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Friday, October 5, 2012

Soft Pedal

Bobbie, Marathon Man Leonard and I went on a little fall bike ride to Ridgway. We took the former narrow-gauge railroad route, now a single lane county road for a good ways. It's a soft pedal, as bike rides go, wandering downstream, around Black Lake and under pockets of aspen... glowing from the watershed of a snowcapped White House Mountain.

The old railroad grade narrows into an etch of a road, blasted from red cliffs that slowly diverge and shrink into fresh cut hayfields. Cows and horses dot the lazy pastoral landscape like insects... likely unaware that this was the last cutting. The livestock's winter stores are bailed and stacked like TV dinners; they will need it to endure the long upcoming winter. 

Heading north, the Uncompaghre River corridor widens from The Crevice into something resembling a solar bowl. In the far view, aspen and oak brushed foothills below Chimney Rock and Courthouse glowed with peak-week brilliance. In the near view, old black-limbed cottonwoods competed for our attention. We basked for miles, pedaling under a canopy of yellow filtered light, smelling October's rich organic decay, taking in the calm before the storm. 

Ridgway was all a-scurry with activity and energy. It bustles like any good crossroads town does... especially when roads lead to mountains, lakes, and streams to die for. The Fly Fishing shop was filled with anglers seeking advice on appropriate lure and fly. Meanwhile, Leaf Peepers held up traffic, looking for a bite to eat. Mothers pushed toddlers in strollers, dog in tow. Off to the post office, then Mountain Market's deli for ingredients to make a picnic in town park.

We rode on to Log Hill. You see, Leonard had issued a challenge, one that I had accepted with unwitting fingers wrapped around IPA number two (or was it three?). Or maybe it was I who issued the challenge, it's all a bit hazy, now. Regardless, we somehow managed to agree that we needed to ascend this relentless switch-backed monster in under twenty minutes. I know what you are thinking; "Old Men... they are no different now than when in high school." And you would be right to think that. After all, we have no "dragons" to slay anymore so this is what we do to prop up aging egos.

Bobbie, having no testosterone, went merrily on her way... content to soft pedal through a gorgeous day. She would meet us back at town park... after we had our duel. I chugged a Gatorade and got my gears set while Leonard watered a cedar tree. He was admittedly nervous; his hands shaking as he fiddled with his odometer. I told him not to worry, that it was just his body preparing him for battle... a little dose of adrenaline. 
I set my stopwatch. 
Let's do it!

Two miles; that's all. My previous best time was 22:48, so to think I could shave ten percent was ludicrous. Leonard has been training all summer long, however, so my plan was to just try and keep him in sight and let the chips fall. 

Well, I lost sight of Leon toward the top... skinny old bastard. And of course he made it in under twenty minutes... 19:45, to be exact. 

Me? I've got some work to do... about a minute and fifteen second's worth. Maybe next time.

Leonard departed this morning, on his way to compete in the Portland (Oregon) Marathon. I told him when he hits the wall, just remember pushing a personal best on Log Hill. He'll be running at sea level, so after training all summer... running at altitude, competing in mountain races like Kendall and Imogene... he should do fine. Good Luck, Leonard.


  1. I love reading your blog and seeing your photos.

    You know, you might do better at Log Hill if you quit stopping to take photos. LOL. J/K.

  2. You just couldn't resist a picture of that vintage trailer, could you? Glad you didn't, it's a cutie. Keep pedaling!

  3. Laverne says...So what! If Leonard the Skynard did win the race this time, just wait 'til next time! Your photo's are the best! Loved the picture of Bobbie on her bike. It is beautiful here in Austin, but not like the mountains around Ouray and Ridgeway! Best wishes for you, Bobbie and Goldie for the winter months!

  4. Walden Creek Rv SteveOctober 6, 2012 at 11:27 AM

    Mark- What you doing racing Len?? I go to Walmart and challenge those big people on power carts -the ones who do not really need them- thay are just lazy- I may not win but usually place in top five!You still rock big guy! Plus no one gets better pictures! Enjoy!

  5. Travel Bug,
    And I love that you love reading the BCB :))
    It's a veritable "Love Fest" in Lovely Ouray!
    Mend up quickly, now.

    It's a necessary and magical thing, to be able to revert to boyhood as needed. Trust me on this.

    Pam and Wayne,
    That is a classic Shasta Travel Trailer. My parents and I lived on the road in one of those for over a year when I was 7 years old. I was home schooled in National Parks, on the beaches of the Pacific Ocean, and deep in the mighty Redwoods of Northern California.
    And you wonder where I got my itchy feet?

    Thanks Laverne,
    October should be a beautiful time to be in the Hill Country... I can just imagine Fredricksburg in Fall. Still, I prefer Bluebells of spring there. Enjoy.

    Thanks, Wal-Mart Steve :))
    You should come join Leonard on some of his runs... I sure wish I could, but the right lower extremity is not so cooperative anymore. I was thinking about using one of those electric chairs at Wal mart till this comment :))

    Thanks, Mark.

  6. Mark, were you homeschooled after your year on the road? We homeschooled our kids from 3rd grade on up, the only trips they got to go on was to D.C., Maine and of course lots of places in Wisconsin. We're hoping to help homeschool our grandchildren on the road occasionally though!

  7. Pam and Wayne,
    No... just home schooled that time on the road, then back to the "factories." But that year on the road left an indelible mark (no pun). It gave me an appreciation, which is a type of education, for the outdoors, traveling and living in a little box on wheels, staying close to nature... and so on. I wish I knew all the effects it had on me... some are subconscious, I'm sure.
    thanks, and that is cool that you will take your grand kids on such an adventure.


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