A Winters Ride

A Winter’s Ride

My front wheel is in the air and I can hear my laughter bouncing all over the inside of my helmet. Gently I roll off the throttle, just a bit, bringing the front softly back to the pavement. On the throttle again I’m accelerating at a pleasantly astonishing rate. Ohhh, this is gonna be fun.

We had been sitting at a crossroads, the gateway to the countryside, when the light changed. Max was ready, launching half a block before I was even in gear, but when I clicked in I was doing my own launching. Launching so enthusiastically I power wheelied, very unexpectedly, across four lanes of highway in front of who knows how many cars full of who knows how many people waiting patiently for the light to change. Wonder what they thought of the show? Anyway kinda fun to show off.

Further down the straight I see Max disappear over the top of a hill. Seconds later I’m at the base and cannot resist cracking the throttle open a bit more, just to hear my bike bark. As I go from horizontal to vertical I see past the top of the hill, finding in the center of the light blue forever a quarter moon. Up, up, up, bike barking like a neighbors dog on a hot August night, I wonder if I might go airborne. Just a little more throttle might send me to that moon in the middle of my vision, flying, free. I smile, when just past the crest gravity refuses to loosen its grip , knowing there are more hills ahead.

Not many opportunities for such rides in December. Sunny, in the 40’s, my winter riding gear (cordura suit, wool socks, insulated gloves, balcava) is just right. Everything is just right. Gone is the leafy canopy of green normally covering the landscape. Instead are the grey, brown tree skeletons flanked by the half hearted green of the winter growth grasses.

I set up for the first of a series of alternating turns; move to the outside of the lane, hook the heel of my outside boot in the frame, slide my rear on the seat to the inside, point my knee to the ground, and look as deeply into the first turn as I can. I lean with my bike, hands resting ever so lightly on the grips, just barely touching, so that I can feel the surface of the road. Is it smooth? How smooth? Any slide? Is that gravel I feel? Is that paint from the line? Feedback from my rear too, as it rests lightly on the seat for the same reason., same questions. Soon I’m at the apex so it’s time to roll on the throttle. This time my bike growls as I load the engine, done gradually so as to not use up my finite allocation of road stick. As I pick up the bike my acceleration increases until it’s time to get on the brakes and do it again for the next turn. God this is fun!

Over time this road has become my friend. I know all its features by touch, sound, smell, and sight but more importantly I know its feel. The way its curves and elevation changes dance in perfect harmony with the music of the mountains, farms, trees, and lives nearby. On days like today I am in phase with that harmony. I use my bike to dance with the road.

Today is about celebrating being alive.

December 20,2004