Tougher than me

I spent the better part of this weekend with women who are tougher than me.

Today, I went on my club (Title 9) ride with my friend Kim. I’ve been riding for a while, but Kim is a new cyclist. We both joined the club this spring, and when we went to the sign-up, Kim didn’t even own a bike. She’s green.

On today’s ride, a group of the T9ers wanted to head up to Jamestown, which is a climb of 2,000 feet or more. Kim had recently expressed a fear of climbing, which is crazy for a person who telemark skis and hikes so fast it’s what most people would call trail running. As my husband put it: Kim should be worried about ripping the cranks off of her bike, not climbing.

“Kim, how you feeling?” I asked when we regrouped near the bottom of the climb.


“Then let’s go to Jamestown with them.”

Of course, Kim climbed like Marco Pantani in his doping days. She took strong pulls at the front and stayed on the wheels of much more experienced girls for all 12 miles of the ride up the hill. For an encore, she fearlessly dipped through the sandy curves on the downhill.

Did I mention how green she is?

Yesterday was even more wussifying for me. Our band of climbing buddies had taken its first steps up a climber’s trail to a crag in Boulder Canyon when Genny took a spill on a loose rock underfoot. She caught herself with her hands, but when she stood up, she discovered that she’d peeled back most of the skin on the print of one of her fingers.

This is what climbers call a “flapper.” And it was big — the size of a penny or more.

We were still so close to the car that I suggested we go back to it and take a good look at Genny’s flapper. Our friend Jeff took charge of the first aid.

“First we need to irrigate the wound,” Jeff instructed. I pinched my Camelbak above Genny’s finger and winced (wincing again as I write this) as she pulled the flap back so the water would pour right onto it.

“Is this a stitch-it-up situation?” I asked. “It looks like a stitch-it-up situation.”

“I think it’s okay,” Genny said. (Genny’s quiet, calm demeanor is such that if she’d lost the entire finger she might have said the same thing, except that she would have innocently asked whether anyone had ice, too.) I didn’t believe her, but Jeff agreed. Jeremy and I exchanged a look that said he wanted to take her to a doctor, too.

Jeremy produced our first aid kit, and Jeff taped gauze to her finger like a pro. When he was done, Genny’s finger looked like it belonged to Mickey Mouse.

Genny said she wanted to go up to the crag with us and watch us climb. Jeremy and I exchanged looks again. But she was already standing up and adjusting her backpack.

We set up a toprope, and Jeff, Jeremy and I climbed…and then Genny decided to climb, too. She proceeded to climb everything we did with panache. And a Mickey Mouse finger.

That night, Genny called a cousin who is a nurse. She told her to clean under the flap again (wincing) and try to put it back in the right place. It didn’t want to go back quite right, Genny said, so it must have stretched (really wincing now!), either when she did it, or while she was climbing on it.

Now we’re just waiting to see what happens to Genny’s fingerprint. I have a feeling it’s going to heal into the swirled phrase: “Tough Mickey.”