Monday, September 17, 2007

Monster truck'n

Date: Sept. 17
Mileage: ~20
September mileage: 387.3
Temperature upon departure: 49
Rainfall: .75"

Pugsley and I had quite the adventure on Douglas Island today.

We bounded over barnacle-coated boulders, skimmed beaches of soft sand, crushed through mussel shells, squished across fields of seaweed, crossed shin-deep creeks, teetered on rickety bridges, passed crumbling Gold Rush structures, thrashed through the ghosts of old trails, spun up impossibly steep hillsides, and then turned around to do it all again.

I felt like I could go anywhere, climb anything, see everything. Pugsley pressed forward like an army tank with no scruples. I love my Pugsley. It is (sniff, sniff) the perfect bike.

Well, I did notice a few things that make it just a tiny bit less than perfect. It is heavy - quite the beast to hoist on my shoulders, an action rough terrain calls for often. It's also slow (but really, who cares?) And it corners like a bus with a flat tire (but as long as I'm going slow, who cares?)

My shoreline ride was a morning-long expedition that carried me - maybe - four miles from the end of Sandy Beach. But what it lacked in distance, it made up for in pure adventure, the wide-eyed awe of discovering surprising details in a new place.

My initial joy with the effortlessness of plowing over big rocks and floating atop sand quickly tapered when I came to the first big creek. The smoothest crossing looked to be at least waist deep, and could have just as easily been over my head. As I scouted upstream, the water roiled and churned and seemed to create an insurmountable obstacle. But eventually, I came to a waterfall, and above it, something that looked and awful lot like a bridge.

I had to hoist Pugsley up a cliff to reach it. The bridge looked like it hadn't been maintained since the Treadwell area was a bustling gold mining operation. It was too narrow for Pugsley's pedals to slide directly through. As I began to thread the bike through the swaying structure, I wondered if the creek swim wouldn't have been the safer option. But it was too late to turn back now.

Beyond the bridge was something that looked marginally like a trail. I learned the hard way - by falling sideways into a tree - that Pugsley doesn't tackle wet roots any better than any of my other bikes. I started to think about the possibilities with studded 4" tires. That would truly be a bike without barriers.

On the way back to Sandy Beach, I came across some newer infrastructure that didn't seem to lead anywhere. As I stood contemplating this bridge, I heard a loud whoosh and looked up to see a helmet-clad person flying almost directly overhead. I was so startled that it took me a few seconds to realize there was a zip line up there, and these strange bridges were the access trail.

I only skimmed the tip of what there is to explore around here, even in the limited area of south Douglas Island. Pugsley opens up so many possibilities (granted, these are all places I could access on foot, but that's just boring.) I will be back soon; and maybe I can find some lesser bikes to run over and crush while I'm at it.