Friday, June 25, 2010
Pushing the Limits
An Amazing Start
The night before my departure into the unknown I went to sleep at 9 PM. My acupuncturist says that each hour of sleep before Midnight is worth two hours after Midnight because the Yin force of rest is reaching its peak, and I found this to be quite true, especially that hour between 11 and 12. So I woke up excited to go and saw that it was light outside, but it was just the illumination of a street light. I checked the clock and it was only 1 AM. So effectively I had already had 7 hours sleep! Now I had to lie there waiting till dawn broke. I tried to catch some more Z's but my brain was racing with excitement about the upcoming adventure. My brother Marc told me that 65 miles in a day would be too much, but I knew I could do it if I willed myself to.
The problem with that theory is that I've actually had little time to train and prepare for such a grueling ride beyond visualization. I had ridden a mile here and mile there but without a full load. I basically loaded my bike down on the night before I rode to Loveland, 31 miles. That ride hurt a lot, but I thought I had worked through the aches and pains of a sore bum and was ready to go. I was terribly mistaken!
The short ride to Fort Collins was about 7 miles where I spent some time with my friends form high school, Melissa, Jim, and their daughter, who took a liking to me on the playground chasing her around the rocks and play structure. I even walked on my hands for her and haven't done that for a while. One of my core intentions for this journey is to really get back into my body and spending time in nature. I didn't realize that this trip would make me all too familiar with my body through ache!
So I woke up supercharged from spending time in Fort Collins hanging at the Alley Cat local coffee shop and enjoy the tasty Bann Thai food. I was recharged and ready to ride with the wind again. I knew it was going to be a tough day, and that I might not make it to Melissa's friend's house on the outskirts of Laramie, but I was determined to give it my all.
The day started off with great energy and omens like the street signs "Constellation" and "Uranus" for an astrologer on a bike. Uranus was the old Greek Sky Father, creator of the starry heavens, the constellations, so that seemed appropriate. I asked myself, "Which came first the Constellations (star groups) or the Sky Father, and decided that the Uranus archetype working from the archetypal dimension that glues the Spiritual Realm to the Emotional, Mental and Physical Realms had to precede the actual creation of stars. The Greeks were right!
I started off the day with great energy, despite the interruption in my sleep period, and rode quickly through the ten miles of Fort Collins passing the University. I saw the football team out there doing conditioning drills in shorts and t-shirts and fondly remembered the days when football training was the center of my outward existence. Such a long time ago, and so unimportant now. But the dedication to the sport, to training, to the team were great lessons for life. But for now, it was me and my new TREK bike called Magellan.
I headed up through the foothills often stopping to take pictures to upload to Facebook. I found the slope of the hills starting to grow and my legs were burning and enjoying the workout. My cyclist brother said that I needed to constantly sip water so that I didn't become dehydrated so I kept on gulping down water with a lime-flavored electrolyte wafer dissolved in it. I felt fine. I'm only carrying two water bottles with a back up third in my saddle bags for camping. The problem with that practice is that, while it is lighter, filling up can be a problem when you find yourself in isolated territory. And this ride was definitely through isolation.
I ran out of water just as I came across an old boarded up cafe as I had planned. But I didn't plan on it being closed! I had to beg for water from the post office clerk who was happy to help. I began worrying about the journey ahead, seeing how that was supposedly the last stop before Laramie. I decided to practice faith and strike out up the next grueling hill. The hills kept growing in slope and distance and my legs were killing me, my butt was in excruciating pain from the seat, and my ams were getting sunburned but I didn't even realize it! I was just struggling to make it to the next apex, only to find another apex in the distance. Uphill, Uphill, Uphill...that was the name of this game.
I ran out of water again at Virginia Dale, almost to the state line, and thought about stooping at an Abbey to ask the sisters for a drink but ended up stopping at an isolated house hoping there wasn't a big mean dog waiting. I yelled from the road and got the attention of the lady who dwelled there and asked her if she could help me out with some water. Not only did she help me, she gave me an extra water bottle filled with water and lemon juice! I was ecstatic! She was my savior in that moment. If she was Christina Jesus would be proud, when I was thirsty she gave me water. I asked if I was near the summit of the road and she basically said I still had a long way to go. Oh no!
Just when I thought my body couldn't feel more exhausted, my lungs began to hurt from the shift in altitude. I hadn't realized that I had ascended 3000 feet, and the oxygen levels in the air had gone down. So now my lungs were hurting bad, my legs were burned past their limit, my arms and legs were burnt, and my head was spinning. I kept looking on the roadside for hidden potential camping sites. Then I saw it:
A Rest Area!
I have never in my life been so happy to pull into a rest area until now. I rolled my bike past the bathrooms up this small hill to a set of picnic tables under a sun shelter. My body was done! I called my energy healer friends and asked them for some distance healing and they went to work. I rolled out my Thermarest mat on one of the tables and figured I'd snooze for a few hours before deciding to either camp or go on. After my nap I felt slightly recharged. I went to the bathroom and splashed some water on my face. The healings had worked, because I felt amazing suddenly. I decided to brew my first cup of Yogi Green Tea with Triple Echinacea to help my immune system adjust to all this exercise and altitude.
My Yogi teabag had a message printed on the little piece of paper attached to the string. "You must live for something higher, bigger, and better than you." That got me thinking. The purpose of my journey was to share astrology with whoever I met that showed even a passing interest, in addition to other purposes, such as Locational Independence and experiencing the world through travel. I remembered the people asking Forrest Gump why he was running, what his "CAUSE" was, world peace, hunger, etc, and he just said he felt like running.
I thought about the Oil Spill in the Gulf and realized we already had the same crisis before the spill as I rode down the road. It's just been hidden from view because it's so spread out. The most common things you see off the side of the road are dead animals about every mile, and rubber. Dead birds are the most common behind snake skins and other gruesome sights. We live in the land of rubber and death already! And it doesn't look like we're even remotely ready to change our ways as a culture as we keep glorifying the Oil resource over truthfully developing new modes of harnessing energy. If only we had an extension cord to plug into the sun!
But I didn't want my cause to be about suffering animals or anti-car platforms. I spent too many years in secret hatred of cars as a bicyclist. After owning and operating a vehicle this past four years, I have compassion for everyone who owns a car. We are slaves to our automobile culture. I'd rather live in a town where I can walk or bike to everything and save my money for creative projects. Cars just eat through your wallet! They always need repairs, fuel, insurance, not to mention the monthly payment. I've come to the realization in my life that nothing can justify that sacrifice of resources just for the convenience of puttering down the freeway full of angry drivers who are trying to text someone at the same time. We've gone batty as a culture trying to accelerate ourselves to be effective. We just need to slow down and take a deep breathe a rethink our priorities for being here.
At this point I see my creative projects, my son, and possibly future love and the experience of other cultures the only true motivating reasons to continue my existence on this planet. I've never been suicidal or anything, I love life and will live it to the fullest extent of the cosmic laws! However, I see what we're doing and I'm disappointed in humanity. Most folks are good people with loving hearts and concerned for their fellow brother and sister. I just think we get into trouble with our tacit mental and emotion ascents to a runaway lifestyle that we are simply indoctrinated into and that pushes various philosophies and religions on us which divide more than unify. Religious differences has been one of the greatest sources of heated conflict throughout history, spurring religious war after religious war. This seems ironic given that most religions preach the love of your neighbor, and some include your enemies in that field of love.
But I digress. I guess my cause is two-fold. The first cause is astrology. Astrology needs a champion after years of being downtrodden by the educated elite whether of scientific or religious persuasion. Why isn't astrology taught in universities, even as a social/anthropological study? It has been systematically repressed and driven out by those who misunderstand or misinterpret it. That's going to change with the rise of the Internet and global free access to your astrological birth chart. I think the religions of the Aquarian Age will be influenced by the magnificence of the heavens and the direct connection to inspiration drawn from the cosmic consciousness that pervades the Universe. Everyone I encounter, including the so-called skeptics, are absolutely amazed by even a brief interpretation of their character an the seasons of the soul revealed through astrology. It's as if a whole new universe with new implications opens up. There is magic after all and it's contained in the field of consciousness!
So I woke up from my nap and pondering such questions and wondered if I should press on. I put on my red long-sleeve shirt to protect my arms from further burning. I went to the bathrooms again and this traveler told me that it wasn't to much further to the summit, and that after that it would be downhill. That got me excited, so I packed up and pointed the bike toward another steep hill! The guy was way wrong! The hill he was talking about only came after many more smaller hills and my legs were already shot. I got to the state border and clicked a quick picture of the "Welcome to Wyoming" sign and trudged on. The Sun was making its descent on the Western horizon and I needed to reach that supposed downhill stretch. A telephone company man stopped to see if I had enough water and told me that the distant hill ahead was the last one before the downslope. I would believe it when I saw it!
I reached the hill and indeed he was correct. I started my gradual ascent and enjoyed the breeze, stopping only once at this ancient general store where a toothless old man sold me three bottles of delicious juice. As the Sun crept closer toward the horizon I decided it was on, between me and the Sun. Who would get to their destination first? I pedaled like a madman through the worst pain ever in my rear. My legs burned and I was ready to fall off the bike, but my spirit soared with the downhill slope. I just needed to reach the cement factory where my hosts said to turn at, then I'd be there.
My cell phone died and I couldn't get my charger plugged into it because when I stopped about a hundred mosquitos swarmed me. I passed a fellow cyclist with a flat tire and asked if he needed help, but he was fine save the mosquitos. It turns out that Wyoming has experienced a lot of rain this year, which has left an overabundance of standing water where the mosquitos love to breed. So now, I couldn't call my hosts to tell them I was going to make it and despite being more exhausted than I've ever been in my life, I couldn't stop for even a second as mosquitos were swarming around me! To make matters worse, when I reached the Cement plant, I realized that there house was another ten miles or so out into the country down bumpy dirt roads! And the Sun had touched the rim of the mountains! I wanted to panic, but I held myself together. At that point I was too spent to cry or freak out, so I just kept pedaling.
Luckily, as the Sun went down to defeat me the wind picked up and I could walk the bike without too many mosquitos attacking me. I pushed on riding alternating with pushing the heavy bike. The Gibbous Moon in Sagittarius rose as a beacon to light my path, illuminating the forlorn dirt path and I thought about just camping in a ditch after almost falling into it several times, slipping on the loose rocks and dirt clods. This was hell on earth, but I couldn't even engage my philosophical brain. All I could do was put one foot in front of the other and push, or jump back on the bike and pedal till my legs screamed in agony inside and pray no farm dogs would attack me. Despite all that, I had forgotten the last part of the directions, and my head was spinning in delirium. Which way to go? I stopped and asked a rancher if he knew the Rapsons, my hosts. He said just go about two more miles to the cattle gate, push the button to open the gate and then go about two more miles and its at the top of the hill on the left. Great! I almost collapsed going back down his steep driveway where I had left the bike at the bottom.
I wanted to scream! The heroic superhero complex I live with had been defeated at last. I felt human and weak. I felt like giving up and shipping my bike to my friend's house in Missoula and just taking a bus, my old favorite form of travel. After almost collapsing four more times, I turned my bike light on and prayed to Venus shining brightly behind me to let them see me. They did, as I saw the lights inside their house flashing to me that I had the right place. I barely made it up the rocky driveway with the bike. ANd I could barely talk to them as they guided me into their beautiful house after parking my bike in the garage.
They went to bed and I took a long hot shower, even though I could barely stand up. I crawled into bed and recharged my phone and called the people who were concerned about me like Mom and Dad and my friend Melissa. I had made it! I couldn't believe it. I pulled out some Thai Curry noodle soup packets and boiled some water, sipping hot spicy soup in bed. My lungs felt terrible, cringing within like they were clawing at my ribcage. In seconds after I downed the soup, I was asleep and wasn't quite sure I'd wake up again.
I had left at 7 AM and arrived at about 9:30 PM, 14 hours of pain including the two hour rest. I was impressed by my courage to press on and make my destination but angry for being so stupid. Why fight the river? I should have just camped at the rest area, but I'm too Aquarian stubborn, especially when I get an idea in my head. It might take me a few more days to recuperate here in Laramie. I'm almost afraid to get back on the bike as my rear and the seat are not on good terms this instant. It hurts just to sit here in the coffee shop chair. At least it's padded! I met a lawyer named Charles just now who has cycled across the country and we exchanged emails and information. He told me to keep at it and said it takes about a week of getting used to. After that I will be fine. That was comforting. The Universe moves in mysterious ways, and I'm committed to following its textures!