Day 2 Silverton to Detroit Lake,OR 58 miles
The lesson today was that pacing can sometimes make all the difference. From the very first mile my legs felt heavy and achy. Sometimes this wears off—nothing more than morning sluggishness. That was not the case today. In fact, after a morning breakfast with the daughter of one of our member families at the church (see the blog on “In our house…”) I faced an overcast morning with a stiff headwind and continually rolling hills. By the time I reached the small town of Stayton to meet with another family I was already showing signs of cramping. My host, Michelle, was asking me if I needed a heating pad or something. As we talked I was drawing all sorts of attention to myself massaging my legs, stretching them out, and probably grimacing between sentences.
I had already set a reservation two days before at the campground at Detroit Lake. I also knew that I had 40 more miles to go, most of it a gradual incline, and legs that said they had already done a good days work already. I have been working on when to allow myself a little grace when I don’t meet my own expectations. As I rode I was beginning to think about whether this was one of those moments. As I passed a couple of motels I just made a mental note of them, in case I had to turn around as the grade continued to increase up to the dam at Detroit Lake.
I knew I was playing with fire, so to speak. I had pushed myself too hard one day on a trip to Yosemite last year and went into a complete physical shut down. I had images of that day in my mind as soldiered on beyond my limits. I considered cutting myself some slack, but I really did want to get to Detroit Lake today. It wasn’t that I had already paid my camp fee of $29 (although I do hate wasting money!). The real reason was that despite teetering on the edge of cramps for the last 40 miles, I knew that if didn’t make it to Detroit Lake I was going to be facing an even more difficult challenge the next day.
From Detroit Lake I will need to climb another 3500 feet in elevation over a 40 mile stretch over Santiam Pass. After Santiam Pass I can coast (well, that term is relative) into Sisters and maybe even on to Redmond before settling into a different rhythm across the high desert of Eastern Oregon. The thought of stretching that 40 mile climb the following day with my 50 pounds of gear even one more mile kept my legs moving.
What I did learn was that with a focus on pacing my body I discovered greater depths than I could have guessed when the day began. I knew my legs had no pick up in them and so I just committed myself to riding in small gears. With every twinge of a slight muscle cramp I stood up on the bike and stretched my legs out delaying the inevitable as long as I could. As the day began I really thought I would have to entertain cutting ten to fifteen miles from my goal. Turns out with lowering my expectations and pacing myself I made my destination. It wasn’t a glorious day of riding. I didn’t conquer the hills today; I did, however, survive them.
As I write I am thinking about one of my church members who had a stroke over ten years ago. Every step is a chore for him (at least that is how it appears to me). He used to tear up the weekend dancing and he can’t do that anymore. Yet, he still sings in the choir even though he can’t negotiate the steps. He goes out to breakfast with the men of the church. He still meets with his fraternal organization. Until recently he even sat on one of our boards at the church. When the hills sometimes appear too imposing and I question my ability to inch my way forward I think about my friend at church. He has to climb mountains every day and he has learned to do it one labored step at a time. I think of him on days like this. Today, it was all about pacing.
OK Santiam Pass…let’s see what you can throw at me tomorrow!