The Joshua Tree Epilogue

It’s been 6 months since my trip to Joshua Tree National Park.

Life is very different from what it was before the trip. Even though it looked like I transitioned back into the hum drum pretty well, I didn’t. I don’t think anyone really does after adventures like that. It’s as if your brain chemistry changes. Nothing is the same ever again.

There is the eternal itch to pack up my bicycle and just ride.

To anywhere.

To nowhere.

To oblivion and back with a detour through hell just for shits and giggles.

To ditch everything I’ve built here in the Denver/Boulder area and just disappear on the open road. As much as I love to ride, it’s hard now to get on the beer bike to commute or get groceries because all I want to do when I start peddling, is to keep going.

When I first started biking (instead of buying a car) in March of 2011, it was just a means to and end. To get somewhere I needed to be. To not spend money on something I didn’t need and saving my carbon foot print for flights to far off destinations. It was practical, logical, and reasonable. Never did I think I would love biking, that it would become so intertwined with my contentment. To go longer than a couple of days without biking, I would become mean, moody, and hate the world.

All because of a bicycle.

The beer bike has become more than just a piece of equipment or a means of transport. It’s a symbol of the the ideas I love most in life. Simplicity, hard work, freedom, perseverance, and as the Taoists say, being the uncarved block, or pu.

In Joshua Tree, I found what so many search for. The stillness of inner peace and the contentment of love and being one with the universe. Every time I get on my bike, I feel it all over again. That’s now why I ride and why I will never stop.

To anywhere and nowhere and all points in between, it’s just me and my bicycle.

 IMG_4574.JPG

Ghosts, Ships, and Aliens, OH MY!

“You’re going where? Boy, you sure are trying to figure something out aren’t you?”

That’s what my good friend Drew said to me upon hearing that I was biking to Joshua Tree National Park. If anyone else said that, I would just shrug it off. Coming from Drew…I had to know what he was thinking.

“You’re going to a place that has a very high amount of paranormal activity. You may want to check that out (as he giggles).”

Joshua Tree has been on my list for years. I’m excited to finally go.

“I’m not surprised. Of course you pick a place that has a lot of energy. And of course you’re going for your 38th birthday.”

But…but…

As much as I appreciate all the intel I’ve been getting from people, there’s a part of me that’s getting scared. Besides the insane amount of elevation that I’ll be trying to bike up with probably an extra 30 – 40 lbs of camping weight, there’s a wind farm on the southern edge of the park. Uphill, wind, and extra weight. All the things I love most! Note: sarcasm.

To top that, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY! I had no clue. Apparently there is an amazing amount of ghosts, aliens, and other odd things going on in the Mojave Desert. Like rocks that mysteriously move. Or how about a Spanish ship from the 1600’s that is buried somewhere out there with a poop ton of pearls. Or the countless stories of people seeing UFOs. Or chupacabras. Or a ghost of an old man in clothes from the turn of the 20th century riding his bike down the middle of the road. If the ride didn’t make me nervous enough, the idea that I’ll be camping with ghosts and aliens sure does.

I could have a completely uncomplicated, easy trip. I could be scared poopless every night in my tent waiting for sunrise. I could be abducted by aliens and found wandering naked on the roadside talking about radiators and space travel. Wait a second…naw…that was just a night of too much gin. Hee hee!

Seriously though, I can be quite the scaredy cat. Horror movies are not on my list of things to watch because they screw with my head. The last time I watched one was 10 years ago. It was the Ring. I couldn’t walk by a tv or computer screen without getting freaked out for months. Forget about sitting in front of one. It made working in an accounting department very hard. (Yes, I used to be an accounting clerk in another life.)

This trip keeps getting more and more interesting. I have a feeling that I might find myself being super tight with the ranger service. They’ll let scared, lone, cute cyclists stay in the their bunk house, right?

Yeah…probably not.

Joshua Tree National Park: Am I Crazy?

Where I came up with this idea, I’m not sure. Joshua Tree National Park has been on my list of places to visit for quite a few years. On Thursday, I had the bright idea that I should make it a point to visit this stunning ecosystem for my birthday at the end of February. Not just visit though. To bike it.

Apparently I'm trying to kill myself.

Apparently I’m trying to kill myself.

Yep, you read that correctly, to bike my scrawny ass about 35 miles to the park, bike around to all the cool shit in the park, and then bike back. The “back” would be back to Palm Springs.

As you can see from the trip I made in MapMyRide, I might have finally bitten off more than I can chew. At about mile 21 I’ll be at 4128 feet of elevation. That is a steep climb from 485 feet where I start. For a woman who hates biking hills, this looks like a trip from hell. I complain about biking up the hill on 16th Ave going up Capitol Hill in Denver. That’s only 2 blocks. And I’m going to tackle this behemoth?

I must be crazy.

I apparently love to abuse myself for some strange reason. The first time I did any sort of long distance was August 2012. I was still healing from a broken sternum and had been on my bicycle for only 5 days when I decided to bike from Boulder to Longmont for a training. Four days of biking about 34 miles round trip. I ended up doing it only 3 days and then a friend loaned me his car. The mornings were wonderful for biking. The crisp early morning air…the lack of cars on the Diagonal Highway…some good tunes…the rising sun…it was heaven. The evening was hellish. Hot with cars and busses zipping past me and a head wind that never gave up. By the end of day 3 my legs were jello. It did something to me that I wasn’t expecting.

I fell in love with distance cycling.

Up until that point, I had done shorts. Six miles here. Three miles there. A 1.5 mile bike sprint to my office. Maybe even a 10-15 mile ride but broken up between stops at breweries. There were days that I could total my riding miles to 20 but never were they in one shot.

I have a feeling once I do this trip, that biking will never be the same for me.

If you ask me, I’ll never say I’m a cyclist. Even though I’m investing in my first clipless pedals and shoes(of which I NEVER thought I’d do, just wait for the video of me biffing for the first time trying to use them), in my mind I just love to ride bikes. Cyclists are those people who wear spandex and have bikes that cost more than the car I used to own but weight less than my pint of beer. They look so uncomfortable and stuffy. I wear summer dresses or jeans when I bike and I definitely do not go fast. The most I’ve ever paid for a bike was $20. The beer bike was found in a dumpster in Boulder by a friend. That’s the bike for this trip.

For a Specialized that was totally trashed out and resurrected, all the times I was told by hardcore riders that I was crazy for taking it on long rides, and bike mechanics looking at me, the bike, and then me again and saying “you did what on this?”, I don’t think I could take a different bike on this suicide mission. She’s been good to me and I couldn’t think of a better companion. She’ll also get the fame of surviving this trip, which I’m sure will surprise a lot of people.

Since this is a multi-day trip with camping, hiking, and what ever other mischief I can get into, I’m going to have to add panniers to my baby. I’ve been eyeing these sassy bitches:

Ultra-lite

At only 14 ounces, they’ll give me a fighting chance of not dying from extra weight on my way there. That is, so long as I don’t die from lack of water. I’m going to have to tote at least a gallon to get there.

Why am I doing this again? Oh yeah…because I’m crazy and I like to bike.

My dad is going to kill me if I die on this one.