Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Crunchy goodness

Date: April 11
Mileage: 24
April mileage: 77
Temperature upon departure: 32
On the iPod: "The Plan" ~ Built to Spill

Boy was I grumpy when I set out on my bike ride today. It started out as a sunny day and deteriorated quickly. By the time I left work, it was blowing snow. On top of that, I forgot my ski goggles. I guided my bike through the white static while trying to look anywhere but forward. The present came to me in a cinematic flicker of involuntary blinking. I was annoyed, but I wanted to take others' good advice about getting back on the bike, because I've already had plenty of days off.

Amazingly, about seven miles into the ride, I began to loosen up. The knot of irritation released in bursts of energy. I embraced my blindness and accepted that I was moving by shapes and sounds. And I began to think that maybe I'm not tired of cycling. Maybe I'm just tired of winter.

On the way home, I rode beside an open field of smooth snow. I don't know why I pulled my bike over a six-foot snowbank to reach it. The snow conditions are changing so quickly that I could have encountered anything. I could have sunk up to my hips in ice shards or collapsed into a hollowed-out slush puddle. But what I found was hardpack so solid that I barely left footprints as I walked. That's when I knew I had arrived.

The rumbling crunch of studs hitting hardpack snow is a beautiful sound. I zigzagged through the field because I had nowhere to go and no place to be. I was as free as the bald eagles that I scared from their perches. They circled through a swirl of falling snow and landed a hundred yards ahead, and still I rode toward them ... a directionless pursuit. I dropped into a gully and began to follow a stream bed, pedaling hard enough to feel the cold wind burn in my lungs and the enduring thrill of weaving around bushes and trees ... create-your-own-singletrack. The snow was soft enough in spots that the occasional posthole had serious consequences (think brake check). But I was amazed how easily I could decide where I wanted to be and just float there. I was a rider without a trail, with no need for a trail. The world was my trail.

And I began to think that maybe I'm not tired of winter. Maybe I just have the wrong ideas about spring.


  1. "The world was my trail." Nice.

    So it's spring here and that meant rain. And the chollas drop pads on the ground and grow out into the walkways ... Not hitting them with your bare thigh in traffic is paramount. Missing the pads with your tires is critical. The temps are climmbing now to introduce sweat.

    You can ride all day indoors, and the world will never be your trail.

    I am curius Jill -- if you have read Terry Tempest Williams?

  2. "Amazingly, about seven miles into the ride, I began to loosen up. The knot of irritation released in bursts of energy"

    Jill, that sounds like the result of 'rest' don't stop riding ever, just take a few moments every now and then.

    keep riding and writing (but don't forget the breaks for both)


  3. Looks like a Zen ride. I can imagine the quiteness--not very quiet here in SoCal.

  4. Good, my point was made! That it's the journey and you didn't have to ride if you didn't want to! That makes it easier to remember it's fun! I'm certainly glad you did get out and ride though! It's ALWAYS easier to break a rut when you remember you are doing it for the fun, not because you had to!


Feedback is always appreciated!