I wake up, roll over, snuggle back into my warm fluffy sleeping bag. Eventually I convince myself to wiggle out into the chilly morning, and I pack myself up and head down the road towards the small town of Detroit. I want some eggs and coffee! It’s all downhill to town — my last downhill for miles and miles, until the top of Santiam Pass.
I stop at a diner and get a huge cup of decaf coffee with cream and sugar, hashbrowns, toast, and two eggs over easy. I eat it all, and then I walk my bike a block down the road and sit on a log bench in the sun in front of a coffeeshop to check my email and check in with friends and family and, let’s be real, procrastinate on starting the long, long climb up to the pass.
My knee is still hurting this morning. Googling my symptoms turns up a couple possible diagnoses: patellofemoral pain syndrome or quadriceps tendinitis. Both are overuse injuries that can be made worse by weak or tight quads. Hurray!
Then I get an email from the woman who’s living in my apartment. I got two subletters for the time I’m traveling; one lived there and took care of my cats through August, and this woman moved in at the start of Reed’s fall semester (she’s a current student). Well, it turns out she’s allergic to cats. Between this news and my knee, I feel pretty defeated. Is this a sign? Should I go back home and start my next life? That’s sort of how I’m thinking about it: life, part n. The part in which I get my shit together.
I get a cinnamon roll at the coffeeshop and call my mom. I need to take care of my cats and I need to take care of myself. I want to be running and hiking and climbing and biking as much as possible for as long as possible, so I don’t want to be injured. And maybe I need to get on the road (the metaphorical road, instead of the actual one I’m on) towards building the life I’ve been writing about in my little red notebook.
Here’s the plan I come up with. I’m a day or two from Bend, which is a part of the world I like a lot. There’s lots of great hiking and climbing to do near there, and plenty of places to camp. Backup just bought a car and is itching for a roadtrip. He’s suggested coming down to meet me on the road. So, I tell him, yeah, come on down. We can hang out and camp and adventure for a few days in central Oregon, and then he can drive me home.
So, that’s it. I get on my bike and roll out towards my last-hurrah climb. Cars and trucks rush past me. The shoulder narrows to maybe eighteen inches. And then I’m going uphill. My knee hurts. 37 miles of this ahead of me to the top of Santiam Pass. I stop. I turn around. Why am I bothering? Deep breath:
I pedal back into town and sit down in front of the coffeeshop again. I ask Backup to come pick me up here in Detroit. I pass the afternoon by reading, writing, and people-watching, and when Backup shows up in his shiny new car, we drive up the road to a campground, make dinner, and drink a few beers.