Monday, August 10, 2009

where I would fish if I had to fish fish

I met a new dam today.
it was totally unplanned (my visit to it, that is, not the dam itself), and one of those experiences that are completely unexpected gifts from out of the blue.

I had driven up to huntsville saturday evening and spent the last 2 nights there by pineview reservoir: a beautiful, waterside setting that makes you feel you could be beside any mountain lake in the world. the water shimmers and the mountains rise around it majestically and birds fly above and the sun sets peacefully . . . and you can ride your bike around it in as many different directions as there are spokes in a bike wheel.
this morning I headed east toward monte cristo, aiming for a 22-24 miler that would replicate my usual emigration canyon route. I knew the route would have more flat(ish) miles than usual, but lately I've been thinking I need to have more flat (ish) miles in my training plan as I need to get stronger on them.
it was cold (50ish) but the sun was all alone in its pure blue sky, and I headed east, straight at it, hoping to avoid shadows and shade.
the first 4 miles were the kind that cause you to question your decision to leave a nice warm home (with coffee and couches and books and blankets) and put yourself through physical torture. but what always happens when I find myself in this situation is that 2 things go through my mind: first, to turn around and get home with a whopping 6 miles for the day would be a complete embarrassment to myself, and, second, if I did that turn-around-and-go-home-thing I'd have to make up for it by giving up my next scheduled day off, because a 6-mile day might just as well be called a day off.
thus I forged forward.
and eventually stopped thinking about calling it quits.

I remembered a bit of the canyon from my ride there a few weeks back, and at about 7 miles up I thought I would be soon approaching the turn-off to a dam. perhaps that would be a good turn-around point, where I could head back down toward coffee.
within a mile or so I was there, and suddenly my bike was taking the turnoff to the right, heading toward causey dam.
funny how that sometimes happens.
the road pulled me along, up a couple fun little climbs, until I could see the sun reflecting off a few vehicles up atop what appeared to be the edge of the dam. well, you bet I was going to get up there, no matter what it took.
what it took was another mile or so and then a climb up a twisting, steep road that was mercifully not too long, and suddenly I was weaving my way through a pitted, gravelly road perched on the dam itself, with a shaded and snakey body of deep green water to my left. the hillsides were covered with trees of every pungent shade of foresty green you can imagine, and as I rode across the dam I looked up at a waning gibbous moon floating in that pure blue summer sky that tells you all is well with the world.
far below me a few fishing rafts floated on the water, and faint murmurs of conversation drifted my way. serenity, I thought to myself. this is the ultimate exemplification of serenity.
I breathed it in, rode along a joyfully easy upward swoop toward the end of the dam's eastern leg, and smiled my bliss back out to the world.
I had no idea when I started my ride this morning that I would end up making a new acquaintance. and perhaps those are some of the best experiences: the ones we just let happen.

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