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.