Sunday, December 04, 2005

Blind spots

Date:Dec. 3
Today's mileage: 20.0
December mileage: 37.1
Total time: 2 hours, 4 minutes
Top speed: 26 mph
Temperature upon departure: 9

Today's ride was sponsored in part by Tracy in Iowa, and by The Old Bag. Two inches of new powder meant I didn't break any speed records today, but I did get some great lessons in maneuvering. My favorite part of the ride was blasting down a decent (probably 8 percent) grade on Skyline Drive. Powder clouds whipped around me as I coasted down the untapped shoulder, carving a perfect line in the thin layer of new snow. It was a single moment, but felt quietly flawless, like I was floating - like I was snowboarding. Toward the bottom of the hill, I met one of the few vehicles I saw today - a full-sized Chevy pickup buried to its sideview mirrors in a snow bank. Its path was carved in the powder as well - and was decidedly less pretty than mine. How a vehicle that size left the road is beyond me, but judging by the dirt and rocks strewn across a 20-foot radius, I could tell it was a mighty struggle. As I slowed down to go around the truck, three people in the ditch looked up from their hapless shoveling with the most forlorn look on their faces . They all had the exact same look, blank expressions with a tinge of desperation in their eyes. My heart broke for their plight, but, alas, I was not towing a 5-ton winch, and felt any offer of contribution by a rogue biker might only exacerbate the situation.

When I returned home from that adventure, Geoff and I went cross-country skiing. I am definitely worse at skiing than I am at cycling, but the flailing downhill stretches are always a good exercise in humility. For some reason, it was simply impossible for me to keep my skis parallel at crucial moments today. Those periods of sliding with my butt on the back of my skis really helped wash away any feelings of superiority I may have developed whilst passing that poor truck. I have to admit, I did feel a shameful sense of pride on my ability to outmaneuver a $35,000 vehicle down a hill. No more, though. We all have our moments. That truck could have just as easily been me, torso buried in the snow, a disembodied pair of legs with skis attached kicking wildly at the sky.