Sunday, February 17, 2013

the snowbirds and I

I have to clean my bike today.
ruby is covered with dirt, mud, grime, salt, sand, and probably a few drips of electrolyte-spiked water.  I like to think she's as happy about it as I am, but then I like to assign human traits to my bicycle, a possibly questionable activity.
we traveled together yesterday to a spot higher than we've traveled in months, halfway up big cottonwood canyon to mile marker 10, elevation approximately 7100 feet.  in sunshine!  45 degrees!
pretty groovy for february 16.

I had planned to attend a 90-minute super-challenging spin class yesterday, but when the morning weather forecast shouted high of 45, sunshine, I changed my plans.  an outdoor ride was obviously indicated.  and since I was forgoing the super-challenging class (love to conquer those things), I knew my outdoor ride needed to be super-challenging as well.
so . . . no mere emigration canyon ride would do;  this required a longer ride and a steeper canyon.  after considering distance, sun v. shade, and my allotted time, I decided to head to big cottonwood and go halfway up.
and because I hadn't really planned this in advance, I hadn't scoped out the bike path to see if I'd be able to travel across the freeways on the east bench of the city or not:  the answer is not.  which I found out after I'd ridden to the start of the bike path:  this necessitated a trip back down (and I mean down) twenty blocks or so and then back up (and I mean up).  just a warm-up for the big climb.

not being certain of how clear the bike lanes were, I started up the canyon thinking I would turn around if the lanes were dangerously narrow or even absent.  I didn't want to stress out all of those motorists, make them have to share too much of their asphalt with me.
the lanes, though, were almost as wide as on a june morning, and I kept pedaling.  car traffic was plentiful, but everyone gave me enough room to wide berth, and I huffed and puffed my way up through storm mountain (ow) and then through the S curve (whee) and up through one of my favorite sections where the creek runs right next to the road.
the water is so clear, the creek thick with rounded snow globs sitting atop logs and rocks.  splashing and crashing its way downhill, the creek radiates joy and vibrancy.  it's beautiful, absolutely beautiful.

at the 10-mile marker I called it quits.  my time limit was shrinking and my fuel supply waning; my legs had been begging me to stop and turn around for miles.
so I stopped.  ate my granola bar.  pulled on my downhill garb.  looked at the snow, the pines, the water far down the hill in a crevasse; took a deep breath and released it.

then took off downhill, quaking in my booties every time a car whooshed past me in an obvious hurry to get down to the bottom of the hill.  I hugged the shoulder, staying as close to that white line as I could, wishing for just a little more patience from each motorist.  I know they don't expect cyclists up the canyon in february the way they do in june, but I'm pretty sure I have a right to some of that asphalt, too.
and the salt.  and the sand.  the grit and the grime and the mud.
which is where this all began.

I need to clean my bike today.  grin.  I am one lucky human.

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