60°, sunny, calm
are slop outside so I'm waiting for things to dry out a bit before a little dirt road mountain bike ride. I'm not a huge fan of skiing when it's like this…snow sticks to skins and it's sort of this steam room, hot effect. I'll wait 3-4 days for things to settle in and the spring skiing season to start in earnest. It's also been a good day to switch equipment for the season:
skis for lighter skis that are better for long skins in and strapped to the pack.
– avalanche gear in exchange for crampons and ice axes
– switch out roller ski
pole ferules for asphalt skiing
– tune up the mountain bike.
– break out the crust skiing
skate ski set-up. Old poles and old skis for the most fun you can have on a pair of skis.
We're entering the best time of the year.
TODAY: Slight chance of snow showers early in the morning… then a chance of rain
and snow showers late in the morning. Snow and rain in the afternoon.
Snow accumulation up to 3 inches. Highs 40 to 46. East winds 10 to 15
mph in the afternoon.
TONIGHT: Snow. Snow may be heavy at times. Snow accumulation of 10 to 16 inches. Lows in the upper 20s. North winds 10 to 15 mph.
snow in the morning…then snow likely in the afternoon. Additional
snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches. Highs 36 to 42. Northeast winds 10
to 15 mph in the afternoon.
Fog banks in thick this morning. A May storm, with promises of deep snow, or perhaps nothing. A morning to ride. Or to run. I decide to run. The light tromp of the pace on the dirt, moist, cold, spring. Engulfed in my own world, shrouded by the white. The only sounds – the footsteps, my own breathing, the tinkle of Stella's collar next to me. Thick is the only way I can describe it. I labor up the first hill – three weeks at sea level and a wicked cold will do that, but once the downhills begin I fall into a rhythm, and the pine trees, some freshly cut, some ancient, surround me, smells of pine wafting through the moisture. I am wet. My fleece hoody with a coat of dew, a light sweat on my legs, torso and head. Over dressed slightly, yet it's nippy out too. Wind down the trails and around the lake, completely blinded to the world. As I pass, the sound of a duck family flapping across the water surface echoes across the fog. It could be anywhere – northern Manitoba, a distant lake in Yellowstone or my very own backyard. I begin the climb back home. Falling into rhythm, breathing harder, heart beat faster. Up we go, Stella in tow, playing nice and grinning, for she could run this loop in 1/4 the time it takes me to run it. Up, up, up, over the top, up the switchback, past the bench and then down again. A finish sprint to the road, opening it up, feeling alive at 7:42 in the morning. A perfect start to a perfect foggy day, even if I do have to get a root canal in an hour.
Coolness. It turns out my dog Stella is a mountain biking fiend. Took her on her first ever ride today – nothing huge…up to five points, down 12-valve, around the ML loops…and she did phenomenally. Falls in line behind me well, keeps her distance from the tires and runs like a demon. My favorite is ripping down twisty singletrack and watching her follow with grace, lining the turns up perfectly. Truth of the matter is she does not get enough exercise on a simple walk…the girl is a runner and a worker…she was raised to be a sled dog. So mountain biking works perfectly. Nice – a new riding companion. She's even got the muddy face to boot.
Cool walk last night, and a full on howl to serenade wildness and new, exciting beginnings, overlooking the Continental Divide.
Ah, so that's why I love this sport. I remember the movie "First Descent" – I think there was a line…I forget who said it…where a rider says how it's cool to put something down for awhile and then pick it back up again. This is how I feel about mountain biking right now. While I have done rides on the bike in the past two and a half years, I have not been a mountain biker. Call it whatever you want – severe burn out, injury, or just a backlash against being obsessive about most things I do – but I was perfectly content to put the bike aside for the past couple years.
I've decided to change that. And oh what a sport it is. There is something about getting up in the dawn hours, fixing some tea and oatmeal, putting on the bike clothes as the sun peaks through the large glass window of home, and riding. The heart pumping blood early in the morning, the glitter of the singletrack as the sun's rays hit the frost, the flow as the winding trail takes you where it may and the smells of spring – fresh pine, snow melting…the sacredness of the woods. To cap it off, I saw a moose feeding in a low wetland. He ran along side me for a bit, 75 yards away, before letting me go.
Oh yeah, that's why I like this sport. And that's why I live here. Pilot back in commission. Time to go for another ride, right now! And time to find work in B-town – for no other reason than I want the commute. The commute = ride time, each and every day.