Sunday, July 27, 2008

New road

Date: July 27
Mileage: 35.4
July mileage: 593.3
Temperature: 50

As this soggy month trickles to a close (and we all just want it to be over already), I have been dredging the dregs of motivation for reasons to go out for a ride. No longer can I drag myself out there with half-hearted musings about how fresh everything smells in the rain, or scoldings about all of the chocolate chips I have eaten this month, or ambitions to train for races in which I may or may not even be able to afford to show up at the starting line. No, I don't want to ride today. Simple and plain.

But Geoff and I started talking about possible new routes yesterday and he asked me if I had seen the new road the city is building to the top of Eaglecrest Ski Area. They've been at it all summer, they're probably halfway up the mountain by now, and I had never even bothered to check it out. I envisioned a gentle access road switchbacking all the way up to the ridge, where I could chug to the top, grab a narrow deer trail through the pristine wilderness, and ride down to the other side of the island, where Christian Bale would be waiting in his yacht to whisk me away to places where the sun comes out in July. It was a beautiful dream, and I was suddenly excited to set out Sunday morning on an exploration ride.

But Sunday morning did not make it easy, with a hard wind out of the south, pissing rain and the temperature just a click or two above 50. I just put my head down and squinted at the white line on the road for 15 miles. But as I rounded the final curve to the ski area, I looked up just long enough to see a dark brown scar carved into the slope. There really was a new road there, and I half hoped it would end in a half mile so I could go home and take a hot shower already, and half hoped it would take me to the west side of Douglas Island, my imaginary yacht, and the warmer climes I deserved.

The road was steep and rough and a beast to climb, which in itself was a nice diversion. I redlined up the final pitch and found an abrupt dead end about two miles beyond the pavement, so I set down my bike and waded through calf-deep mud around a couple of construction vehicles to see what lay beyond. There wasn't much - a swamp, a few distressed spruce trees, and the profile of the ridge still hundreds of feet above the half-finished road. But there was promise ... the promise that someday soon I will be able to ride my bike all the way up these mountains; the promise of greatly expanded access to winter trails across the expanse of the Douglas Island Ridge; the promise of more miles.

I feel really excited about the possibilities of the new road, especially once the snow flies and covers up the mud and swamps with sweet, packable powder. It's not much to keep me going through this soggy summer, but I'll take it.