Friday, September 11, 2009

Bikecstacy

Rain was hitting the window sideways when I suited up for my ride - polar fleece, plastic coat, hat, neoprene gloves, rain pants and Xtratufs. Dry feet are important to me these days, but I dislike wearing Xtratufs. I know it's going to be a rough day when I have to resort to Xtratufs.

I wheeled my bike out into the hard wind and driving rain, not stoked about riding but determined to at least try to rebuild my saddle callouses and spinning legs ahead of a planned Golden Circle tour at the end of the month. Too much hiking/running makes bikers' butts soft. Time to get it in gear. Just in time for beautiful weather - 51 degrees, 30 mph east winds, and a 100 percent chance of rain.

I put my head down and rode up to Eaglecrest because, well, it's a place to go. As I climbed, the wind picked up force until it was swirling all around in apocalyptic proportions. I clenched my teeth and plowed into the deafening roar as it pushed me left and right and I sometimes, I swear, backwards. Rain stung my cheeks and poked my eyes and I started to feel nervous in that way that I do when I'm out in weather that is clearly much more powerful than I am. Fog was streaming through the air like a fire hose. I swerved to and fro in the water blast, with my front tire scraping the toes of those stupid giant Xtratufs, just trying to keep it in line until it was finally time to turn around.

Gusting air pushed at my back as I bounded down the rough gravel, picking up a momentum that rivaled the wind speed. The parking lot below the gravel road was shrouded in a thick cloud, so much so that I couldn't see the pavement until I was on it. As I began to drop down the canyon, a roaring gust of wind barreled up from behind me until it was right on top of me, pushing me, faster and faster, until the wind and I reached an eerie sort of equilibrium. Everything went quiet. It was right at that moment that I blasted out of the fog, with a sweeping view of the canyon and the mountains across the Channel, through a curtain of sideways rain that made everything look like it was shimmering. All around me, tree branches were whipping; grass was flattened against the ground; and I was floating through a bubble of calm. I felt weightless, freed of all friction and resistance, riding in perfect harmony with the wind. My odometer registered 43 mph. My heart pounded. I sucked in fast gulps of air. My whole body vibrated, consumed by an almost overwhelming feeling of elation ... bikecstacy.

The best part about it is that it always hits when you least expect it.