Cold Rain and Go (Day Eleven)
The State of Utah welcomed us with rain. Literally, as soon as we crossed the border, it started raining. Having most of my seven-month cycling career have taken place in a rainy climate, it’s probably fair to say that I’ve done more riding in the rain than in the sun. So, it didn’t bother of us, at least not at first. The only problem was that the fog, clouds and weather prevented us from having many views (again, just at first). Once the temperatures dropped, though, things cleared up so that we could see. But, the rain kept falling. So, with purple fingers and numb toes, we chased the sun.
Once we found the elusive yellow ball of heat, it was pretty easy to get warmed up again. What the sun didn’t provide, the ten-mile hill did. We both felt strong, though, so it was actually enjoyable to keep a fast pace moving up the hills. We were riding for the burn. We do it because we can.
Some of the boulder configurations looked fake; Car-sized rocks stacked on top of each other, as if it were meant to be that way. Who placed them that way? How’d they get there? For some reason, the bluffs, as a backdrop for these boulders, reminded me of the ‘Road Runner’ cartoon. Not sure why, though.
When we got to the top of that first summit and saw the elevation sign that’s always a reward, we dropped down the back side into an enormous valley. It could only be described as vast. Despite the descent, we were still at 6800 feet, and there were clouds. When they were pushed away, mammoth mountain faces emerged. They sat, majestically, at the end of a long road that stretched seemingly forever. It was straight as a board, and as such, it made spacial traits difficult to measure. So, we just cranked toward them, pedaling on this long, straight stretch. It was a high-plains wonder, as the fields leading to more foothills went on for infinite stretches, their colors seeming to melt one to the next. We pedaled and pedaled. And pedaled. Pedaled some more. Those mountains just never seemed to get any closer. It was great (true, on some other days it might have been frustrating, but not today). We spun it out for 15 miles or more on that same road, the giant range never getting any closer.
Some great wildlife sightings: A) a rattlesnake. I almost ran her over. I saw her sitting there and swerved out of her way. She sat motionless (thankfully) but I was close enough to be amazed at the way she looked, and she looked amazing. The pattern of her scales was deliberate. It was symmetrical and tight. It had purpose and form that had been time-tested. She was a tight, singular muscle. I’m glad that our little meeting ended without incident, save my amazement. B) a hawk or larger bird of prey. It was probably two hundred yards away, but the sheer size of the creature enabled me to see it drop down and pick up lunch. Couldn’t tell what was on the menu, but its days were over. The bird had reddish wings, or looked to have them at a distance. C) large anthills. I’m talking enormous. They were about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, some of them. They looked like they were alive, there were so many ants on them. I wish I could take one back to Seattle and ‘re-plant’ it in my friend Jesse Evavold’s chair at work. I would distract him so that he didn’t notice it, then he’d sit down and the ants would go to town on Evavold’s bum. It would be hilarious!
When we stopped for lunch, we’d not even broken out the food when, all of the sudden, a fast moving, deadly storm moved in, and moving in fast. As we watched, it came up with all of its darkness like nothing I’ve ever seen. We began to joke and employed our mantra that helped us work to get ready in Seattle “If it ain’t rainin’, we ain’t trainin!’. But, then we heard the ominous sound of thunder and saw lightning less than two miles away. Being smack dab in the middle of two mountain ranges and sticking out like sore thumbs, we were in a perfect place to get smoked by lightning. It was time to take evasive measure.
Moral of the story for me: it’s great to have the opportunity to pedal fast. Whether it’s being driven by the need to avoid disaster (thunderstorm), to approach something grand (mountain range) or just to push yourself (enjoying the burn), it’s just great to get those wheels turning.
For the Families of the Fallen…To the Limit!
Care Creates Community,