Sunday, September 28, 2008

the perfect ride

I got up this morning, made my coffee, and settled on the couch with Atlas Shrugged. I've read this before, but when the book came up in a conversation I had earlier this month I decided I wanted to read it again.
I only had about half an hour to read, because I had made plans to ride somewhere with bill this morning. he was scheduled to show up at 7:30, and we weren't sure where we were going to ride.
it started off with my comment last week that I could probably do a century on sunday. bill had wanted to ride the Heber Century on saturday, but I couldn't because of my "mom" commitments: volleyball and soccer games, strategically scheduled at 9, 9:50, and 2:30.
so, I thought, and even suggested out loud, that I could probably ride a hundred miles sunday. and then I thought a little more, and decided that I didn't have to ride a hundred, I didn't even want to ride a hundred.
so my next suggestion was that 60 miles would be plenty.

saturday evening we left it that we'd figure it out this morning.

so bill showed up, we had a cup of coffee, and we threw out different ideas of where we could go. actually, I think bill threw out the ideas and I pulled my upper lip to the side with each suggestion. I drank more coffee. he suggested this, I sneered, he suggested that, I moaned. it was not my best morning.
"what if we go up little cottonwood?"
"oh, I don't really want to do that, I just did that last sunday."
"no, susan, I said LITTLE cottonwood, not big."
"Oh. hmmm."
he sat there, I sat there, and finally I said, "okay."
I have only ridden up little cottonwood once, and (this is my secret confession) it was late last summer, and we only rode up to the first snowbird entry. at that point I think I said, that's enough.
earlier this summer I thought about riding it, and I kept pushing it over into my pile of "last things on earth I want to do." right there with cleaning my gutters, cleaning out my garage, and picking up the dog's droppings before I mow the lawn.
today seemed like the day to do it, as bill's suggestion stared me in the face, so we set out.
"it's only a six mile climb, anyway," I said.
bill said, "hmm, six, yeah, I guess that's about right."
at the time, I thought, gosh, he should know this. now I know why he umm, fudged a little there.
so we rode out to the mouth of the canyon, then headed up. and up. and up. biking buddy bob has always described this climb as "ruthless," I believe. certain other words that come to mind: unforgiving, relentless, painful. but my attitude was, today's the day. and once you've gotten the first mile under your belt, what are you going to do, turn around and give up? no. not if you're me.
you keep going.
and it hurts, but you know it will end, and it's beautiful, and that fuels your legs.
and then when you're a mile or so from snowbird, and your riding partner asks how far you're going, you ~ quite stupidly ~ say, I don't know, how far are we going? and he replies, albion base. you ask, where's that? and he says, the top alta parking lot. and you say, okay. because today's the day.
and then you finally reach the albion base parking lot, and you are revived, because you've made it!
then you see a road that continues up the hillside, past the parking lot, and you say, "you're not going to make me keep going, are you?" to which he answers, no. phew. but now you're in the lead, and you see a brown painted wooden sign by the entrance to that road, and you decide you have to know where the road leads. the answer: this packed dirt road takes one up to albion basin campground. and the road doesn't look too terribly steep, and it's the best kind of dirt road possible, not too full of gravel and rock and sand.
so you ride along, and say, let's just ride up for a while and see.
you know the end of the story: we rode to the albion basin campground, up through vivid orange and deep gold aspen, through dense pine and fragrant foliage, through rocks and gravel and a thankfully pretty hard-packed dirt road.
what I said about last sunday's ride up guardsman holds true again today: at points the vistas left me speechless. I cannot pull the right words from the sky to describe what we were allowed to see from that incredible vantage point.

the ride down the canyon was cold and fast, and just astonishingly beautiful. oh, the canyons we are gifted with. they are stunning, amazing, just beyond words, at least beyond my words.

from the unknown, at 7:30 this morning, the universe conspired to give us the absolute perfect ride, and I could not have planned it one bit better had I tried. perhaps that's the message for me today: let go of the reins and flow along with what happens, and be prepared to delight in the result.

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