Wednesday, October 28, 2009

First day of Pugsley season

(photo by Michael Penn)

Poor, neglected Pugsley. I finally headed out to my storage unit to extract him from cobwebs and dust. He still has the tiny road racing saddle I used as a placeholder after I stole the original seat to use on the Great Divide (and subsequently wore it to shreds and threw it away.) The lube is probably six months old. I don't even know what's up with the brakes. Much maintenance is needed, but today it did not matter. There was snow on the Eaglecrest Road, and it was fully necessary to get out and lay some first tracks.

I have no problem riding most of this steep road in the summer, but it's a beast with a 36-pound bike atop wet powder with a film of ice. I walked most of the way up with a group of hikers, who, like me, just wanted to get out and enjoy what feels like the season's "first snow."

It was cold and windy at the top — a small taste of the raging northeasterly Taku blast that is reportedly on its way.

I was dressed in rain gear rather than frigid-wind-blocking snow gear, a mistake I make a lot this time of year. So I couldn't linger up high as long as I would have liked.

Looking out over the top of the ski hill, Fish Creek canyon, and the Mendenhall Wetlands far below.

Much of the road had iced up by the time I went down, so I skirted to the side and rode the shoulder — with occasional forays over frozen tundra — through an exhilarating blast of wet powder. Pugsley's tires, still coated in spring mud, effortlessly floated on top of the ice-crusted surface, and for a few beautiful minutes, all was silent except for the wind. Silence and speed ... those are the origins of bliss.

I wonder who missed it more ... me or Pugsley.