the ocean of pines that I look down upon from the big mountain summit is now decorated with splotches of orange and gold, but you have to look far down to see them, as the higher hillsides are carpeted in pines, row after row after row of dense green pines.
it was peaceful there this morning: during my time out I think I saw more runners and even more hunters than I did cyclists. from little dell reservoir to the top I only saw three cyclists coming down, few cars going either direction, and not a single cyclist going my direction. it was cold, clear, beautiful.
and it only took me 14 miles and about an hour's worth of riding to decide that I really did want to be on the ride I'd chosen.
since last saturday's big ride I have done fairly easy rides, none longer than 22 miles. a large part of me is just thinking "whew, I did it, now I can relax and stop working so hard." then there is that other darn part of me that chides, "use it or lose it!" I've worked so hard to get to this point . . . do I really want to completely back off?
this morning my daughter had a 10 am soccer game, so I carefully planned a ride that would let me sleep in a tad, have a short time on the couch with a cup of coffee, and yet give me a decent workout. so I rode from my house up emigration to the top of big mountain, then back down and over to the soccer field, and I would have been completely on time except that I had to drag myself out the door to begin the ride, as my feet seemed to be entangled in the carpet fibers, and my mind wasn't too eager to direct them to freedom.
an internal dialogue that had started as I was dressing continued throughout the ride, and it was heavily weighted with complaints and doubts until I reached a point 3 1/2 miles from the top of big mountain. which is when I finally heard myself being glad to be where I was, and being almost excited to be climbing to the top.
of course half a mile later I was moaning and groaning again.
last winter my sister-in-law asked me if I experienced something like a runner's high when I was biking. I had to really think about it. I said well, probably when I'm going downhill really fast . . .
so much of my training has been climbing, and I really don't feel much of an endorphin high when I'm climbing a really steep hill. I mostly feel a shortness of breath, some pain, and a desire to just stop. but I do feel that "high" at times, and I must have gotten a big dose at that 3 1/2 mile point this morning.
I know that despite my internal (and sometimes external) grumbling, I love to ride my bike. it's not always easy, and it's not always fun, but it is always gratifying.
big mountain takes my breath away. literally, of course, on the way up. and figuratively, as I pause there at the top, taking it all in: the vastness of the view, the mountains lined up, range after range stretching into the distance, the deep green pines, the deciduous trees in their myriad fall colors.
this morning there were three hunters parked off the side of the road on a switchback near the top. they were using scopes to scrutinize the hillside to the southeast, and these men were silent and focused. and I felt a strange sense of connection with these men. we were involved in completely different tasks, yet were probably having a similar experience of peacefulness, calm, and silent awareness.
it was a quiet and beautiful world this morning at nine am on the top of big mountain.