Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Friday Writing for Randos: Keeping it real

{First Friday Writings for Randos - A monthly post that features pieces from other writers that touch some facet of the Randonneuring experience, even if that was not the author's intent. It's stuff that's best read out loud - slowly.} This month it's an excerpt from the blog Gypsy by Trade

Keeping it Real

The HLC 2015 was Lael’s first bikepacking race and only her fourth bike race, after the Fireweed 400 road race across Alaska, a local hill climb up Hatcher’s Pass, and a fifty mile fatbike race in Anchorage called the Frosty Bottom. The Tour Divide is her fifth.

In the entire distance and duration of the Tour Divide, Lael never showered, never slept indoors, and only sat down to one meal, in Pie Town. Even at the Brush Mountain Lodge where she got wrapped up in an almost hour long conversation with the hospitable staff, she asked to take her blueberry pancakes to go. “Are you in a hurry”, asked the woman.

When we arrived in Israel from Sinai this spring, our plan was to follow the HLC track across the country, from south to north, then exit Israel by plane. Instead, we spent three months in Israel, riding circuits along the HLC track, in the Judaean Desert, in the Negev Desert, in the Golan Heights, in the suburban center, and in neighboring Jordan. We stayed long enough so that Lael could participate in the HLC, an event which is the cultural core of the Israeli bikepacking community, much inspired by the Tour Divide. Israelis were astounded at her performance in the event without clipless pedals, without padded shorts or cycling gloves, without a sleeping pad, and without much more than a pack full of sandwiches and a sleeping bag. The cotton t-shirt was also an anomaly in a culture obsessed with cycling kit and equipment. Her rusting steel frame and worn 8-speed drivetrain were incomprehensible to many. But that is what she had, that is what she had ridden for the last nine months through more than a dozen countries. In the week before the HLC we selected this novelty t-shirt from a suburban shopping center along the HLC track near Tiberias. This would be her race jersey for the HLC.

During the Tour Divide, Lael would call every day or two, usually while riding out of town. She was concerned about wasting time. In retrospect, I realized that she was so focused on the race she simply didn’t have the urge to report much to me. The ratio of how much I cared and worried about her to how much she wanted to call me was greatly imbalanced. I won’t hold it against her. We spend a lot of time together. Now that the race is done I’ve begun asking questions, and the answers I receive are incredible. We’ve toured together for over seven years. It thought I knew all of her secrets. But her secret solo dirtbag lifestyle is all her own.

You can read the rest here: Keeping it Real on the Tour

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