Thursday, July 3, 2014

Massacre on the Cumberland Plateau

"The pain that comes today
Its here; then goes away"
~Whitley, More Than Life

Being someone who has been more cautious in life than reckless due to a distinct aversion to pain I can say that—as a warning mechanism—pain is the perfect limiting function of the human body.

Pain holds me back.  I'm still learning to look at it framed in the soundbite: "pain is just the feeling of weakness leaving your body." 

To be clear, there are different types of pain.  The pain I'm referring to is the fleeting, effort-born kind.  I'm not talking about chronic pain from illness or injury.  And that's the kind of pain I truly want to avoid.  I'm not one of those guys who wants to wear his scars and crooked limbs as badges of honor. 

Tomahawk’s mantra is “No pain, no pain.”  I wish I could back off and adopt that as my mantra too.  Instead I keep pushing right to the edge of reason. 

I wish I worked in the town where I lived.  Wednesday I took a day off to be home with the kids while my wife went to an all-day training.  Before she left for the day I went out on a 26 mile ride.  It was so nice to ride in the daylight before work.  I’d love to have the time to ride, hike or run every day before work.  Maybe someday.

North Fork side of Sizemore Mountain

For a long time I had been itching to go ride Sizemore Mountain.  It’s a mere 12.8 miles from the main bay of the Red River Regional Bikeport.  So why has it taken me over a year to get out there?  It’s an out and back ride.  You can climb up and over Sizemore Mountain, ride up the river along a gravel road to its end, and then you have to backtrack out to the main road.

Sizemore Mountain is also known as Star Gap Ridge which is a major arm of Tunnel Ridge.  The entire ridge terminates at McKinney Cliffs.  Legend has it that a pioneer family took refuge on top of McKinney Cliffs to escape from murderous redskins.

Okay, while that is the story, I’ve always been skeptical of its historical accuracy.  I’ve hiked to the summit of McKinney Cliffs.  It’s not easily defensible.  The “cliffs” aren’t exactly of the battlement type.  And this part of Kentucky was reportedly not used for permanent native settlements during the period of European settlement.  Anyway…

I massacred Sizemore Mountain.  When I came crashing agin the base I had been averaging 18 mph.  The false start didn’t skeer me.  Dropped gears, upped the cadence, and fell against the wall that loomed.  It started out steep.  There was a reprieve before the final short steep pitch.  After the apex I pitched off the backside into North Fork.

At the bottom of the backside the pavement ran out.  The road goes on along the river for a couple of miles, but I was on the sporty-sport bike so I opted to turn right around, reclimb Sizemore from the backside and bomb down the steeper south face.

Sizemore is easier than Sky Bridge Hill.  It’s probably easier than Furnace too.  What’s different is the doubleback climb.  I nabbed nearly a seven hundred feet of climbing within a half hour.  That’s hard to pull off around here without seeking out Cobhill or Drip Rock.

Beans.  I can grow ‘em.  The Lily Bean started bugging me and her mom last week to take her to the park to go running.  She’s also expressed an interest in the elementary cross country team.  We finally got her to the track at the park and she ran/walked a mile.  Beanie has a little to learn, but I think she’s going to make a fine distance runner.

The other day I took off around the park track myself.  Out of the gate I was moving fast.  I kept the pressure on and managed a quick first mile.  I did my best to maintain the effort, and while I was spent after only two miles (and had intended to run three) I pulled off two of my fastest miles in a long time.

Yesterday I was walking our new dog (Radar) out past the garden and happened to notice my bean plants have actual beans on them.  I was stoked to be able to pick enough for a meal for a family of four.  We had a few new potatoes the other night too.  My main regret is that I didn’t plant a whole lot more in the garden this year.  Its been a lot of work, but it’s worked out better than I expected.

Anyway, that’s the update.  There’s definitely more cooking in the Chainring kitchen, so keep your eyes peeled for a new post soon.

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