Sunday, August 16, 2015

To the Mountains (and back)

After my promises not to post for a couple of weeks, I find myself with a bit of a lull for a few hours today, and even though we've only been back from the mountains for less than half a day, I am already struggling with restlessness. Sam will be writing up a report (I'm sure) of the Leadville race soon from his perspective, but I'm fighting my own battle as we work back into life so quickly.

At heart, I am a gypsy who wants to roam the world freely and not be tied to any one location. It's difficult to have a nomadic spirit and be tied to one place. It's also a bit of an oxymoron because although my spirit wants my body to roam most of the time, I find that having a home base is something that brings a certain level of comfort and stability. The older I get, the more challenging I find the idea of giving up a permanent base, whereas a decade or more ago, I would have jumped at the opportunity to live out of a suitcase or on the road (and I did just that for a part of my early 20s).
When we returned from our trip to Leadville, Colorado just a bit ago, I couldn't help but identify with MG's recent thoughts on the sort of emptiness or longing one feels after a big event or travel excursion. It's not always easy to just return to life as it was before departure.

There was a lot of drama leading up to our trip to Leadville, so I was more than ready to get out of town, which I will admit may have played a larger role in my anxiousness to be away from everything for a couple of days. Generally though, when we return home I am prepared to sink back into the things I missed while we were gone.
With our return home, suddenly everything looks dull. Foliage is still green, but it seems less green than in the mountains. The sky appears smog filled, despite the reality of this state and our city having quite clear skies. Our home smells of unfamiliar odors I hadn't noticed before we left and I don't find them pleasant at all. Our streets seem dirty. People come off more rude than usual, as well as being overly ambitious with speed in vehicles. The entire city feels distantly familiar, but oddly unsettling after being away for just over 48 hours.

What struck me as so irregular about these feelings is that our travels were not for an event in which I raced, nor for any great length of time. Yes, I was present for the happenings and crewed, took photos, and chatted with others along the way, but I shouldn't feel such a strange emptiness upon return, I would think.

Still, I can't help but long for the endless hours of being outdoors. It reminds me of childhood camping trips and feeling the hot summer sun on my face all day long, sweating and just enjoying all that the outdoors offer. It was never fun to go back home.

Last year during our visit to Leadville my breathing felt labored and I struggled a bit more than I'd have liked to move about the city, but this year it seemed as though we both just fell right into life at higher altitude. Although I didn't bring proper shoes for hiking, I discovered myself longing for just a couple more days to walk the trails and explore more than I was able to during this short trip.

We are fortunate to live in such close proximity to amazing mountain communities, but it is incredible how different it feels so quickly when leaving the beauty and stillness of the mountains and traveling the relatively short distance back to the base. I've never considered myself a mountain sort of person, but I think I find a tranquility and yet a sense of adventure there that isn't quite as readily available at home.

Last year when we left Leadville, I swore that I would go back to the mountains before summers' end and hike with the dogs, if for no other reason than simply to enjoy what is virtually at our back door.

It never happened.

Life somehow seems to get in the way when we come back from time away to reality. Obligations and necessities that we very often place on ourselves come back into focus and that freedom and pure joy gets lost or forgotten. It seems easier to put it off for another day or another week, and those weeks turn into months in a blink of an eye.

I could promise myself the same thing today that I did about a year ago, but it is likely futile. I'm not such a dreamer to think that this year will be different, or that those same constraints aren't there that are always present.

Still, I can't help but believe that there is a way to find balance in time away and time at home. When routine takes over, it's easy to forget that love of travel, adventure, and seeing new surroundings. I find myself emotional over seemingly silly things until I realize that they aren't "silly" things at all. The little things are often the most important.

Life has begun its return to routine as I ponder ways to allow freedom within obligation. I remind myself that I have far more leeway to do as I like than many others, and daydream about the next time we escape for a short while. I also emphasize to myself that this is part of the beauty of a bicycle. Even within the confines of daily life, riding a bicycle presents opportunities to view life from another angle and to escape the mundane, even if just for a short while.

I hope you've been enjoying little getaways on a bicycle this week, and perhaps even enjoying a bit of time somewhere unexpected and fun as well.


  1. Nice trip! Alas, I'm home based still but had a nice ride around Lake Ella, watching ducks and geese and water features. It was a beautiful day. I sometimes long for the road on my bike, also, but life's obligations and fate often get in the way.

    1. A ride around the lake sounds fantastic. I always enjoy watching the ducks and geese too. Sometimes, these are the types of rides that have the most meaning to me and that I enjoy much more.

      Glad you were able to get out and about a bit. :)

  2. I can really identify with your post here. Home and routine can feel very dull after an enjoyable break. I suspect the strength of your feelings could be related to the fact that your break was quite short. I find that if I go away for, say, three weeks I am usually quite keen to get home at the end of the holiday. Anything shorter than a week leaves me dissatisfied and wanting more!

    1. It was a very short trip. We discussed a bit the possibility of feeling ill-prepared to return home again with such a small stay away, but it was nice nonetheless. I think we just need to take the short trips more often so we appreciate being home again.

      I agree entirely that being away for a long stretch almost always seems to cause me to welcome home again, whereas a very short trip just leaves me wanting more.

  3. I think I know just how you feel about finding freedom within obligation. Part of why bike commuting is so appealing to me is that I feel like I am playing on the way to work and back home. Being in the car feels so grown-up and serious. Driving makes me focused and grumpy: "I've got places to be, darn it; get out of my way." But riding a bike makes me feel silly, and my mind runs all over the place. I happily take a little detour just to see what's down a road I've never followed before, and I wave and smile at people I've never met.

    Bike = Freedom

    1. I think I'm the world's grumpiest driver. It's amazing what I can let go when I'm on a bike and conversely how many small things get under my skin while in the car. I suppose there's something to the reality that when we know there's a limit to how fast we can get somewhere, we are able to just let things go and enjoy the journey.


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