Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Getting in Gear

IMG_0086  Owner has the flu and is downright miserable (to be around).  Not much is happening except sneezing, moaning, and groaning.   I had to forage in her diary  to come up with a posting.  By the way I thought this photo showed her “hang dog” look of the moment) So here we go, Kath’s diary.  Enjoy.

If you think you are too old to do something, then it is likely true.  Take me for example, I’m 50.  On a really good day with makeup, hair dye, and fab clothes I look great….you might mistake me for 49. Put me in bike shorts, helmet, sunglasses, and add a little mud to my clothing and I look 37….ok, 47. To be perfectly frank, though, it’s the mud that adds to my youthfulness.

Kathy and Karen

Throw in a little adversity and the mind can decide to give in and give up or conquer all that comes in its path. I tend to be a little AC/DC with adversity. A week ago I was in the local medical centre begging for any drug they had to relieve my four day migraine. I am living at 8,750’ in the Colorado mountains and had tried massage to relieve the pain, and also crawled into a hyperbaric chamber (similar to being zipped into your tomb) to breathe in oxygen to relieve the pressure in my head. Nothing worked. Off to the medical centre it was,  son’s orders, and I succumbed to any and all drugs they were willing to slip into a vein  because at that point I was  ready to give up and die. By Monday….whole new story…..which led me on my journey back to youthfulness.

Basin Trail Ride

(bragging rights, Prospect Basin Trail….this starts at about 10,000’ and although it looks like a nice little road….this was a tough ride, especially as we got lost on the way home.) 


It’s not that I don’t take exercise seriously, I really do. My Texan  trainer, Octavius,DSCN0566 puts me through my paces twice a week. He’s a former Marine so you can imagine how unforgiving he is of age, gender, and anything else that might make me feel a bit weak. I continue his workouts on my own the rest of the week.  I take my age and sex as a directive for competition against any and all men in the gym; if they do 20 push ups I do 25 slowly. It is a sickness I know but it can’t be helped; it’s in my genes. I play racquetball if and when I have a partner. I’m a regular at spinning class and I have been known to enjoy the treadmill. As I get older my back aches a little more so I have thrown in yoga twice a week with my good friend and tough task master, Laura. But, mountain biking! That is an entirely different ball of wax.

DSCN1485Mountain biking is not new to me but it is  six years since it has been part of my repertoire. While living in Phoenix a girlfriend and I would get up at 5:30 in the summer  to hit the trails by 6 and be finished our ride by 9 a.m. We tried biking with the husbands but it just got irritating. For example, once after having fallen off my bike into a cactus, then fallen off again trying to  conquer a  hill deep in gravel, my husband turned and said, “you might want to get out of the way because a group of guys want to ride downhill.”DSCN0332 My response was pretty much, “I don’t care if the “add appropriate adjective here” Queen of England is headed my way, I’m not moving.” After that I only rode with my friend, Anna;  if a marriage is worth saving you have to put some effort into it, right? 



Fast forward  and we find ourselves living in The Woodlands, TX. It is a pretty place with nice wide sidewalks for riding your bicycle, walking your dog, SWEATING, but not really exercising. Forgive me if I offend  masochistic Houstonian runners,  but outdoor recreation is really not a big part of the Houston scene. Remember, Houston often wins the dubious prize of fattest city in the U.S. or more likely The Planet. Luckily, we began summering in Telluride, Colorado (I know, lucky dog) and mountain biking reared its ugly head once again. Of course it is called mountain biking because people like to ride up and down  mountains.  Let’s face it, my husband is an addict…but he’s not stupid, he’s never asked me to go with him since that last disaster.  Our son,IMG_5558  however, has no memories to draw upon regarding mum and mountain biking so he asked me to join him yesterday. Fool that I am my response was, “sure, sounds fun.”(as an aside I must admit that it led to me making an ass  of myself at the rental store when I put my gloves on upside down!….just checking THEY knew what THEY were talking about in the expertise department)

The original plan was we would cruise the local River Trail (easy, anyone who can ride a bike can do this) and then explore a bit further out on to the newly acquired Valley Floor. Let’s examine the word “floor” for a moment. Doesn’t it conjure up images of an easily negotiable and  relatively flat surface? Well, that would be wrong.  It was a struggle for me to maneuver my bike up eight inch  inclines because there were large bundles of roots in the way, loose rock to skid through,  boulders to squeeze between without amputating a foot, and fabulous bridges made of one or two rotting logs to traverse (on my bike, are they crazy….I walked!). Of course if you are 19 these are fun and basically non-existant  obstacles to be jumped and swerved around. It is a given that eighty year old locals would have been better on their bike than I was. Oh, and lets not forget the mosquitoes that attack 50 year old women trying to partake in a child’s game. The mosquitoes hovered directly over every bare piece of my anatomy having a veritable Thanksgiving Day Feast. At one point I looked down and was horrified tDSCN0277o see large clots of blood all over my shirt. I was a bit panicked to think that I had been so thoroughly eaten alive within the first twenty minutes of our bike trip. My son, Benj, laughingly assured me that it wasn’t blood, merely large globs of mud. Mud….well, that was kind of cool I thought. You know what they say though, if you aren’t bleeding you aren’t riding. (fooled you, not my arm!)

Once I had survived the floor it was time to hit the Goose. I’ve hiked the Goose before and it goes straight down to a river and then you turn around and hike straight back up to YOUR CAR. Now we had to ride down and ride up and then ride home. What was I thinking? It’s only a couple of miles total  but a mile  straight up a  hillside is demanding. I got a quick lesson in using my brakes; at my age information not essential to my daily life is quickly tossed out so that I can continue to remember the important stuff.  For example, don’t slam on the front brake or you are going over the handle bars. I followed this directive so completely that I had blisters on one hand from only using my back brake, and this with gloves.  That is, I only used my back brake until I became frightened by a giant rock in my path. Oops….wrong brake, smash pubic bone into bike frame, lift bike up off ground, fall over sideways  down a hill, pull bike on top of you, land on shoulder. I’d say in the world of falls it rated a 10.0. Of course, my son was nowhere to be seen so I had to pick myself up, dust myself off and, as the song  says, start all over again.

The rest of the trip pretty much went without mishap. All of that exercise I do paid off since I was able to bike up the hill no problem. OK…huffing and puffing could be heard but the trip was completed and in good time. The only enduring issue was my sore shoulder and it caused me to use some pretty extreme language. Since my son has lived with me ever since he was born! my sailor talk just rolled off him like water. He paid me no attention whatsoever. Instead he drew my attention to a herd of  30 deer nibbling in the field next to us. He is wise.

 McLaughlin Photos 2 Yesterday was a strong reminder of something I already know deep inside my soul. Get up, get out, and keep moving. Go wild. Go extreme….for your age that is! No true mountain biker would even call what I did yesterday mountain biking!, but for me it was a great step outside of my every day world. I finished the ride feeling victorious. I felt I had conquered the world. I felt alive. I felt muddy…and every puddle splashed through had taken a few more years off my age; and I don’t mean off my life!

Many fifty year old women are paying big bucks to get covered in mud to feel young and rejuvenated; there are cheaper ways if you dare.


Kathy at Beach

Casey at the helm again….See ya later.

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