Thursday, September 27, 2007

Routine route

(Yes, I am still posting Grand Canyon pictures. I've been carrying my camera since I returned from the canyon Saturday night, but ... nothing. Yet.)

Date: Sept. 26
Mileage: 25.1
September mileage: 430.6
Temperature upon departure: 46
Rainfall: .31"

"This is how it works ... You're young until you're not ... You love until you don't ... You try until you can't ... You laugh until you cry ... You cry until you laugh ... And everyone must breathe ... Until their dying breath."
- Regina Spektor, "On The Radio"

Today I rode out to North Douglas. Again. My bike computer was not working. It did not matter. I circled the roundabout at mile .5, sucked air up the hill at mile 2.1, passed the now-broken JEBE sign at mile 3.5, coasted by the Eaglecrest cutoff at mile 6.2, rounded the Douglas boat launch at mile 8.9, labored up the last hill at mile 11, and throttled my wet brakes to a squeaky stop at the end of the road, mile 12.55.

After I blew my nose on a devil's club leaf and rubbed the road grit from my eyes, I wondered exactly how many dozens of times I've put that ride together. Many dozens. Dozens and dozens. All the way down to the details ... the tarp teepee that shelters stacks of logs, the fence built 30-feet high completely out of old skis, the apartment building parking lot that is constantly hosting junky garage sales, the boats still trolling the channel, the porcupines still lumbering across the street. There is nothing new, nothing left to explore. I am officially bored.

I have been wondering when this would begin to happen. Wondering when I would begin to lose interest in weaving together the 80 miles of pavement and 25 miles of bikeable trail that is everything I have to work with. Could this be that moment? The last day of my yearlong Juneau honeymoon? Had I hit the dead end - both literally and figuratively? What would life be like from here on out? Cycling without adventure? The existential equivalent of eating tuna noodle casserole for dinner and fruitcake at Christmas? Again?

Bicycling for me is much more than a way to stay fit. It is a way to stay sane. Bicycling helps satiate my often overwhelming wanderlust. It keeps me happy with the desk job and the chore routine and the life cemented in a place where traveling more than 40 miles from home means taking to the air or sea. If I lose interest in North Douglas, the next step is losing interest in Thane. And then the Mendenhall Valley. And then Berners Bay. And then I'll have nowhere left to go.

I turned around to face the headwind and horizontal rain. I passed the waterfall at mile 14.5, crossed Fish Creek at mile 17, skirted the pothole minefield at mile 22, watched one of the last tour buses of the season roll by at mile 24, and made my way home. As I pulled into the driveway, the beads of condensation beneath my jacket had already begun to seep through my shirt, inviting the chill of the morning through my last layer. The heat of hard breathing beat against my nose and cheeks until it broke through the numbness, warming my skin. I could feel the release from hard effort. I let the sensation wash over me, like ice water, calming and exhilarating at the same time.

And I remembered, again, why I keep doing these rides. Nothing is certain; therefore, everything is a surprise.