Saturday, February 1, 2014

After The Rain

After forty days of no rain, Thursday’s drizzle was a welcome relief to the simmering burnt mountain. Smoldering embers and roots hidden from sight lingered from the blaze of two weeks ago. Swaths of ash spread over the seared blackened hillside like webs of white lace casually thrown over now barren ground.  Red colored fire retardant edged the borders embraced by the foliage that survived. The light sprinkle gently quenched the scorched earth with a cold northern dampness that brought the hope of more to follow.  

Fine smoke particles clung in mid-air stirred by the daily ebbs of on-shore, off-shore winds had overstayed their welcome. The precipitation washed the air clean into something breathable once more. 

Saturday dawned to a crispness of winter with a clear, cool blue sky and temperatures in the 40s F. The southern sun slowly warmed the day and I rode out rather late in the morning with a backpack full of chill reducing layers. My lungs breathed deep and I met up with Matt to ride up Glendora Mountain Road. The fire had skirted the road and only two places where the damage was visible from the two hair pin turns of the Colby Trail. The sky was brilliant, the sun pleasant and the wind moderate.

The few minutes of pedaling indoors I completed this week never matched the struggle of heart, lungs and legs as I pedaled my bike up the terrain. About seven miles into the ride, I suggested that Matt should also train with a backpack of weight to improve his fitness. It was at this point where I knew that the goal was always four more miles than the usual turn around point of the shed. Fortunately, John C. a co-worker of Matt riding down the mountain, joined us a mile from Newman’s point. John having ridden to Fork Plus Four, updated us on the weather status. The wind gusts were “40 mph” and strong enough to nearly stop him. My legs must thank John for this bit of information. And as if on cue, we turned the corner at Newman’s Point to be hit with a blast of wind. 

The going was a bit slower, and I wanted to wimp out. The invisible nature of this dynamic daemon put me on edge. Being a feather weight, the buffeting can send me across the lane or over the side without a warning. Still the air was good. The heart beating and the legs whirring.

At the shed, the electrolyte and bonk-breaker bar consumed. The toasty warm dry layers were donned. It was time to travel back. The pace was slow for downhill. We stopped at Newman’s for photos and at the First Saddle. John C. had excellent downhill form. His feet immediately locked into a nine and three o'clock position. Proper form and the best physics for the bike tire and the pavement. The outer leg on the curves straightened and then he returned to the three and nine stance.

Below Palm Drive we happened upon Ron and Dixie. We stopped and chatted about Ron’s goal of the King of the Mountain, Planet Ultra's three 100-mile centuries he was training for. Mulholland, Breathless Agony and Heartbreak Hundred.


 John Cat.



 Ron and Dixie

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