Recovering From Old Age

I usually wake up to the first rays of the morning sun breaking over the mountains to the East. It’s a pleasant way to start the day. This morning I was awoken by a burning sensation under my right shoulder blade and a numb hand. Mountain biking, body is fine. Paddleboarding I’m fine. Apparently sleeping through the night is my biggest physical challenge.

I took Advil in hopes of calming the traitorous muscle in my back and worked for a few hours while stretching and telling myself that today would be a “rest day.” The West is on fire again and the skies are filled with smoke. My Garmin flashed another extreme heat warning. With three excuses available I reconciled myself to a day of sitting on my chafed rear end.

Sitting in front of a computer first thing reminded me that I can’t not ride. It’s much easier to face the day after having spent a few hours on two wheels.

Lucky for me I have a Time that rides like a cloud and country roads are relatively empty at 10 a.m. Determining that my shoulder might fail the Ripmo and there was no way it could handle the pounding from the Bianchi I set on a recovery ride.

Empty country road headed south to Paradise, Utah
The road to Paradise. No palm trees

I kept the promise I made to my aching body and turned around in Paradise to keep to my recovery route.  Sweet now dripping off my brow I was grateful for the occasional angelic cloud using it’s body to shield me from the blast furnace in the sky. 

At the entrance of Blacksmith Fork Canyon I am faced with a choice. Turn and head home with my resignation at 26 miles forever recorded on Strava or I can break the 30 mile barrier with just a bit of a detour up with a climb into the hills. I convince myself, “it’s along the river and so it will be cooler.” 

Curve in the road on Blacksmith Fork Canyon near Hyrum, Utah
The beauty of Blacksmith Fork will suck you in and spit you out

There’s the remains of an old dam a few miles up. It’s a good mental goal to mark where I can allow myself to turn. I ride past that determined to make the Garmin say 24 miles before I turn around. Besides, my music is loud and I’m flying uphill at 23 mph. I am not Superman. That speed and the clarity of music can mean only one thing – tailwind. Blacksmith Fork Canyon loves to court you on the way in and I love to surf the breeze going up. The feeling is amazing and the power output is low. At 24 miles I take the bait, ignore the admonition to turn and continue deeper into the mountains. I wave to a rider headed in the opposite direction. I can’t turn now. If I pass him on the way down he’ll think me a quitter.

Remains of a dam in Blacksmith Fork Canyon
I hear there was a dam here

A few more miles and I come to the Hyrum power plant – a tiny old building that emits a high pitched whine from the turbines generating power to supply all those e-bike cheaters. I turn and face the wind. Even with the assistance of gravity I struggle against the air, my shoulder whimpering “I told you so.”

I make it out alive and turn down Old Hollow road just after a crimson minivan. I’m this moment I sprint to catch their draft. If I can tuck in behind them I can cheat Strava like a boss and post a sweet time. I make it to 29mph. Unfortunately for me the lady of the can has a lead foot and in spite of the 25mph speed limit she is gone. Cheaters never prosper or win KOMs or at least I don’t.

Now all I have to do is go home except that I feel a sharp sting on the inside of my left ankle. At first glance I see nothing. Then there is a burning sensation. I reach down and brush off the remnants of a mountain bee that must have gotten confused when we collided. It hurts but I really hate killing those guys. We need pollinators.

Nothing like a different pain to make you forget about the pain you started with. My shoulder is feeling much better.

The Ride – South Cache Valley Loop