Sunday, February 8, 2009

parallel universes

yesterday I had one of those experiences that's difficult to define.
for the last 2 summers I've spent hours riding my bike up Big Cottonwood canyon, grunting and grinding and sailing and soaring and there at the end, convincing my legs they can make that last little hill before my eyes sight the Brighton Store and my entire body quivers in excitement of being able to make that final, victorious "oh my God I made it" lap.
once last summer I rode to the top of Big Cottonwood, and then rode up Guardsmans Pass to that summit, looking over the valleys into the winding hills and canyons of midway and park city.
as a result, I am familiar with those roads, familiar in a biking way. familiar with the asphalt and the there-and-then-gone bike lanes, familiar with the deep S curve and the fluctuating grade and the sheer expanse of hillsides you see.
green hillsides.
trees and shrubbery and wild-growing weeds and aspen whose leaves quiver in the gentle summer breeze.
other cyclists, cars, the occasional deer or squirrel.
rocks and pines and, hidden far behind aspen and oak and space, a secret waterfall that sparkles in the sunlight.
this is the canyon I know and recognize.

yesterday I traveled the same road and met a new canyon.
we drove from the mouth of the canyon to the Guardsman turnoff, minuscule flakes floating randomly down from the clouds that hovered above. we took the snow-packed road as far as it went, until we reached a small parking lot where the metal gate closed the road to further traffic.
snow has been accumulating there since october, and we walked up a gradual slope and on to the top of the gate, crossing into the winter version of this canyon I thought I knew.
I kept thinking of riding the road that was now a good 4 or 5 or 6 feel below me, and it made my heart happy and my soul giggle.
we climbed and the sweat began to gather, and the late afternoon light slowly dimmed to an early evening glow. dr. seuss trees hugged the path, and silence sat upon us like a glorious mantle.
we stopped where park city resort throws up its boundaries, and sat until our fingers tingled then ached with cold. it had darkened further, and the quiet settled around us until we heard a marvelous moaning from across the valley, drifting cleanly over to us through the crisp air and open sky. moose? elk? frustrated ski patrolman at the end of a trying day?
it remains a mystery.
on the way down, we watched the lights of the groomers sweeping the slopes of Solitude, the rumble and whine of their engines reaching us as cleanly as the moaning moose call.

I suppose I could call this cross-training, but I'd rather just call it a miraculous visit to a parallel universe which exists 6 months away from the cycling universe I usually inhabit.

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