Every part of my body was screaming…my knees ached, I couldn’t seem to quench my thirst. I just wanted to stop, yet I could not.
As you hike down from the rim of the Grand Canyon, there is a sign which reads, “Going down is optional, hiking up is Mandatory”. The rangers who posted that sign are indeed correct, no one is making you hike down, and no one but you is going to carry you up.
I’ve wanted to hike the Grand Canyon for many, many years. Finally, at age 61, I did it! From Bright Angel point on the south rim there is a well-established trail which drops a mile vertically over a seven-mile path ending at either the Colorado River or an overlook.
We started at 8:30 am with a temperature of 30 degrees, ice and frost covered the ground. I shivered in the deep shadows.
Dropping quickly down off the rim the canyon opens before you. Sheer cliffs of a thousand feet rise up as you snake and zig-zag down the trail. Rock layers change turning from white to red to gray in layer upon layer has you trek backwards in time. Those seven miles are tiring and the pounding on one’s knees with each downhill step is fatiguing. Yet is seems that around every curve of the trail there is something new, a yucca in bloom, a natural amphitheater carved into the rock wall, a play of shades/shadows and light, deer grazing, all engaging, and the switch-backing miles pass by.
Stopping for a brief lunch at an overlook of the mighty Colorado River was the first time that day I had sat down, and I took time to let it all sink in. The stunning scenery, the flowering cactus, the Condor riding the mountain thermals rising over our heads, the sheer size of this massive crack into the earth, bird and dinosaur tracks in a layer of mud now turned into stone. “Grand” doesn’t even begin to cover all the words one wants to use to capture and describe this place.
It was almost 1:00 pm and it was time to begin the climb up and back to the rim. The temperature had risen to 78 and in the full sun, it seemed much warmer. Looking up to the rim, those seven miles were indeed daunting. Yet, just like eating and elephant, one hikes out, one step at a time…At approximately each mile and/or 1000 feet of elevation gain there is a toilet and sun shelter. At the three-mile mark we rested and discovered we were nearly out of water. Even in the relative cool temperatures my husband and I had sucked through more water than expected. Only half a mile to climb and three plus miles to walk, no big deal I thought…just get ‘her done.
If there is one thing that age gives you – it is perspective. Life teaches you that almost always, discomfort is just that, discomfort and it all passes with time.
We passed several people on those last three miles, some younger and certainly complaining loudly of how tired they were. Yet again with all the life experiences I have had, I know you simply place one foot in front of the other and complaining only seems to make things worse.
As we topped out on the rim, an adult Condor swooped just a few feet over our heads, it felt like a congratulatory wave.
I sat on the rim wall resting my throbbing knees while my husband stood in line for post-hike ice cream. I felt happy, proud of the day, and thankful. The gratitude fell into two categories, one of simply being able to make that hike, thankful, I have spent the million hours riding a bike and am strong enough to climb that canyon. The other category was for good gear.
The most important part of hiking is the boots. It your boots hurt; you will not hike. Boots are a lot like bike seats. It is the point of contact between your body and the tool, (seat or boot) that is most important. You must be comfortable on your bike seat to spend hours on a bike. You must be comfortable in your boots to hike 15 miles. My boots cost well over a hundred dollars and worth every penny. Without good boots, I could not have done that hike. In the exact same manner, one must find the best road bike saddle for a long ride.
As a cross-sport person, I believe in good gear. I know that I perform better and get hurt less often when I am using good gear. For example, when I am using rental snow skis, I do not ski as well as when I am on my own skis. I recently rented a vacation home that came with a few bikes for us to use. After a mere five miles, I had turned around for home because my butt hurt. On my Carbon Comfort bike seat, I ride until my legs give out. I cannot stress this point enough. Good Ergonomic gear is worth it. It will let you ride longer in more comfort.
So, what is ergonomic? Just like boots and bike seats, this will change based on your age, sex, height, and weight. As a 20-year-old, I rode a Brooks saddle, at age 42 that very same seat brought tears to my eyes.
As we age, our tissues thin and lose their ability to retain fluids. This is a critical point of finding the most comfortable seat for seniors. The saddle itself must flex to allow our tissues to be nourished. The older we are, the more exposed are nerves, blood vessels and prostrate, (if you have one) are. We must get blood to feed our muscles, organs and joints. If these delicate body parts become compressed, the blood supply gets cut off, our legs or hands become numb. It becomes ever more important to have a handle bar grip that truly fits our hand and comfortable bike grips can be found here. For a seat that can flex to conform to our body’s movements enabling oxygen rich blood to replenish your tissues look here.
Picking out an ergonomic bike part that fits your body can be much like finding that perfect boot. You may have to try several products. Comfortable saddles and seats for road biking can be selected here. For a comfortable mountain bike seat, try a comfortable saddle seat and this video may be very helpful. At RideOutTech.com we always offer a 30-day, “Love It”, comfort guarantee on all our items. It is really simple, love it or send it back for a refund.
RideOut for Comfort and Performance.