my biking buddies define adventure in this way: misery remembered in comfort.
and of course the most epic (meaning difficult, disastrous, wicked cold, wet, scary) rides are those that make the best stories, and the best memories, and become--in our minds--the very best adventures.
biking buddy bob, this weekend, declared our ride to be one step below an adventure.
I carefully placed it in the adventure category, hoping not to slip and fall as I did so.
salt lake city was gifted with a beautiful snowstorm earlier in the week, one that left inches on the valley floors and turned everything magically white for a day and a half. then it melted, the creeks rose by inches, and the ground soaked moisture in with great gulps of relief. by wednesday morning most of the snow was gone in our neighborhoods, and by friday, riding up emigration, there were just a few lingering chunks pushed outside the bike lane by snow plows, and shady stretches here and there that clung to icy snow perhaps half an inch thick. back to fall, the temperatures hovered in the upper 50s and crept into the low 60s by saturday.
bob and I met at 11:30 saturday, and spent a few dozen words deciding where to ride, selecting millcreek canyon for its beauty, the fact that the upper half was gated the prior weekend and we would be riding without cars beside us, and the fact that neither of us had ridden there in a long time.
I think it will be colder than I want it to be, I said, to which bob replied, I know it will be colder than I want it to be. we turned our bikes toward the canyon and pedaled away.
the lower half of the canyon allowed us sections of shade--brr--and sections lit by sun, but the effort needed to keep pedaling up up up kept us warm. the gate, halfway up, was pulled shut and locked, and we skirted it over a bed of rocky leaves, following the path created by many before us. trees hang heavily over that stretch of road, and we weren't 100 feet into it before snow and icy patches danced over the pavement.
ahh, this might not be so good for me, I thought. I'm still cautious on my descents, and the thought of slipping and falling is so repellent it makes me quake. but dry asphalt was available if you wiggled this way and that, and then suddenly there was a stretch completely free of snow, ice, and ambiguous surface.
so we kept riding.
we'd move from this side to that, searching for safe surface, and we kept finding it . . . until we didn't, where the road was covered with frozen slushy material that had been ridden over, tire tracks visible. bob, in the lead, un-clipped and made his way through that ten-foot width, and I followed.
then we had road again, and then not. after traversing the second time, we looked up the road and made our assessment: we would ride to the top of the next rise, where the sun was shining, and see what it looked like from that vantage point.
the answer was, not very rideable.
so we ate our snacks while standing in the sun and adding our layers for the downhill.
the descent scared the whatever out of me: between shaking with cold and experiencing terror over every patch of black that could be ice--let alone the true ice--I had an adventure riding down the canyon.
and this morning, sitting in comfort, sipping coffee, I can recall the terror and call it, simply,