Monday, September 8, 2008

Worst case scenario...Part 2

If you give a schitt about continuity, read Part 1 here.

After roughly an hour of climbing, the light gets beyond sketchy and one member of my crew suggests that it's time to get the artificial light running. There are a few machinations and some MacGyver-type stuff to get one person's light functioning fully, but ultimately we're all suited up for phase two, in the dark. The sprinkle is turning to rain. It's not heavy, but it's an element. The trail isn't mucky to the point of being impassable, but everything is slippery, everything has an added layer of complexity. This ride is as much about skill as physical endurance. I'm beyond my anaerobic threshold at this point.

The ride continues. By this point, I have faced two of my three worst fears on this ride. One, I've tweaked my shoulder twice when my rear wheel slipped on a wet root across the trail, and while it hurt, it wasn't the sick pain I associate with actual injury. Two, I'm not going to win any races any time soon, but I'm keeping up, on a ridiculous trail, in the rain, in the dark, on a single speed. Number three? Well there's a night-time decent coming up...

The ride continues, over rocks and roots, creek crossings, log bridges, just past the half-way point there are steady patches of snow on the trail, and the sprinkling rain has become sleet, and it's turning into snow. I'm hurting, and I'm laughing, this is one of the best rides I've ever been on. Somehow, it wouldn't be as good if it were run-of-the-mill. It wouldn't be as fun if it were easy. We mountain bike to face adversity, greater adversity makes every aspect of riding better. I'm far more sharply attuned to this ride. My mind is quiet, and focused. I'm in the moment. Not many earthly endeavors give me that.

Past the gnarly switchbacks, over deepening snow patches, close to the top, I come upon the leading member of our ride. He's waiting, and he's got a smile on his face. I un-clip and hop off my bike. There's now a light snow falling on us, and it's pitch black. We're almost at nine thousand feet of elevation. Even in the dark, I can see the snowflakes nearly glowing in the dark, it's ethereal.

'This is a magic ride'. I get a laugh of agreement, "Exactly, that's exactly how I would describe it" is the disembodied reply. At this point, we're nearly to the lake. It's cold, wet, becoming untenable, but we've nearly bagged the climb, no one's stopping. Of course, there is still the decent, and my feet are completely hands are getting there...the precipitation is only continuing. But my group is strong, and we're feeding off of each others' enthusiasm. An easy ride wouldn't have evoked this response. Facing adversity made it better. The weather had turned against us, when we hoped it wouldn't, and that turned out to be the element that made it better, not worse. Of course...we do still have to get down. The lake's not far now...

Stay tuned for Part 3...

No comments: