Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Happy Camper

In less than three weeks, I leave for camp.

Not "camp" as in a bunch of kids sitting around singing folk songs. "Camp" as in "training camp."

Friend and local racer Rob has been extremely generous in setting this trip up. I originally proposed a few days away in some driveable location like Virginia, which might still be snowy at that time. Rob went into his wonderful "think-big" mode instead, and cobbled together a couple airline vouchers, some family connections and some favors from friends. We plan to fly into Salt Lake, shop for food, sleep over nearby, pick up a bunch of camping gear and couple (excellent) borrowed bikes, and drive south to Moab. Yeah, Moab. I know what you're thinking: Mountain bike heaven, right? Right, and we'll do some of that. But did you know that there's heavenly road biking there too? (Actually, "unearthly" might be a better adjective. Click on the accompanying pix for larger versions of the glory.) There's even a road-biking festival there.

Southern Utah is where I had perhaps the most significant turning point of my life. I spent the summer between high school and college blazing trail and doing conservation work in Zion National Park (just down the road from Moab). In a very real sense, it blew my mind. I was a changed man. I grew up in New York City, and I cried real tears when I had to come home. I was so mentally far away for days after returning that my parents were worried about me.

In the 27 years since, no matter where I've lived, I have considered the Four Corners area my real home on planet Earth, and have gone back as often as possible. It will be wonderful to be there, and so close to Zion.

I'm still recovering from pnuemonia, and I've spent the bulk of the last six weeks totally off of the bike. So there'll be some health questions in all that travel and sleeping in the cold -- blah, blah, blah. Let's face it: the biggest challenge might actually be holding back from riding all day, every day. However, if you are the praying type, a few prayers sent my way for full strength and recovery would be welcome!

But if the worst that happens is that I bake myself in the sun half the time or walk along the river and breathe the crystal-clear air while tripping out on the gorgeous scenery, well, how great would that be? I'm bummed I won't be able to ride long and hard, as we planned. But I'm really looking forward to the trip. In fact, it might well be just what I need for a full recovery.

Thanks, Rob. In the language of my tribe, you're a mensch.


idon'tremembereatingcorn said...

It's going to be a proper trip! Very much looking forward to it.

No One Line said...

Wow, that sounds like an amazing trip. I spent a little bit of time around Moab and Zion (and Canyonlands and Bryce, too) a bit over a decade ago when I was old enough to appreciate it but too young to have read Edward Abbey.

There's great riding in Salt Lake City, too, if you'll be spending a day there. The mountains just east and slightly south of the city have some great canyon roads leading up to them. Two friends of mine got married up in one of those canyons a year and a half ago, and I was there without my bike just thinking how much I wanted to have it with me, to struggle uphill for an hour and get to be rewarded by bombing back down.

You're going to have an awesome trip. Bring a camera! For us still stuck in NYC.

Velosopher said...

Rob -- well, what can I say that I didn't already?

NOL, thanks for the encouragement. I'm getting excited. Today's extended forecast put temps in Moab, a week before our arrival, at 70/40, and mostly sunny -- YES!

Sorry 'bout being stuck in NYC. I spent my first 33 years there, then said "Enough!" In fact, moved from there to Northern New Mexico!

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