mud on the edge. It should be gone soon. At the last sign I checked my watch and saw 16 minutes even. Not bad, but I think I can shave a minute off that just by working on my climbing for a few weeks. Maybe I could even crack 14 minutes. It will be fun to TT Clark's throughout the year to gauge myself.

I really enjoy going down Clark's. It has such good flow. But with all the people going up I thought I'd have to slow or stop a lot for more riders coming up. Surprisingly the only riders I ran into on the way down were Brad and Tasha - it was nice to see them and chat a bit. Brad was running the dork bike. We talked about the 5-Mile Pass race tomorrow - Jolene is going, but I don't think I will. And we didn't mention the obvious topic (the so-called elephant in the room) - seems like no one wanted to bring it up (more on that below).

I finished ripping down Clark's. I pushed it a little faster than normal - it felt good. Then I took the Silica Pits trail then up Ghost Falls to the 2nd creek crossing and took that old dirt road over to the foot bridge and that newish trail over to the BST. I was feeling good and enjoying the nice weather so I went up the BST to the dirt road then turned around and ripped down. I like to play when I ride so I jumped off the humps in the trail and banked up on turns. I took the triple whoops on the old road a bit faster than usual and got some air and a bit of a thrill. I descended back down the Corner Canyon trail and saw two riders with FatCyclist jerseys - right on! I ended by running dropping the stone stairs - seems that's become a tradition. I loaded up the bike and drove home.

OK, the elephant in the room. This morning I read some bad news on Elden's blog, FatCyclist. Susan (Elden's wife) has cancer and she had an MRI that revealed lots of little tumors in her brain. Elden has been very open about Susan's condition and the fight they've waged against her cancer over the years. Lately there seemed to be signs of hope, but this bad news is quite a blow.

As I read, the reality of it slowly sunk in. It made me a little angry, but it mostly made me sad. Sad that some people suffer and bear such huge burdens. Sad that there's nothing I can do to change it. Sad that their family is having to deal with this. It brought tears to my eyes and put me in a somber mood all day. One positive thought I had is that, in some weird way, I'm glad to feel for Susan and Elden and their family - it's not pleasant, but there's something right about it; compassion and empathy. dug had some good words that I identified with.

The mountain bike therapy was helpful. The discomfort of the climb was there, but it seemed easier to bear and I certainly wasn't going to complain, not even in my thoughts. I had a lot to cheer me up: the green brought by the hope of Spring, the fresh cool air, bird songs, butterflies, my body working to propel me along, the thrill of speed, the connection with the bike, and all the other sights, sounds and sensations.

At home it was the usual scene, but it seemed more dear to me today. Hugging my wife Jolene. I listened to my daughter tell me about her induction (hazing?) into Show and Chamber Choir (she loves to sing and has a beautiful voice). Talking with the other children and just observing their happiness and innocence. Jolene briefly explained to the children that Susan is sick and got some bad news today, then we prayed as a family and my 9-year-old daughter asked that Susan get better. I'll bet there's a lot of this happening today.

Sorry to end on such a heavy note, but I needed to say it. And sorry for no pictures, I meant to take the camera but forgot and left it in the car.


UtRider said...

Clark's is overrated.

I'm having a real struggle with Fatty's situation. Funny how blogs work. I've never met Elden yet I feel like we've been friends for a long time. The dude is strong, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

As I read Fatty's blog the last two days, I felt like a big strong horse had kicked me in the stomach.

Like Mark, I've never met Fatty. I've exchanged a handful of emails but that's about it.

Yet, I feel like someone is taking something away from me and I can't stop it. That hopeless feeling is no fun at all. Isn't it strange how blogs have opened up our hearts and minds to otherwise complete strangers? I feel more sadness and compassion for a family I hardly know than I have some close friends or family members when something similar has happened - and I felt terribly sad then.

Brad Mullen said...

Hugs are good, even in happy times :-)