I can breathe again.
I finished up my latest book Friday afternoon, concluding a nonstop 40-hour drive to the finish line on top of a week of 18 hour days and for the first time since late July, I actually have some free time. Well... time in which I could do something other than work and not feel guilty for it. Nor will I have to stay up working all night to make up for it. This is a good thing.
I'm leading my annual mountain biking campout to the Olympic Peninsula with BBTC this coming weekend and I'm really looking forward to it. There are 18 people signed up, the weather is supposed to be great, and the trails we'll be riding are some of my favorites. But they're hard. And I haven't ridden in a month.
To help counter this month of inactivity, I headed back to Kachess Ridge on Saturday with some friends. The ride features a none-too-fun 2500-feet-in-5-miles climb on a gravel road and my decreased fitness and sleep depravity had me weaving all over the road like a drunkard. The sun beating down on me with temps around 90-degrees didn't help matters. But, my friends weren't concerned about waiting and were quick to remind me that I wait for them most of the time. The rest of the ride was rather fun. It's a technical trail at times, with a lot of steep, loose rock sections and some nice root-drops. I had to walk through one or two sections that I always clear, but my exhaustion and reduced reaction time made it unwise to take the risk.
After a day of yardwork and relaxation on Sunday, I made sure to get my butt back in the saddle last night. First, I took the kayak over to a nearby donut-shaped pond/lake about 2 miles from my house and got in a good 45-minute workout on the water. It's amazes me that I could be so close to such a massive residential neighborhood and yet be silently paddling along a tree-lined lake with mountain views and plenty of waterfowl, and not see any other people. It took about 22 minutes per lap around the lake and with a hard ride planned for the evening, I thought two laps were enough. Not to mention I once again forgot my paddling gloves and ripped a huge chunk of skin from my right thumb -- it was calloused earlier in the year, but now it's just raw.
To cap off my Labor Day weekend I headed down to Issaquah to meet up with two other riders for a 20 mile training ride on the Grand Ridge trail. I did this ride a few times in the fall and winter and it was an okay training ride, but nothing really fun. Fortunately, the trail has been extended a few miles now (down the backside of the ridge) and not only do we get a few extra miles of riding in, but some of it is actually pretty fun. It doesn't feel just like a training ride anymore. Nevertheless, the ride does pack 20 miles and 2270 feet of climbing. We had a woman with us last night who was riding at night for the first time. It's always spooky in the woods at night for the first time when you know there could be bears or cougars around. Ross and I made sure to wait for her every now and then, but she did a good job of not letting her imagination get the better of her and just enjoying it. I think we'll see her out on those night rides a lot this year.
It felt great climbing into bed last night exhausted once again from physical exertion instead of just mental stress. And it feels really good this morning to feel a little tightness in my arms and shoulders. I need this.