Yesterday I had the pleasure of showing Marathon Man Leonard one of my favorite uphill grinds. I call it a "grind," but it was only two miles of switchbacks. Put that on the tail end of 14 mostly gentle downhill miles tho... knowing you have the uphill reverse going home and it feels like grinding to my head and knees. Those last two miles are steep, as in low gear steep... with only the occasional optimistic social call to second or third, you know, so they don't feel neglected. I often wonder (actually, only when I'm riding it on my big ole 29'er) how much difference a road bike would make on that section?
The morning broke calm but chilly; 39 degrees, for those of you who have a need to know. Yes, summer is rapidly slipping through the holey pockets of my blue jean shorts. I built the first fire of the season to warm up the living room up a bit, which amounted to simply turning a little knob at the bottom of our creature comfort gas fireplace. I remember the days of racing winter, wild predawn trips through snow and mud to fell standing dead "widow-maker" trees for firewood... with a 14 inch toy of a chainsaw and a gallon of premix fuel. I much prefer the knob.
Bobbie built a fire for our stomachs... oatmeal... but it went out as soon as I stepped outside. Leonard was ready and waiting on us, as usual, a tad anxious because his legs were still recuperating from the Imogene Pass Race. Bobbie led the way, cutting frosted morning air like hot buttered rum. Yum. We took our good ole time going to Ridgway in an effort to hold wind chill factors to tolerable levels. Bleeding oak brush and a touch-o-gold in trees warmed our eyes and hearts.
Four miles beyond Ridgway we stopped to shed too warm clothing at the base of Log Hill (the grinder). Bobbie thought it best to beg off because of pain in her knee, saying she'd meet us back at Ridgway Town Park. We bid goodbye, found our lowest gears and cranked away.
Leonard didn't show much sign of the leg fatigue I had been counting on to slow him the hell down. I managed to keep the Old Gizzard within attacking distance, tho, in case he tired and I got to feeling frisky toward the top (neither happened). We paused at the top long enough to curse the hill and each other, then cruised rolling paved roads in Log Hill Village, through groves of old growth cedar and pinion that scented our air. A full sun beamed, unfiltered by clouds. If I told you that it was an absolutely stellar day, it would be a monumental understatement.
A couple more miles put us at Inspiration Point, a craggy escarpment of colorful, pointy rocks that overlooks Pleasant Valley... lapping right up to the Sneffels range of the San Juan Mountains. With the weight of the "grind" still in our legs, we dismounted and wobbled over to the edge, just like you would imagine two old men who refuse to act their age would do. It's oddly comforting for me to have a fellow geriatric man-child to share wobbles and pain with. We don't dare discuss it, but it shows... and I don't feel so alone in my own decrepit body.
Standing on the edge of the escarpment, Leonard's first words were, "I'll be coming up here again, that's for sure." We had a lunch of power bars and peanut butter. It revived us somewhat... enough to talk and act out like a couple of teenagers. Next thing you know shirts are coming off and two old men are doing Dumb and Dumber things on the edge of a cliff.
Well why not, these days are numbered... as are the days of Autumn.
|Playgirl centerfold... ah, the senior edition|
|Well, at least I kept my shirt on! Leonard dared me to ride out there. 45 years ago, I would have.|
|As you can see, the layers of rock are extremely undercut. We took turns inching further out to the edge... which says something about the intoxicating effects of adrenaline. It should be a banned substance.|