Saturday, December 01, 2007

Two beautiful days

Date: Nov. 29 and 30
Mileage: 21.2 and 80.4
Hours: 2:15 and 6:15
November mileage: 793
Temperature upon departure: 28 and 25
November rainfall: 3.94"

This is one of those posts in which I tried to decide on a favorite picture, but couldn't do it, so I'm just going to post seven. It was two days of regular rides with spectacular scenery.

On Thursday, I rode the trails out in the Mendenhall Valley. It was a bit of a "recovery" ride. That is, recovery from my failed camping attempt. Despite being really glad to have met Rebecca (who is amazingly nice, I agree, and who has invited me to come visit her again in the near future), I am a little bummed about missing out on the camping experience. The next time I try, (hopefully this weekend) there are likely to be windchills near 25 below, so I will not be able to venture too far from my house (can't pass up a chance to experience temperatures that low when they happen, although it will probably be rather brutal for a first-time try, and I don't want to take any big risks.)

So my trail ride was a recovery ride in the psychological sense. It was everything I needed. The weather was perfect, just perfect, and the trails, though still devoid of snow, were frozen to a hard sheen. Mountain biking does not get better than this in the place where I live. It really doesn't.

I stopped for 20 minutes to just sit on the beach and watch the alpenglow move across the Mendenhall Glacier as the sun set.

Today I had hoped to do a longer ride, but I slept and slept the morning away, and it was 11 a.m. before I got out the door. In a place where darkness descends just after 3 p.m., it was a terrible waste of sunlight. All my good training intentions had me hoping to increase my long rides by 30 minutes to an hour each weekend. But between the temptation to sleep in and my evening plans, I've had a hard time carving out cycling windows longer than six hours. I'm still making encouraging progress, though. The six-hour rides feel easier each week.

Herbert Glacier. This is view I was hoping to wake up to Thursday morning. Instead I was out there near sunset today, making frosty figure-8s on the frozen mudflats. The mountains were bathed in yellow light. So much beauty.

How can I ride my bicycle so much and continue to be so awestruck by the experience? It's a mystery to me, and one I don't plan to solve anytime soon. Sometimes, when I am having a good day, I remember a thought that occurred to me way back in 2001, as I was swimming across a lake in eastern Texas. Geoff and I were criss-crossing the country in my Geo Prism, held by necessity to a budget of less than $100 per week. He was in the woods cooking green beans and cream of mushroom soup for dinner. I hadn't bathed in days and was sitting on the shoreline when a random flash of inspiration convinced me to strip to my skivvies and jump in. The cold water chewed at my capillaries until my skin went numb. But there was something very real in the feeling, and when I looked to the other shoreline, I knew I could make it there. I just knew it, like it had already happened. I swam toward the open water without fear, nearly blind against bright hues of red and gold shimmering on the lake's surface. At one point I rolled over on my back and gasped at the nuclear sunset stretched across the horizon, like a ceiling splattered violently with a million cans of paint. I didn't even have enough money to see a movie, but in that moment, the entire sky belonged only to me. And I thought, right there, that I would never find another moment in my adult life that would make me feel so free.

But I keep re-discovering that moment, everywhere.

I've been really lucky to be a witness to a lot of beauty and goodness in this world, and for that I am grateful, every day.


  1. Yes I guess it's not so much about what you have but more of what you experience.

    Thanks for that. Really nice photographs.


  2. You wrote:
    "How can I ride my bicycle so much and continue to be so awestruck by the experience?"

    I think the answer lies in the question. If you haven't already, rent a movie called "What the bleep do we know anyway?" and watch it at least a few times. Pause it as needed and think about what's being said. Discuss it with Geoff or whomever else you can get to watch it with you.

    I think you'll get the answer you're looking for, and much more.


  3. Fantastic blog and series of adventures, Jill. This is just fantastic.

    Happy riding - and I'll be reading along.

    ~ janson!

  4. Thanks for the post. I'm also struck by your sentence: "How can I ride my bicycle so much and continue to be so awestruck by the experience?" Also by the ensuing line: "It's a mystery to me, and one I don't plan to solve anytime soon." Let us revel in what we cannot comprehend, such as the blessing of the bicycle.


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