Saturday, April 30, 2011

Thoughts While Sitting in the L. A. Airport (and Vancouver and Calgary)

On the Pacific Coast Highway. I could have ridden up and down here all day. 
Los Angeles Airport

Sitting in airports appears to be the definition of killing time. There isn't much else to do other than sit and think.

I will attempt to write about this week but there is so much whirling around in my head right now I don't know how to organize it. All I know is I can't look at my week in So.Cal day by day. The days are already starting to blur.

Typing is hard. I've somehow mucked up the nerve conduction to my left hand. I have no pincer grasp with my left thumb and any of the fingers. It functions much like an infant learning to pick up Cherio's off a high chair table. I can spread my fingers apart but I can't close them. It was endlessly entertaining on Thursday night trying to watch me cut steak at dinner -- grabbing my fork with my left hand and fist. I'm not sure how I managed to control my bike yesterday, especially down the Tuna Canyon descent, where you had to ride the brakes continuously on the 17% grades and 170 degree turns. Shifting from small to big ring (and vice versa) was tremendously challenging the last couple of days.

I haven't been 100% healthy this week. I had a sore throat two days before I left Winnipeg. When I got on the plane Saturday morning, I felt OK but by the time I got to Calgary I couldn't hear or talk. The warm weather helped. Monday I rode feeling well, probably powered by adrenaline. Tuesday and Wednesday my nose ran like a tap but I still felt OK. Thursday I did 144.6 km with no voice and I could feel, what for the previous two days I had convinced myself was allergies to something growing on the Santa Monica Mountains, slipping into my chest. On Friday I was coughing up crud but at least the nose had stopped. Today I am still popping sinus meds, over a week later, and I imagine it is only a matter of time before my body gives in to whatever virus I've managed to will myself to ignore up to this point.

I'm thinking about my kids. I can't seem to travel anywhere without some kind of cell phone mishap these days so I've sent an email or two but I haven't had a chance to talk to them. I miss them.

I'm thinking about Jenn still here in L.A. for another day, hopefully resting the legs by a pool. I'm thinking about how proud I am of her that she had the courage to come out here and do this trip. Especially after day one when I think every single one of us there wondered what the hell we had gotten ourselves into. It requires a special kind of crazy to do a trip like this.

I'm thinking most of all about Don from Raleigh, NC who was my well-matched riding partner for 5 days. A good friendship can be built over 25 hours of riding with one person who is good company and always has something interesting to say. I ride with lots of different people at home, and I spent a week trying to figure out who he was most like as a rider and failed to come up with an answer. He was a constant navigator; he knew when to lighten the mood; and he was the occasional therapist. And maybe I was for him too. We took care of each other after a dumb-ass Monday riding too hard and both of us with our respective nerve damage problems. Me and my hand, him and his feet. I hope that fate somehow makes it work out that I can ride with him again someday.

And I'm thinking about the things I'm coming home to as well.

Vancouver Airport

After having to walk the entire terminal to get to my baggage, go through customs and then check another bag at another gate (forgot to take my duty free out of my carry on and put it in my luggage before I checked it), not much time here but Vancouver has me thinking about math.

How about math like this:

499.7 km (shoulda rolled around the parking lot a bit)
11,125 metres of climbing (36, 499.3 feet)
16,410 Calories burned according to Garmin (I still feel fat though -- and I'm sure I drank enough beer to make up for a good chunk of that).
25:20:31 seconds of ride time.... road time... not sure? Add another 10 hours I'm sure.

Calgary Airport

Right about now I am hoping my bike is on that plane. I don't get to see the bike between Calgary and Winnipeg. They transferred it for me. At the very least I can say that it was with me in Vancouver.

Sat on the plan with two nice "newspaper" men from Nova Scotia. They'd never flew over the mountains before, so one of them spent a lot of time leaning over me to look out the window.

I didn't tell them I am a writer. I don't know why I don't tell people that. Maybe because I don't feel much like a writer right now.

The good news is that I think the strength in my left hand is moderately better. I still can't operate zippers. This is annoying but hopefully only temporary.

I feel now like I am getting back into my real life headspace. I've thought about work, but I've drawn the line at checking my work email so far. I have not thought about my legs and let me tell you, I've thought about little else for the last week. I got up this morning and had bike envy at the cyclists I passed riding through Agoura Hills. Except it was really windy in California today and it would not have been pleasant riding.

You learn so much about yourself when you do things like this. You learn what you are capable of under pressure and when in pain. There are a couple of climbs on a couple of roads out there that I feel I have an axe to grind with -- Decker (which was the third climb on the first day when I had already blown up) and the last one from yesterday, the name of which escapes me. The 18%-er... that never ended.... Los- something.... All I can think about now is how is all this going to translate back into flat riding?

Anyways I'm gonna upload some pictures and post this and find food. My next flight leaves in an hour from the moment I type these words. I miss California already. But I miss home too. I will write about the riding another day.


JP said...


What a huge effort. VERY impressive. I would love to do something like that someday. Looking forward to the pictures!

Don said...

Kim, nicely done. It truly was an impressive week. I too need to capture my thoughts on paper as I know there will be much I will forget if I don't write it now. You were a wonderful riding partner.

Kim said...

JP.... it is soooo worth it and there will be more pictures to come.

And Don... ditto.... and hugs from Canada!