Monday, August 18, 2008

why we do this

I heard this story from a cyclist yesterday: he had been on a long ride and his tire blew on his way down emigration canyon. not just the tube, but the tire itself. he was stuck on the side of the road, telling passing cyclists who offered help that he was fine, wondering what to do. (not many cyclists carry spare tires with them.) finally a car stopped, and the people inside offered him a ride. they were from back east, and one of the questions they asked him was about all the cyclists they'd noticed riding up and down the canyon: why were there so many people doing that?
he said it took him a really long time to come up with an answer.

I think I'm there. there is no good answer to the question of why I do this. yesterday was all of these things: great, terrible, amazing, thrilling, painful, exhilarating, exhausting, hot, nauseating, cool, beautiful, stunning, crappy, sucky, and did I say painful?

why can't I just go for a bike ride?

this is why: on the way home, I reached the big mountain summit about 5 pm. I have never been there that late in the day. I looked out to the south (more or less: I have an inferior sense of direction and no internal compass at all), and I would give anything at this moment to be able to recreate my experience for you. I'd ridden about 115 miles by then, and there was not a lot left in me. but I looked out over the hillside that dropped away, and saw an ocean of pine trees, the mountain to my left absolutely covered with them, and far, far below a solid quilt of green tree tops, with just the slightest glimpse of what might be a road. looking straight out I saw mountain top after mountain top, rows of them as my eyes moved south, the ones furthest away in complete silhouette. It was quiet and still, and to soak everything in through my exhaustion and depletion was to be filled with new life.
of course I knew that I had a great downhill in front of me, then just a minor climb up little mountain, then ten more miles of downhill and then I would be HOME. this may have had something to do with my rejuvenation.
but to stand at the top of big mountain, to gaze out over the hills and pines and valley toward the mountain ranges in the distance: this I wish for everyone on earth. I don't know how anyone could stand there, drink it all in, and not have some kind of spiritual epiphany. even a slight one.
and to be able to reach this location by bicycle is an amazing gift that I do not take for granted. I moan, I whine, I fall, but I thank God that I can always get back up, back on my bike, and see his world the way I am able to.

we rode to two reservoirs yesterday: East Canyon and Pineview, and I will end this today with brad's joke ~ not a new one, but definitely a well-used and loved (by me) one ~

what did the fish say when it swam into the concrete wall?


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