Monday, October 7

Sufficiently Challenged Or Not?

I’m going to do my best to thoroughly confuse the heck out of you.  It was a long surreal weekend (as most of them are) and I think I should try and convey to you my weekend experience.  I mean, you’ve got government Shutdown/Apocalypse, Miley Cyrus on SNL, fall weather, home mountain bike trails, I’m rereading Catching Fire (yeah, I like the Hunger Games novels), rewrapped handlebars on both road bikes, and my bear spraying nephew spent the day with us on Saturday.
First off, I did NOT participate in the Sheltowee Challenge.  I think I will next year if it happens again, and I’ll be all trained up for the 50k version.  That’s my goal regardless of whether or not they actually have the event.  I did however do a trail run on the actual Sheltowee Trace trail north of the suspension bridge over the Red River.  When I run, or do long bike rides, I tend to find a kind of meditative state and it was no different on Saturday morning.  I get lost in my head and find places in my mind that I would otherwise not be able to find.  Unfortunately I rarely can find my way back to them after the exercise is over.
But one thing I realized as I ran: trail running provides the same kind of therapeutic benefits for me as mountain biking.  My assumption is that the type of trail will make a difference.  For some reason that section of the Sheltowee is the type of trail and it gave me the right kind of proprioceptive stimulation.  The difference in trail running and mountain biking is that any kind of running is harder on my body these days.  

Trail running does seem to be less damaging compared to road running; which in some ways seems counter-intuitive, however, I think the weaknesses in my legs currently are joint related while I still maintain significant strength in my legs.  On a nice flat trail, or any kind or trail minus hard descents I think the softer surfaces are better for me, and I can manage the run of the mill impacts of running just fine.  On the road the constant sharp impacts just grind away at my knees and ankles.
I’d given up on the big scheme of thru-biking the Sheltowee, but while out on my run I realized I don’t have to give up on the trail itself, and that maybe someday in years hence I can make a bid at a speed thru-hike/run and due to previously mentioned factors that may satisfy my scheming.  I think I will support the Sheltowee Trace Association in spite of my mountain biking disappointment.  And if you enjoy hiking in the Daniel Boone National Forest I urge you to join the STA yourself.  Advocacy groups like this are necessary but dependent on membership.
As I drove into the Gorge early on Saturday morning I saw more shutdown effects:
I had to do the slow head shake as I took the photo.  I’ll not go on too deep a rant about the USFS and it’s obstructionist ways, but it does rankle that they are so obstructionist when government is up and running and can’t they just let it go while the Shutdown/Apocalypse is in full force?  There were still people camping.  The Gorge seemed as busy as ever; just minus the green trucks.  I was surprised this morning to see on twitter reports of people being ran out of the Gorge by “them.”  I’m assuming “they/them” are the very few law enforcement rangers that are left as the RRG skeleton crew.   It must have been “them” that put up the large printed signs at all the trailheads.
In defense against the indefinite continuation of this Shutdown/Apocalypse and against any future such conflagratious behavior I have begun cutting in a mountain bike trail network on the extended Chainring family holdings.  In close proximity to the Red River Regional Bikeport there are 30 wooded acres currently held by three of my second cousins—sisters—which were originally a part of the larger 200-ish acre Chainring homestead.  I have been granted permission to ride my mountain bike there and for the past few weeks have been in the process of clearing out the old logging roads which make for a fantastic in-situ trail network.  

I’ve been trying to get as much finished prior to the opening of gun season so I can then stay out of the woods, or at least go armed, until later in the winter when I can get back to the task of making my own therapy park in the next holler over. Mountain biking or trail running, either will be fine and even some familial hiking will be possible.  
My first attempt at a climbing turn
The little bear-sprayer hiked in with me the other day and he’s stoked about the reality of trails in the woodsen.  He’s downright rabid about it.   And I’m okay with that.  I have to suppress my own rabidity to keep from chewing off my own legs or the legs of those surrounding me.  I’m rediscovering my love/unhealthy obsession with moving over trails in all modes.
Progress has been steady and surprisingly quick.  I’m hung up on a short section of steep slope where the roads don’t connect and an obstinancy in the form of a fallen tree spanning the narrow holler that must be cut.  My tree-felling skills leave much to be desired so I’ll be calling on the more woodsey folk in my circle for help with that.
Today would be a fantastic day to be in said woods.  The high temperature is only supposed to be in the 60s and fall has finally come in like gangbusters.  This is my favorite time of year.  Cubicle walls cannot defy my enthusiasm for fall.  No, no they cannot.
Oh, and the Sheltowee Challenge?  I finally decided prudence was good.  I didn’t want to jeopardize the Iron Horse next weekend so I opted not to do the SC.  I knew if I lined up with everyone else I’d probably be compelled to run the 50k, or at least run until I wrecked myself beyond all recognition.  That, and Bean had her first cheerleading gig beginning at the same time as the run.  Who starts a 50k trail run at 10am?
Anyway, I still wanted to run and was scheduled to do 8 miles in preparation for the IH, so I got to the (closed) trailhead around 7:30am, did my 8 mile loop incorporating a section of the Sheltowee the runners would be doing a couple of hours later, and had a great run.  If I can stay uninjured I can say with some confidence that I will be doing more trail running in the future.
After the Iron Horse my scheme is to run Rough Trail and the Swift Camp Creek Trail end to end around New Year’s.  That’s 14-16 miles of tough trail.  I’m looking forward to it.
Red River along the Sheltowee Connector Trail below Chimney Top Rock

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