when the gray skies parted, the temperature climbed to 50, and a pure blue sky was revealed that held not a single puff of white cloud, I had no choice but to put the rest of my chores aside and throw on my biking gear and go.
toe covers, full gloves, skull cap under my helmet, two layers and a third for the way down, I pumped up my tires and off I went.
I had decided that the twenty mile ride to the top of emigration and back would be just perfect, and I set out pushing my muscles which have been slacking on a spin bike for much too long. heartrate soaring, I climbed and spun and gathered in lungful after lungful of fresh, clean, glorious air.
at the top of my favorite canyon, I drank in this tableau I so love, the snowy mountains ringing the south, the deep gray of the thick winter reservoir. and then something happened: I was pulled down, down the hill, down to the side of that reservoir. it was less a decision than a response to an internal signal, a tug of dna.
as I neared the bottom of the hill I was struck by a thought: the gate. I hadn't seen the gate in at least a month, the gate at the far end of the reservoir, the gate that closes the road up big mountain in the winter months. I had to ride to the gate, just to see it, to visit this old friend.
as soon as the peeling yellow paint of its round metal arms was in sight, I knew I wouldn't stop there, because asphalt stretched beyond. I could see it, gray stretches of worn and beloved pavement, snow-free and calling to me, teasing what must be cellular dna that knows this spot, this land, this experience.
I skirted the gate, one of many who take its message of deterrence to be only for others, not for someone like me. and asphalt stretched before me, calling me forward, teasing me with its wide and motor-free expanse. I rode on, and on, avoiding the occasional splotch of melting snow, the slick expanses of wet.
fingers of snow would reach out across the road, and then an arm or two. but there were enough tracks through them to allow my skinny tires to continue on. and then the occasional arm became a leg, and then torsos and bodies began to threaten. I wove as far as I could, until the melting snow became icy and committed to longer life, and my tires lost their gray road.
1.5 is the answer, 1.5 miles at 4:10 pm on sunday, december 12, 2010.
I.5 miles past the gate, three and a half miles further than I had any intention of riding yesterday. three and a half miles that had nothing to do with my mind and everything to do with something much deeper within.
I turned and rode back down to the gate, alongside the reservoir, back up little mountain and down emigration toward home. through rivulets of runoff that threw rooster tails up my back, between rocks and leaves and other bike lane debris, down a road that changed from sunny to shaded and back again, through air that was chillier than it had been an hour before. my legs were pedaling, but my heart was flying.
when I was a mile or two from home, I looked up to the sky and saw a flock of geese flying in their v-formation, their wings flapping majestically. peaceful, assured, confident, following their own cellular dna which will lead them to a place they call home.