About my blog

Welcome to my trail running site. I enjoy being on the trail where I can take in nature and clear my mind. I prefer running in the mountains, but anywhere rural will do. I have completed four 100 mile trail races and many other ultramarathons. I spend countless hours running in the Franklin Mountains in El Paso, TX. I call it "going to church". I'm a member of Team Red, White and Blue. "Enriching the lives of America's veterans."

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Mountain Biking the Borderland

This weekend we are spending time at the BR Ranch in far West Texas. I’m heading out on my mountain bike towards Mt Quitman. Harry, Quasi, Lucy, Sierra, Taz, and Bush (as in W) are my companions today. Bush is the neighbor rancher’s dog and he always accompanies us on our runs out here. Unfortunately I’m not back to running yet. More on that later.

When we start out on our adventure, the dogs take off in a sprint towards the main road. They know the way as well as I do. Once passed the ranch gate I gain some speed. This should be a piece of cake on a bike -- right? I’ve run many miles into these dusty hills in all sorts of weather. This morning it’s nice and cool; the sun has just peaked over the mountains.

I haven’t done much off road biking; I usually just pedal around my neighborhood to give my dogs some exercise since I haven’t been running. I approach a steep short hill and shift into my lowest gear. I can’t get any traction and start to tip over. After several more tries, I get off and walk to the top. Maybe this is going to be harder than I thought.

Once up the hill it is smooth sailing for a while until I reach a much longer hill. Again, I shift to low gear and pedal hard. I have to keep my speed up or I’ll fall over, but my heart is racing. I’m barely able to maintain a snail’s pace and then my throat starts to sting from sucking in the dry air. The road levels off for just a minute only to get steeper as I go. My legs are burning, I’m out of breath and my heart is in overdrive. Finally I make it to the top.

I have a new appreciation for mountain bikers. The view up here on this plateau is spectacular. I can see the Rio Grande Valley, Mexico and, unfortunately, the “Iron Tortilla”, also known as the border fence, that separates two countries. I’m not sure the barrier is very effective. It seems that migrants just walk to where it ends, a few miles left or right, to cross the border. This section is only four miles long. The news recently reported on a nearby area that some call “almost America”. Read article

After riding for another thirty minutes, I stop to hydrate the dogs. They have been chasing rabbits, exploring and sniffing the whole time. Lucy and Harry take turns carrying some of the water in a saddle bag while I carry more in my camelbak. I made sure to bring enough for six dogs and myself. They eagerly lap up every drop and then we are on our way. After 45 minutes of hard riding, we turn around and head back. The sun is in full swing now and the air is quickly warming.

I stop several times to enjoy the view of the hills and mesas. I’m always amazed at the geology of this region. You can see the alternating layers of color in the eroded hills – red, tan, brown. The sand hills have been created by eons of water and wind wearing away at the mountains. White rocky roads now cut through the terrain leading us to where we want to go.

When we arrive back at the BR, the dogs are as tired as I am and hunker down along the side of the adobe house. Each one nabs his own little piece of shade and settles into a deep slumber. We had an awesome ride in one of our least populated counties. Didn’t see a soul all morning and enjoyed the peace and quiet.

L to R: Buddy and Sierra
L to R: Lucy, Taz, and Quasi
L to R: Harry, Bush, and Lucy
In other news, I received my Merrell Trail Glove minimalist shoes and wore them for a week. I really like the way they feel and going back to cushioned shoes was an eye opener. You don’t realize how raised your heel is until you go barefoot or minimalist for a while. If you haven’t tried barefoot or minimalist walking I recommend it as long as you are healthy. I plan to incorporate it into my training after I heal up.

Blue Grosbeak at the feeder

 I started physical therapy this week and feel good about the care I’m getting. I am receiving ultrasound waves with hydrocortisone (phonophoresis) on my heel and arch and some electrotherapy with alternating cold and hot wraps. The therapist works on loosening my muscles and lengthening my tendons to get a better dorsiflexion (big word for how far you can bend your foot). I’m stretching way too much now and hoping for some progress.

See you on the trail.

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