Saturday, August 9, 2008


I rode for over six hours today, which availed me of numerous writing ideas. by about four hours into it, I had decided I would write about national forests: I was in big cottonwood canyon, gazing at thousands of tall, strong, regal pine trees, and I felt so grateful for our nation's plan to preserve settings like this for all of us.

however, fate stepped in and gave me a new subject, which I have no choice but to write about.

but first, a quick telling of the event that solidified this as a perfect day: riding down big cottonwood, just a couple miles from the bottom, a guy in an orange t-shirt and what looked to be rock-climbing accoutrements (harness? pick axe? bags hanging off his belt? I have no idea what I actually saw in my half-second glance) walking up the opposite side grinned and blew me a huge kiss, using his entire arm to throw it across the road to me. wow! that was even better than the whistles from the truck last week.

back to the story:
riding up big cottonwood with bill, it is our third canyon of the day so it is afternoon and I am on the tired side, and I am hot. bill actually pulls over where a run-off pipe is spurting gorgeous, life-giving cold water and dunks his head underneath. (I keep riding, knowing that he will catch up to me in a minute or two.)
shortly after his pause, the few clouds in the sky settle beneath the sun, and a gentle breeze is wrapping itself around our path. it is remarkably cooler without the sun beating on us, and I am full of gratitude for this gift.
we ride a few more miles, and the clouds hover between us and the sun, and I think to myself how well this has worked out for us: we hit this canyon later in the day than usual, and we could have been riding under the scorching sun the entire time. what luck!
we pass Silver Fork Lodge, and I know we are less than four miles from the top, I can hang in there. and a rain drop sprinkles down and lands on my arm. I smile. how cool is this, to be sprinkled on, have cloud cover on one of august's dog days . . . I am blessed.
another teeny rain drop. I smile. another. another, and another. I keep smiling, and stop keeping count. pretty soon it is what I would call a "light rain," and I am still smiling, with only a tiny little concern for having to ride back down steep pavement that is wet. oh well, I'll just go slowly.
we're almost to Solitude by this time, and the light rain has shown its creativity by throwing some hail in, too. rain, and little white hail globes bouncing off my helmet and skin. okay, this is a treat! and then the rain gets a little more intense. every tenth or twentieth drop is huge, like it has gathered on a big spoon in the sky before dripping down on me.
we could now call this a steady rain, and shortly past Solitude the hail stops, taking away some of the silliness of it all. I am now truly wet, just about everywhere. and I'm still smiling. what a great experience! I listen to a rumble of thunder and think God is just reminding me that you should train under all conditions, as you never know what weather will appear on race day . . .
we've now just about reached Brighton, and with every turn of my crank arm my feet get a new reminder of how cool and fresh rainwater is. each time my feet reach the bottom of the rotation they squish against my nice, white, soaking socks. this rain is serious. it is really coming down. rumbles move across the canyon wall and I wonder about lightning, and biking, and how the two play off each other.
part of any ride up big cottonwood includes the "victory lap" around the loop that takes you to the actual resort. for me it's more about calming my heart rate from "full speed" to "okay I can talk now", and it is something I never skip.
today, I have rain pouring into my helmet, down the back of my top and skort, into my shoes, everywhere, and I tell bill I have to do the loop. good sport that he is, he sets off beside me.

did I mention there are small rivers running down the road? and that there have been for the last mile or so we climbed?

we are perhaps a fourth of the way around the circle when the downpour becomes a deluge. rain is pelting down with twice the intensity it had been, and it bounces so high off the pavement after it lands that my ankles and shoes are hit with two times more water than the rest of me. thirty yards from the end ~ the brighton store ~ all of the sweat on my forehead finally releases it's hold and comes rushing down into my eyes, and I can't see a thing. rain, this rain is a torrent, I am almost blinded, I am dripping as much water as the sky is producing, and I am laughing.

I hope I never forget today's ride, the experience of riding in a deluge, of laughing at the hail, of knowing that I am one of the most fortunate people on this earth. thanks, God, for the great time.

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