Archive for the ‘Biking’ Tag
Saturday evening we drove home from a bike race up in Park City, happy, tired and covered in dirt. When we turned into our quiet town, we looked up to see this welcoming us home:
It arched, end to end, over Alpine. We followed its ribbon of color to see if we could find the elusive rainbow’s end. Of course we never could quite reach it, but the colors were so vivid, it really did seem we could reach out and catch hold of it.
Moments after coming home the sun broke out from behind the clouds and the rainbow was gone, but it left its imprint in my mind, along with these words by William Wordsworth:
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky;
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
Yesterday we drove away from the snow and cold to spend our Spring Break in sunny southern Utah. We found a cozy little condo in Moab and plan to spend the week out-of-doors as much as possible. We have a geologist with us, who loves to read about the different types of sandstone and how they are all affected differently by erosion. He is constantly pointing out the striations in the rock formations. We have a naturalist, too. She is on the lookout for lizards and chipmunks, and loves rubbing her fingers in soft juniper needles and smelling the sweet and pungent scent they leave. If none of the native animal species present themselves, she is just as happy greeting every dog we encounter at lookout points and parking lots. We also have an explorer. He loves the slickrock, and will run, jump, or ride off any ledge he encounters on the trail. He likes to walk up to the very edge of cliffs and drop-offs, “to see the bottom” of the stony mesas and canyons. He is on the verge of giving me a heart attack. And last, we have our own little wild thing. He answers to the very call of nature, as unpredictable as the weather. One minute he is as destructive as a tornado (he thought the cairns on the side of the trail were put there for him to knock over), the next he is sleeping in his booster seat, as immovable as a glacier.
It is going to be a fun week!
The foothills near our home are covered in sagebrush and scrub oak. A trail system for bikers, joggers, and horses winds upward through the scraggly growth, sometimes exposing startled creatures that make their homes in the hills. I’ve seen mountain bluebirds, magpies, rabbits, bats, and have fortunately avoided the rattlesnakes other mountain bikers have come across. When I’m up in the hills alone, I tend to ride quickly, not looking around. The truth is, and I’ve never admitted this, I’m afraid that one of these times I’ll run into a cougar. I even bring my ipod when I ride alone, to distract me from thinking about mountain lion teeth and claws.
The other evening I was riding through the hills a little closer to dusk than I would have liked. Places where the path passed under clusters of trees, the shadows felt ominous. I cranked my ipod up a little louder.
And then a heavy movement from above my head stopped me in my tracks. I braked quickly and looked up to see a huge owl, wings outsretched, settling into a perch in the branches of a scrub oak.
I shut off my ipod and inched my bike closer to the tree. The owl folded in its gray wings and hunched down between twigs and branches. Two scrappy birds, what my husband calls camp crows, shot out of the tree and began haranguing the owl with a loud and incessant cawing. The owl continued his hunch, hostile and irritated like a grumpy old man. The birds kept squawking at the owl, shouting at him to get up and move. Finally the owl couldn’t stand it any longer and lifted its expansive wings. That simple movement communicated a swiftness and power that belied the sleepiness of the great bird, and I wondered at the crows audacity in hassassing him like they did.
He flew east, and I pedaled in the opposite direction, awed by my encounter with nature – magnificent and rude. I rode the rest of the way home without my ipod, just in case, and when I got home I pulled out OWLS AND OTHER FANTASIES by Mary Oliver. I turned to page 17 and smiled as I read:
I have two feathers from the big owl. One I found near Round Pond; the other, on another day, fell as I watched the bird rise from one tree and flap into another. As the owl rose, some crows caught sight of it, and so began another scrimmage in their long battle. The owl wants to sleep, but the crows pursue it and when it settles a second time the crows – now a dozen – gather around and above it, and scream into its face, with open beaks and wagging tongues. They come dangerously close to its feet, which are huge and quick. The caught crow is a dead crow. But it is not in the nature of crows to hide or cower — it is in their nature to gather and to screech and to gamble in the very tree where death stares at them with molten eyes. What fun, to aggravate the old bomber! What joy, to swipe at the tawny feathers even as the bird puffs and hulks and hisses.
But finally the owl rises from the trees altogether and climbs and floats away, over two or three hills, and the crows go off to some other merriment.
And I walk on, over the shoulder of summer and down across the red-dappled fall; and, when it’s late winter again, out through the far woodlands of the Provincelands, maybe another few hundred miles, looking for the owl’s nest, yes, of course, and looking at everything else along the way.
On Friday, when I emerged from my sewing room with a large burn on the top of my hand, my husband asked, “Isn’t there a class you can take on how to safely use an iron?” He wasn’t being condescending. He was concerned. And also a little irritated. It’s not my first mishap with an iron.
The next day we took the kids to pre-ride the bike course in Draper where my husband and three oldest kids raced today. When I wrecked on my mountain bike and lost four inches of skin from my left forearm, my husband said, “I’m sorry you got hurt, but it was really cool to see you take one for the team like that.”
1) It’s WAY cooler to injure yourself biking than sewing. Now that I’ve wrecked, I might even start ordering those cute clothes I’m always eyeing in the Title 9 catalog. I always look at the models and think I’m not athletic enough, but wrecking makes me legitimate. Like getting a rejection letter from a book editor.
2) Never brake at an obstacle in the path. Slow down when approaching said obstacle, but upon reaching it, let your momentum carry you over/down/through.
3) It’s better to laugh than to cry. When I hit the ground I felt my helmeted-head bounce off the dirt, which made me queasy, plus it hurt to move. I decided to indulge in a little cry. But before I could get started, my husband and our little crew were there, peering over me to see if Mommy was okay. They were so worried, and I felt so stupid, that laughing was definitely the best option.
4) I’ve been surpassed. I was supposed to pre-ride the 12 and under course with my oldest, Hunter. He is nine. I used to ride faster than him. Now he is a better biker than me (he sailed right through the obstacle – which, by the way, was a very steep hill with a shallow gulley at the bottom). That is okay because I still have three kids who are younger than him. I have nine more years to ride the 12 and under course. After that, I’m in trouble.
5) If you can help it, it’s better not to take one. But if you must, do it for the team.