Tuesday, June 18, 2013

a narrow strip of weathered asphalt

once upon a time emigration canyon road was paved with smooth, shiny, black asphalt.  poured thick and hot, it was rolled into a flat and even surface and care, motorcycles, and bikes began rolling over it with speed and ease.  then the seasons changed; air and ground heating and cooling, snow falling and freezing, plows scraping, snow melting, sun beating.  one day the sun rose over a road cracked and worn, pitted and bumpy.
the powers that be gathered in a room in a building miles and miles away, scrutinizing numbers, plotting futures, and decided that the road would receive a new surface, but this time, one of something called chip seal.  chip seal, a lesser cousin of asphalt, is not smooth.  chip seal consists of an asphalt binder, applied to existing pavement, topped with a layer of aggregate chips, then rolled . . . with the goal of embedding all those little (and not-so-little) aggregate chips into the binder and creating something similar to smooth road surface.
chip seal is what a governmental agency does to roads when they decide they cannot afford asphalt.
I've bemoaned chip seal before; I will certainly do it again.  if anything on your bike isn't attached and screwed down tightly (like a front light), chip seal will let you know about it.  my hands sometimes go numb from all the vibrations.  chip seal is not my buddy.
this morning's story isn't completely about chip seal, but now that you know about b u m p y chip seal you might have greater understanding of the personal quirk I will now share.

emigration canyon road--as I stated above--was once entirely paved with asphalt.  when they decided to apply chip seal to the surface, they skipped a few sections.  the lowest mile or so is chip seal-free, and there are another few stretches without it.  in addition, the chip-seal applications, at times, don't quite make it all the way across the bike lane/shoulder out to the edge.
there's a particular spot about 2.5 miles up where a beautiful, newly poured asphalt pullout juts out to the right.  and then when that ends, a length of road exists where the chip seal is one to three feet shy of the road's edge.
I always swing out into the pullout apron because it is bump-free and lovely, and then I ride the old-asphalt narrows to avoid the chip seal.  it lasts 12 yards or so, but the first couple yards are extremely narrow, probably less than a foot wide.
during the winter when I ride the canyon this strip of old asphalt is covered with snow, affording me no opportunity to ride it.  but as spring commences, the snow pulls back and it is once again revealed.
finally, to the point!
in april, it's hard to ride this little strip.
by may, I'm getting a little better.
when june rolls around, I'm pretty confident of riding it easily, without bumping into the chip-seal edge that could grab my tire and, at a minimum, unsettle me, at the end of the spectrum, send my sprawling.
this morning I nailed the transition beautifully, no question, confident, smooth.

practice is a beautiful thing.  well, practice (committed, disciplined practice) is actually a lot of work.  but the result of practice is awesome.  it is confidence, certainty, improvement.  it is mastery.  and if you never truly practice something, you will never know the joy---yes, complete and utter joy---of doing something well.
whatever it might be.
for me, this morning, it was being balanced on a narrow width of asphalt:  talk about quirky.  but it's something I challenge myself with each time, just like my hands-free riding on beacon drive (with which I'm also growing more confident.)

never stop growing.  never stop learning.  never stop challenging yourself to be just a little bit better tomorrow than you were today.  because this is the secret to life.


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