My dog's not doing well. At Thanksgiving he had his spleen out due to cancer, but the cancer has spread as the vet said it would. All signs point to him not living much longer at all. The weekend before this past one, I intended to go up to Beech Mountain for a Super-D/ Short Track/ Cross-Country omnium that I was not in the least expecting to do well at. For one thing, I had never done a Super-D before and don't have a full-suspension bike built up. For another thing, the Cross-Country race was going to be ten miles for my category, which isn't even really long enough for me to get warmed up. But still, it sounded like fun and I was psyched for a change of pace and some new trails.
Tiko started seeming gravely unwell on Friday before Beech Mountain, and I started having flashbacks to October last year when my cat had died while I was at a cyclocross race. I didn't want to leave him alone all day. Massive thunderstorms rolled in, and made my decision for me. Instead of racing I lit out for the coast, for a couple days of restful ocean-staring alongside my pup. I didn't even bring a bike.
On the Outer Banks, at Cape Hatteras. He looks okay but took an exceedingly long time to walk the couple-hundred yards from the parking lot to this spot. And dug not a single hole in the sand!
Pamlico Sound, beautiful and deserted. Proof I'm really a cyclist at heart: soon after returning I ordered this map and began cooking up a two-day road ride encircling this sound.
On the coast, and since I've been back, I've been running. The dog's been getting steadily worse. When I did try to get out on the road for a ride, I started worrying about the dog twenty miles out. It wasn't pleasant. I need to stay closer to home for now.
If you want to learn the topography of your city, your county, your Forest, get on a bike. If you want to learn the texture of your neighborhoods, go for a run. Examine architecture, inspect gardens, peruse storefronts. I've gone through periods of fairly serious running in the past, but I'd forgotten just how nice it can be. In five miles of running I get more human interaction than I would in a week of cycling. Friendly hello from a dog walker, nod from a woman reading on her porch, some back-and-forth chatter with kids on bmx bikes, some drunks at the Altamont cheering me on as I pass. Maybe I need this now. I'm a mediocre runner, but it feels good to see the world at this speed again. And I'm tired within an hour, and back at home.
Snake Exing Slow Down.
Someone is maintaining this sign carefully, it is there every time I run past despite storms and winds.
A few years ago, when a serious injury dramatically curtailed my activities for six months, I made a resolution I intend to keep for the rest of my life: Don't be all about one thing. In other words, be well-rounded. Don't be your job, don't be your relationships, don't be your hobbies. Respect every aspect of your complicated, vibrant self, and get personal fulfillment from a variety of sources. Define yourself in a multiplicity of ways. I struggle with this sometimes, but I try to uphold it. I do not feel defined by any one activity.
I am trying hard to keep my responsibilities straight. Most important: staying true to myself and acting in accordance with my ethics. This dog has been an important part of my life for nearly ten years, and allowing him the best possible path out of this world is an important priority for me right now. When I look back on it a year from now, would I regret not getting in two long rides this weekend, or would I regret not spending time with Tiko? The answer is clear. If I ride slow at Wilderness in a few weeks as a result, I can live with that. Dogs are more important than races.