Thursday, November 01, 2007

Pugsley's first taste of snow

Date: Oct. 31
Mileage: 13.2
October mileage: 648.1
Temperature upon departure: 37
Rainfall: .98"
October rainfall: 15.65"

This morning, I dressed to go to the gym. Lower-body weight-lifting day. Ug. I thought I should be grateful for the diversion because the weather outside looked monstrous, as usual. But as I walked outside I noticed, stripped ever so lightly below the low-lying clouds, hints of powder white. That meant the snowline was low! Low enough to cover the Perseverance Trail! I had to go to it, to see it, to remember that there is life beyond relentless rain. But I didn't have much time. I ran inside and threw on a fleece hoodie, my helmet, some neoprene booties over my gym shoes, and my snowboarding gloves. With a cotton gym outfit as a base layer, I knew I wouldn't last long out there. But I didn't need long. I needed fast. And I needed snow.

Pugsley and I set out in light, sprinkling rain, but the lack of fenders had me soaked in about 55 seconds. We burned quickly through the late-morning traffic and up the canyon road, hitting the deserted trail in a splash of puddles and scattered leaves, the snowline now mere feet above us. And then, within minutes, it was below us.

I can't call it Puglsey's first snow ride because an inch of warm slush that melts on contact doesn't quite fit the description. But snow was there, coating the canyon like a thin confection glaze, oozing from the treetops and infusing the air with a sweet, metallic taste. I was filled with anticipation I could hardly mitigate. And like a kid who knows the free reign of her Halloween candy is all too temporary, I just had to go for broke.

I launched into a pedalling frenzy, fueled by a sugar snow rush and propelled by the never-say-die burliness of my monster bike. Despite the slush and ice, I was climbing the canyon better than I ever had, clearing a lot of rocky stretches that I usually don't. It's a strange working relationship that I have with Pugsley - it weighs as much as a downhill bike, and doesn't have the suspension that I'm used to, but the big wheels make me feel like I can do no wrong. They instill a confidence that suspension never could. And we burned, really burned. I was sweating bullets and feeling bulletproof.

I stopped at the top of the canyon to take a picture and finally put on the rain shell I had stuffed in my hoodie pocket. I realized there had been a light breeze at my back the whole way up, and it stabbed through my fleece-and-cotton ensemble as though the clothes were made of water, which, for all practical properties of absorption, they were. I knew I could make it home in 20 minutes at a good clip, which is a short period of time regardless of how poorly dressed one is. But I knew it was going to hurt. And I knew how it was going to hurt. And in the novelty of the tiny, sharp flakes of wet snow swirling around me, I took a sick sort of satisfaction in that knowledge.

The descent was short, wet, muddy, and felt like I was on the verge of being sliced to pieces by a chainsaw made of ice. It was everything I needed. For the first morning in a while, I did not miss the sun.