Saturday, November 7, 2009

annual events

I have so many things to catch up on here: a two-week absence results in numerous unrecounted and un-documented experiences.
but since it's late and I've had a long week, I will give you an abbreviated version of my great ride two weeks ago today.
to begin with, it was a special occasion in that I dragged my mountain bike from the back of my garage, removed the spiderwebs and dust that coated it, pumped up its tires, and refilled its pack with a spare tube and a few dollars, but forgot the tire levers. (my pump is attached to the downtube, and always ready to go; no cartridges needed. only roadies use cartridges anyway, snooty sniff.)
I was heading out on my annual (as I laughingly call it) token mountain bike ride.
I hadn't ridden my poor, neglected mountain bike for 13 months, and it was time.

bill, kind soul that he is, agreed to ride with me, and suggested a nice, tame route that would keep me from stressing over its technical challenges and sheer drops. he said, why don't we ride from your house up millcreek to elbow fork, and take the pipeline trail down.
sure, I said.
now, just to clue you in, last time I rode a brief section of this trail I spent a fair bit of time hanging upside down (well, okay, in truth, just lying with my head pointed downhill and my legs and bike up above me) off the sloping side of the narrow trail, trying to decide how in the world I could get myself out of that predicament. I knew parts of this trail were a tad scary (as in, don't look down), but decided I could handle it.

that saturday morning dawned cold and overcast, but not even the rain 2 miles from the mouth of millcreek deterred us. I was on a mission. this annual event was happening, no matter what.
rain came and went, and we plowed ahead.
then came the hail.

this is when I laugh.
during the past 3 years I have placed myself (yes, I take full accountability) in the craziest of situations, and have laughed at what mother nature has blessed me with. I cannot wait to tell my grandchildren stories of how I rode in thunderstorms and torrential rains and under moonlight and in the midst of hail storms. I have earned these memories and cherish them. (my son has a t-shirt that says something like this: you can fall off your raft and die, or you can stay home and fall off your couch and die. get off your couch! I love this shirt.)

the hail started reasonably. and then intensified. and started coming down so hard and fast that it hurt.
we pulled off the road and tried to burrow beneath overhanging trees, protecting half of our bodies and bikes from the white iceballs, and watched the road get covered by millions of small white bombs.
I giggled.
it slowed, and we climbed back on our bikes for the last half mile or so of pavement before the trail began.
in this pic, those white dots are hail balls, and if you look closely, you'll notice that the normally black asphalt is light gray, due to being covered with little white hail balls.

the trail was astounding. beautiful. wet. full of mud puddles and sopping leaves. dry in spots mysteriously covered by shadowy trees, and gutted and worn away in others. the trail hangs high on the mountainside for miles, as you gaze out hundreds of feet above the road, staring into deep and dense pine hillsides. I rode over hundreds of thousands of slippery leaves and spent more than a few minutes listening to kris kristofferson singing in my ear, when it's scary...... don't look down.

I ended the ride muddier than I've ever been in my life, I'm sure, and living an adrenaline high.
okay you mountain bikers, I get it.

but I'm not giving up my road bike.

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