the title of today's entry could have a subtitle: Things That Keep Me From Cycling.
summer is such a delicious season, full of sunshine, warmth, and time. what it lacks is snow and team sports, and as such, it's just the perfect season for my cycling self.
fall, spring, and winter, on the other hand, are full of those TTKMFC: primarily, my children's sports.
this morning I spent 2 hours watching my daughters play volleyball. which was fine, as it was windy and cold and wet.
this afternoon, I spent an hour and a half sitting outside in the wind and wet (a little mix of sleet, rain, and snow-ish stuff) and cold, watching one of my daughter's soccer games.
some days obviously contain more than one thing from the TTKMFC list.
but the soccer game was played at a field directly west of the mouth of millcreek canyon, which ties nicely into my story about yesterday's ride . . .
the temperature dropped about 10 degrees yesterday, leaving our high in the city about 50 degrees. which is tolerable riding weather, especially when the sun is shining down on us. since the weekend weather prediction was pretty gloomy, it made sense to get a good friday ride in. and since the season is winding down pretty quickly, it made sense to get a (possibly) last ride up millcreek canyon in.
now 50 degrees in the city means . . . significantly cooler at the top of millcreek. we started from my house a little after 4:00.
I wore my full tights, a long-sleeved warm jersey, a jacket, my headband, and full gloves. and I brought arm-warmers for the ride down.
the sky was clear above us as we rode up, and I was sweating quite a bit for the first two-thirds of the climb. the temperature kept dropping, degree by degree, as we climbed higher up the canyon, and by the last two miles I was fairly consistently cold. at times the sun dropped behind clouds, and by the end, the twists and curves of the canyon walls kept us separated from it even when it wasn't hiding behind those clouds. by that point my sweat had cooled off so that I was cold and damp, a delightful combination if it's above 75 degrees, but not such a great combination when it's in the upper thirties.
at elbow fork, which is perhaps 3 or so miles from the top, a cyclist was stopped on the downhill edge of the road, blowing on his hands, his cheeks and nose bright red. "It's really cold, coming down," were the words of encouragement he offered us. hmmm. no surprise, and I didn't really want to think about the down when I still had all that up to do.
it was a tough up, by the way. maybe it was the cold air, maybe it was the end of the season, maybe it was the time of day: something was making it a very challenging climb for me. I'd like to think it's just because I couldn't breathe through my nose since it wouldn't stop running, but it's possible I was just having a wimpy day.
nevertheless, I reached the top, where I circled the parking lot until my heart rate climbed down from the stratosphere and settled into only a slightly elevated zone where I was at least able to speak words out loud. I circled a few more times, then, finally certain I wouldn't drop dead if I were to stop, I stopped. I pulled on my arm warmers, watched my breath for a minute (yes, really), then steeled myself for the downward plunge.
it was cold.
you know how you get a headache from eating ice cream too quickly?
I had the headache without the pleasure of the ice cream.
I couldn't talk, or even move my facial muscles, as they were frozen into position. literally. who needs botox? a nice fast ride down a canyon when it's 35 degrees ought to freeze those muscles for a good week or two.
so this afternoon, sitting at the base of the canyon, looking up into it, I thought of where I had been less than 24 hours before. I watched the blanket of clouds come down, covering every foothill and mountain on the eastern edge of the city, and lost my view of even the very mouth of millcreek. the clouds, grey and fog-like, settled in for a while and then, their work done, pulled back and up, once again revealing the hills. what had been brown and dotted with green, red, and gold was now dusted with white. as if a giant bowl of confectioner's sugar had been sprinkled over every ridge, there was snow visible on every surface I could see.
when I left the top parking lot of millcreek canyon yesterday I knew it may be my last visit of the year. I tried to drink in every aspect of the mountains, the trees, the hills, the foliage on the ground. it will soon be covered with snow, and soon they will close the gate that stretches across the road halfway up the canyon.
millcreek will then become a haven for hikers and snowshoers, and it will rest under it's thick blanket of snow, peacefully, so quietly.
and I will go watch my daughters play volleyball, and soccer, for a little while longer. then they will play basketball, and toward the end of that season my son will start playing lacrosse again. and when it's just about time for his first game, I will be pumping up the air in my bike tires, digging out my long tights, skull cap and full gloves, and I will try to weave a little riding into his season.
because truly, there are not too many TTKMFC.