Sunday, March 15, 2015

snow fords

there are those who will cross snow, and those who won't.

and of course, those who will cross snow if it's no more than
10 yards wide
10 feet wide
3 feet wide
a foot

I know of a cycling couple who abide by a rule of never getting off their bikes to walk over snow. never. no matter what.
they'll come back the next day, the next week; they wait for it to melt. they are patient.

I will cross fingers of snow. sometimes really FAT fingers of snow.  maybe six or even ten feet wide.
but there must be a long stretch of clear asphalt visible on the other side.

this winter has given us so little snow that I'm able to ride farther up big mountain than usual for march. the top three miles of the climb twist, bend, and switchback upon themselves. as a result, some stretches melt clear of snow long before others.
yesterday, biking buddy bob and I rode up to the point where snow thoroughly covered the road.
and then we stopped. we knew that the snow before us probably only stretched a hundred yards or so ~ and then the road was probably bare for quite a ways, before it curved back into the shade where snow remained thick upon its surface.
"do you want to walk it?"  he asked.
"no way. you?"
we looked up the northern hillside, red rock, almost completely free of snow. the road cuts across, and we watched two cyclists speeding down.
those who walk their bikes across snow.

we turned our bikes, and headed to the next canyon over.

grunt. sweat pooling on my forehead, trickling into my right eye, its salt stinging. I blink, close the eyelid for seconds at a time, try to clear the pain. quadriceps shrieking, angry, moments from defiance, a battle in my head. stop--no--another revolution.  stop.  no.  I cannot do this.  my granny gear won't hold, my mind tells my legs, you'll have to push harder.  harder. I ache to stop, I ache, triceps tight and stiffening, a trickle of electricity ripples my torso, sparks, my abdominal muscles shouting through the skin.

sixty feet. battle. wind presses my back and slips past me.  rushing upward. it cools my skin but my forehead still drips into my eye, stabs of pain, needles. I hold my right eye shut and look at the gray hillside, distraction, please.  snow-matted, ugly, bare sticks of trees, scrub oak bumpy and twisted.  thin clouds lighten the sky, fade its color to the palest blue.  twenty feet.  pain both dull and pervasive, and angrily sharp in fiery strips of muscle.  fifteen.  the road flattens in four revolutions, three, two.  five feet.  quads immediately hush, they loosen, quiver in delight.  buds, pale green, smaller than peas, peek, dirt-crusted snow lies at the edge of the road like a remnant of last night's party.  legs turn faster, speed increases, my eye is clear.
four more miles, some easy, some hard.  then the gate. beyond the gate, snow.

snow which I will not ford, but will look at with respect, before I turn my bicycle and my back, and fly all the way back down the canyon to a city that holds no snow, anywhere.