Friday, September 30, 2016

Between the Dots

Pre-Ride Thought Experiment #81: Once upon a time there was a German philosopher named Georg W.F. Hegel who promoted the notion that the only true picture of life comes from the outside looking in. Amongst the pretentious crowd it may be referred to as Hegelian Absolutism.  According to this view, life unfolds from one age to the next, where one trend inspires the next (anti)trend, which begets the next as a mix of that before it, and so-on.  It's a constant process of problem>reaction>solution, but that catch is that it that there's nothing you or I can do about it.  It will simply unfold, and all we may do to process it, according to this view, is to look down (or in) from afar and enjoy the ride, calmly interpreting and accepting our role in it.  To me it sounds like a fairly passive view on life, just connecting the dots from the scatter, with not much navigating in between.  

Before going further, I should establish a context, which involves a process of imagination: reading a map (preferably a paper one), charting a route, and then executing that route.  This is without fail one of my favorite things to do, whether it is planning a wild ride across the land, charting out a race season, or, more figuratively, navigating the scatter of life and the "career path."  

Sure, since Hegel’s ideas, several heavy thinkers came up with this thing called existentialism to address this issue. But in my experience, the outside-looking-in versus being-in is still a puzzle that ought to be recognized.  It crops up in so many moments of modern life, like blankly guzzling through social media feed to find your place amongst the day's trend, which most of the time is like opening the fridge to look at the snacks when you aren’t actually hungry.  It’s like taking a pause from going dot-to-dot along the status quo, maybe thinking about going in between on a more customized path, but never actually going...which akin to looking at that map of back roads and trails, contemplating the whole presentation of paths and topo lines, place names, borders and histories, then rolling it up and setting it back on the shelf from the comfy perch on the proverbial armchair (says the Armchair Philosopher!). This is certainly a valid way to contemplate the world, but I'm not sure how I feel about it leaving room for charting adventures using said map, for example.  Shouldn’t we who are able do more traveling between the dots from time to time, and be so daft as to think we can determine our own destinies!?

Inside looking way out! The end (almost) of a 24-mile through-run of the Enchantments in the North Cascades, circa late-July.  An aggressive shake-off of the race season, to say the least.  I could barely walk for three days afterwards. (Photo by: Sarah Paxson)
Anyway, back to Herr. Hegel; I appreciate his idea not because I agree with it (or fully understand it), but because it got me thinking about how I manage my own outside-looking-in versus being in. After all, what does the former say for really experiencing the things that make our own worlds go round?  To hell with being steamrolled by the unfolding of time. How about going between the dots and carving out a bit more of our own time?  Outside-looking-in seems like a good reciprocal to keep in mind so that you are spurred to keep doing things while still reflecting on where you've come from.

In any case, I digress.  This is just a drawn out preamble to sharing a few superficial examples of my adventures between the dots over the last season.  These are the types of things that reassure me when I face the angst about navigating the scatter.  

Step-by-step goes the bear (Photo: Spencer Paxson)

Charting a 40-mile trek through the Chugach Mountains in Alaska (Photo by: Sarah Paxson)
Connecting the dots on some fun statistics: 

Since January I have spent about 7% of my time training on bicycle, excluding commutes and other non-training rides. That's about 34,500 minutes, or 625 hours. 

At an average power output of 200 watts, that equates to approximately 128 kilowatt hours, or enough to charge my iPhone, Macbook, and Garmin every day for an entire year, plus some extra to run the cable modem for the internet.  That is also enough energy to have kept my house running for about half a month.

Based on an average cadence of 83 revolutions per minute, my legs have done 3.1 million circles.

My heart rate during bike training has averaged 133 beats per minute.  That's nearly 5 million heartbeats.

My biggest day on the bike was 102 miles, 14.5 hours, and 29,064 feet of climbing. 

Stats from a big vision-quest - a capstone effort to honor the effort of an Olympic campaign. (Graphic by: Spencer Paxson)

The outcome of a recent map-charting - 280 miles with dear friends, riding through some amazing parts of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest around Randle, Trout Lake, Mt. Adams, Underwood, and Indian Heaven. (Graphic by: Spencer Paxson, Google Earth Pro)

Why let the washed out roads stop you from getting home over the old mountain pass and spending a weekend with friends and family?  Ride the bike! Encountering a break in the road on a 3-day backcountry tour through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, about 12-miles outside of Randle, WA. (Photo by: Spencer Paxson)

Why waste time driving around the lake to the trailhead when you can paddle?  A great late-summer evening out across Lake Whatcom to Stewart Mountain. (Graphic by: Spencer Paxson)
An aggressive day - testing ground for the Kona Private Jake gravel grinding capabilities, followed by testing the mental fortitude on the Class 4 scramble to the top of Twin Sister...then riding back for beers and burgers to calm the nerves, of course! (Graphic by: Spencer Paxson)

Rewind to the season...
Rewind the the beginning of the season: Careening through the tussocks on the foothills of the New Zealand Southern Alps - an amazing start to the season at the first inaugural Pioneer Stage Race in late January: 530km and 7 days from Christchurch to Queenstown. (Photo by: Duncan Philpott)

Following the dots through more Southern Alps (Photo by: Duncan Philpott)

A new training partner and friend extraordinaire - Convinced Stephen Ettinger to move in with Sarah and me for the season - we'd spend the rest of the year putting forth our best efforts on the international race circuit, training at home and traveling the globe on a memorable Olympic crusade. (Photo by: Joe Lawwill)

Testing-testing-testing the newly redesigned Hei Hei platform - it proved to be the worthiest of steeds for hundreds of hours and thousands of miles across three continents and over seven countries.
A thing of beauty (Photo by: Patrick Means)

Test pass (Photo by: Caleb Smith)
Chucking it for all I was worth at the 2016 World Cup season opener in Cairns, Australia, the first big stop on my globetrotting campaign for Rio, which spanned three continents and seven countires from March to June. (Photo by: Jason Stevens) 

Some podium finishes along the way - on home soil, that is - here in the top-5 at one of the US Cup Series events in Bonelli, CA (Photo by: Erin Huck)
Bringing the thunder to Europe - here a steep, muddy chute at the La Bresse World Cup on Julien Absalon's home court.  (Photo by: Rob Jones/Canadian Cyclist)

Feeling the thunder of the German crowd while going cross-eyed up the steep climbs at the Albstadt World Cup. (Photo by: Rob Jones/Canadian Cyclist)
A reunion of Kona dirtbags back home - bringing back the Mt. Hood SkiBowl action, which is where it all started it all for me. (Graphic by: Kona Bicycles)

Some more Wild-West respite at the 2016 Blitz-to-Barrel, Bend, OR (Photo by: Tina Brubeck)

Tuning back up on home soil before the last trip overseas - pinning it at the Carson City Off Road, the final of the 2016 Epic Rides Trilogy (Photo by: Joe Lawwill)
Putting a cap on my 6-year World Cup crusade with Team USA at the 2016 XC World Championships in Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic, battling to a lead-lap finish in front of some 50,000 frothing fans. (Photo by: Rob Jones/Canadian Cyclist)

Less than 48 hours after finishing World Champs in central Europe, found myself deep in the misty woods of the British Columbia Coast, battling friend and foe at the 10th Annual BC Bike Race, a 7-day stage race.  For the sake of consistency, I finished Bridesmaid (2nd) for the 4th consecutive year. (Photo by: Dave Silver)

...and two days after finishing BC Bike Race, we blasted off the line at US National Championships in Mammoth, CA.  Given preceding two weeks, from World Champs in Europe, to 7 days at BC Bike Race, I surprised myself with a 7th place finish. (Photo by: Diane Paxson)

Navigating the scattered bergs on Nizina Lake, on the honeymoon trip to Wrangell Mountains, AK in late August. (Photo by: Spencer Paxson)

Navigating the ice on the Tana Lobe, Chugach Mtns., AK (Photo by: Sarah Paxson
Approaching an ancient icefield, like a marooned space ship on another planet. Chugach Range, AK (Photo by: Sarah Paxson)
Back to the back roads back home, somewhere Gobbler's Knob in Skamania County...(Photo by: Spencer Paxson)
Home. Mt. Adams, Trout Lake, WA (Photo by: Elliott Sherburne)
Taking it all in. Being there to be there. Chugach, AK. (Photo by: Spencer Paxson)

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