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.

17 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anyone else I know whould have just stayed home...You ROCK, Ms. Homer!

    I'm definitly going to look at my bike(s) differently when I get to ride again in 6 weeks!

    Keith

    ReplyDelete
  3. Definitely a day I would have wussed out and stayed home....

    ReplyDelete
  4. How many miles did you manage before you turned around? Just curious.

    I took mine out yesturday in 18mile/hr winds and I thought it was murder, so your story has me wondering. I only did 6 miles into the wind before turning around. (I'm also not the biker you are.)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Awesome ride! Please tell me that’s not ice down the middle of the road already…

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous8:55 AM

    For those of you not in Juneau, the weather yesterday was so bad that ALL tours off the visiting cruise ships were cancelled, including the zipline tour at Eaglecrest, because of high winds. It was a real Juneau weather day.

    ReplyDelete
  7. It was so bad I lay in bed last night worried about trees falling on the house.......and my poor dog almost left the ground during a particularly forceful gust. It was N A S T Y!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous12:29 PM

    One of your best entries in my book. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous4:38 PM

    I hiked the new road up Eaglecrest in July that you rode. I'm impressed. Steep and rocky!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anonymous7:49 PM

    Your description of the moment you and the wind reached "an eerie sort of equilibrium" is magnificent. Indeed, the writing is really good throughout. This is perhaps the most lyrical, wonderful post you have put up on the blog thus far. Thank you, from one writer (who's been making his living at this wretched craft for more than 25 years now) to another.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great post. Remember, whenever you are fighting the wind, at some point it will be pushing you along!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I barely made it to my mailbox and back with all of this wind. You must be doing penance for something REALLY bad... :-)
    Cynthia in the Valley

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sara, I think that was a 35 mile ride, thereabouts. The wind was mostly in my face on the way home. It was probably gusting to 40 mph, and was 25-30 mph sustained.

    Juneau friends ... I actually enjoy the first few big storms of the season. I love the raw power and fight of a good fall storm. Once or twice. By late September, of course, they're just depressing. October ... ugh.

    Leslie ... ha ha, you totally got it. I wanted to call it a "bikegasm," but that didn't seem appropriate for my PG-rated blog. But I do have to say, it was pretty incredible. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wow, 43mph in wet, foggy conditions on a MTB in full rain gear! If that doesn't excite you nothing will.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Jill:

    Loved that description. I know what you're talking about - I got into Juneau on the evening ferry from Sitka last May 14th, and just riding into town from the Ferry Terminal down Egan Drive (I didn't know there was any other way) in rush hour traffic, 40 degree temps, a very strong headwind, driving rain and all the black slush kicked up by the cars was enough of an ordeal. Sitka was shorter but worse: the ferry gets in at 1.00 a.m. and it was snowing on May 11th!

    In the Yukon the weather was sunnier, but I got frostbite in the fingers riding the long downhills into Kluane Lake in the midnight sun - Kluane lake itself was of course Kluane Skating Rink.

    Of course, I'm only 67 years old, but the whole summer in "your fair State" was a huge adventure. I envy you, living up there.

    John Berry

    ReplyDelete
  16. Every time you write I feel like I'm right there with you, experiencing the wind, the rain, the cold, all of it. The orgasm would be a nice bonus :too -).

    ReplyDelete