Date: Nov. 4
November mileage: 122.3
Temperature upon departure: 37
Don't you hate the mornings that you wake up feeling a lot less than spectacular? Maybe you have this lingering dull pain in your mouth, and a headache too because you were up for several hours in the night worrying that you have a cavity. And your legs still burn from weightlifting two days ago and your caffeine's not kicking in and you know you have a heavy afternoon workload waiting for you at the office and you think some Chips Ahoy and a nap sounds about perfect. These mornings are even worse when they happen on the only 25-hour day of the year. But even without that extra hour weighing on your conscience, there's the weather forecast calling for "mostly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of showers" to consider. Letting any morning that promises to be not only long but dry pass by in bed is an unforgivable waste.
It was in this condition I slogged out on my mountain bike this morning, anticipating ice on the road and hoping to hit some trails if I could muster the motivation to pedal all the way out to the valley. I caught the tailwind north and slipped onto the Mendenhall trail system as soon as I could, winding through the neighborhoods and homeless camps atop frosty mounds of mud.
I crossed over to the glacier moraine and continued to ponder turning around. The mud was becoming softer, and anything that wasn't mud was an outright puddle. Splatters of wood chips, dead falls and other beaver carnage obstructed the trail. I practiced my moving dismount to jump the gnawed-off logs without stopping, until I finally splashed down into a huge stretch of beaver dam overflow. Piloting the mountain bike like a paddle boat through the hub-deep cold water, I nearly bogged down in the silt before I made it to shore. But I hammered hard up the last knoll and cleared the swamp without getting so much as a knee brace wet. I stopped on the edge of Dredge Lake to stomp out the water in my booties and soak in the satisfaction of my small victory. It was there I first noticed the sky shining through a patchwork of thinning clouds, backlit by a hidden sun and bursting with rays that nearly reached the ground. The world was suddenly infused with shadows, and light, and slivers of warmth. It felt like newfound energy, and renewal, and, come to think of it, the aftermath of a pretty fun cyclocross-type obstacle course, which definitely demanded to be re-ridden, only faster.
Funny how some mornings start out with head/muscle/toothache grumpiness, and end with a 40-mile mountain bike ride. Don't you love mornings like that?