Sunday, October 31, 2010

when the bike lane is full of leaves

occasionally you are forced to make choices.
sometimes we're able to slide by without, to let the river of life pull us gently with its flow. we rely on others' decisions and the onslaught of requirements and necessities to guide our daily actions.
but then moments interject when you must move this way or that, choose one path or another, make a conscious and firm decision about your next movement.

I have spent the past five weeks savoring each day, grasping onto the gift of dry pavement, clutching desperately every hour of sunlight and temperature above fifty degrees, knowing that it will soon come to an end.
we are now deeply entrenched in autumn, and evidence of this engagement is plentiful. snow lingers in crevasses on the south sides of hillsides, naked stalks of gray trees shiver on the slopes, leaves flutter and gather in great piles where the insistent wind follows its whim and pushes them, compacting their individuality into swirling masses of mayhem.
we exist in a brown sea, flashes of gold and copper lessening, the brilliant orange and vermilion fading and falling into heaps of matter thickening the carpet of the mountain floors.

riding emigration you reach a spot about five miles up where the bike lane is suddenly gone: it's covered by a thousand fallen gold leaves which have been soldered together by the past days' snows and rain. although the lane before this point has been dusted with the occasional leaf or rocks that have slid down the hillside and rolled to stopping points between the road's edge and that thick white line, there has always been visible asphalt upon which you can navigate the path of your skinny little tires.
until the blanket of leaves completely covers the lane.
and a decision must be made.
you could turn back. you could ride upon the likely slippery carpet. or you could swing wide, into the traffic lane, bypassing the section of golden surface.

there's really not much time to think about this, as it confronts you quickly and unexpectedly. but each potential decision involves risk and reward, and it's a skill to decide in mere seconds which response will be best.
to turn back gives you an immediate reward--a descent--but leaves you without an answer to what the top of the hill might bring.
to ride upon the wet leaves could bring you down, your wheel slipping out from under you, or could simply provide you a rush of adrenaline and victory if you remain upright and past it.
to swing wide into the traffic lane puts you at risk of negligent or uptight drivers who aren't able to find it within themselves to gracefully share the road, but can reward you with safe passage around the treacherous stretch.

the decision to be made here isn't earth shattering, it's barely significant. but it's one of those moments life presents us with where we can either thoughtfully react and analyze our options, or just move through without true consideration. what is astounding is that this assessment and analyzation can take place in split seconds, and is perhaps often not even acknowledged. to move through without true consideration takes even less time, and may perhaps signify an unconscious skill to which we all might aspire.

I rode around the leaves. ( I seem to have an issue these days with riding on top of slippery substances. terra firma is my friend; weeds and wet leaves are possibly not. ) but at the moment of decision I realized that every option presented me had repercussions, and that by choosing one I was eliminating all others. it was over in seconds, it was not to be revisited until the next time I ride that stretch of road.
sometimes we flow, following the path life puts before us, and sometimes we make small decisions that tweak our path, and often, it's difficult to tell the difference.

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