Real life

After the Tour Divide, I felt surprisingly okay. Montana picked me and Alex up in Antelope Wells, and we spent a couple days driving north to Albuquerque where we dropped Alex at the airport. I was sleepy and hungry, but not bone-tired and dead like I thought I'd be.


To break up the long drive, we spent a few days in Colorado - camping at Scott and Eszter's secret Scamp spot by Twin Lakes, then hanging out in Carbondale at a friend's house and catching up with friends there. I even got back on my bike! Risking my life each time, apparently. My dirty break cables rubbed a quarter-inch gash into my carbon fork on the Tour. (Our friend who's done some carbon repair told us to trash the fork immediately. Oops.)

Kevin - always testing new Defiant Pack gear. 

Kevin - always testing new Defiant Pack gear. 

Then we drove back home in the Shark across the great hot plains. That trip always sucks. It especially sucks for two exhausted people in a 43-year-old camper with bad engine insulation and no air conditioning. I got pulled over by a suspicious state cop in Indiana for extreme slowness on the interstate. Our max is 60, even when the speed limit is 80.

Exercising in Kansas. 

Exercising in Kansas. 

We got back to Ohiopyle at 3:00 a.m., fell asleep for a minute, then went back to work.

The past month has been a blur of rafting photos and bike tour guiding. I gave a presentation on the TD, our friend Fred hung up a big congratulations poster in front of the store (thanks Fred!) and the local newspaper even called me up for an article.

June and July saw some crazy rain, with high water almost every day. For the rafting folks, that means every boat needs a guide. (The Youghiogheny is one of the only rivers in the country with "guide assisted" whitewater trips.) Staff gets stretched in all sorts of contortions to hustle all those people down the river. The rain just kept coming.

Big water. 

Big water. 

But now August is here, the rain stopped and the river dropped. Everyone's tired and pissy from a full-on summer.

Ohiopyle is seeing the last hopeful bubble of summer tourism before the school year starts. People waddle around town and eat ice cream cones, dropping trash on the grass. Riverbanks are full of garbage swirling around in eddies. River guides have shaved their beards into mustaches in honor of August.

Now I'm definitely tired.


Maybe because the ground is so wet and soggy this year, but it's been hard to ride fast. My daily mountain bike loops in the park are many minutes slower than last year. The humidity drags me down while I'm slogging through the woods, wiping spider webs off my face. For a couple weeks I couldn't power through anything technical - my first ride on rocky trails was a mess. That's what you get after overtraining every day for a month, I guess.



I'm trying to get it back , but I'm not very patient. So I've started switching up my workouts by running a couple times a week. My college cross country buddy Becky is rallying a group for the Pittsburgh Marathon (ahem, or half marathon) next May, so I've got some incentive to improve my 11-minute mile time.

Another post-Divide thing - stomach issues. Montana had problems right after he finished the race from eating too many cinnamon buns. He ate some yogurt every day for a week and felt better. I mostly felt okay after my Clif Bar and Peanut M&M diet - until recently.

For years I've battled with my guts. My sophomore year of college was particularly awful, when I developed a sudden allergy to gluten. Since then (usually in times of high stress - did you know your stomach and your brain are connected: I've had nagging GI troubles.

After the bike tour I guided in July, I thought I'd gotten food poisoning from a restaurant. I was sick and nauseous for a week. But didn't go away like food poisoning should, and it wasn't giardia either.

But: after the race, I never gave myself time to recover from all the crap I had to eat. Then when I got home I consumed lots of legumes, cheeses, diet soda, alcohol and processed meat. My stomach knew that was wrong and rebelled.

Last time I had serious digestive distress, I went to a nutritionist. She put me on a new-ish diet of foods low in fermentable sugars (i.e. stuff that starts fermenting in your digestive tract, causing all sorts of chaos in the body). The list of things I shouldn't eat is long, including: apples, cheese, beans, fake sweeteners, peanuts, garlic, onions, broccoli... etc. I like all those foods, but I feel much better without them. And Montana's not complaining about eating steak instead of black bean burgers, so everybody wins.

Now we're on a plane to Colorado to guide a mountain bike tour. I'm excited to be back in the dry air. When we get back, August will be nearly over and maybe everyone will be happier.