Thursday, January 31, 2008

Five Hundred Rides

I looked down at the snow running beneath my tires, and realized that none had ever ridden here before. The beauty of fresh-fallen snow is lost on the little animals that first break the trails, isn't it? Do the rabbits whose tracks cross back-and-forth, diving from willow to willow, or burrowing into brushpiles, have fun? Do they laugh? Do the mice which pop up randomly and then disappear back into the same hole lick the snow from their whiskers? Can they taste my tires? Do the coyotes run this very same trail, masters of the terrain, king of the food chain, need to hide from anything? Opportunists ready to ruin somebody's day, will they find a tasty housecat? But no person has broken this trail. Freshie. Quiet, serene. Clean. Still. Alone, surrounded by the city. With a layer of ice underneath just when you least expect it. Going around a corner, climbing the Castle Wall a slight mis-step will send you and your bike into the moat. Will the beavers come to look, to slap the water with their tails, to tell the story back at the lodge? I look ahead, in the darkness the white stripe of the singletrack, my lights unnecessary, intrusive, even unwise as they keep my focus too close. Nix 'em. Plenty of ambient light, reflections from the overcast. The white line ahead broken suddenly by a blankness, a blackness indicating a trail which has caved into the river. Do I brake? Swerve? Jump? Panic? Decide fast! Instant broken something, better look sharp!
I have broken my leg here, wearing these gloves. Falling off one of these battlements. I have broken my other leg on Loveland, wearing these gloves. I have flatted in these gloves. Dented my frame. Busted my hanger. Bent handlebars. Lost my keys. Can gloves be unlucky? How is it that I still live, that my bike still goes, that I still have ten fingers if it is so? How many rides have these gloves seen? Cold, snowy, rainy snowy, snowy icy, cold sunny, icy sunny, dark dry cold, below zero insane, lost in a blizzard, happy rides? How many miles? How many lifetimes?
My bike, it knows the way. Has been here before, withstood the trials, healed the injuries, comes here in its dreams, waits patiently for the Tuesday communion. Weather notwithstanding, the worse the better. So many rides, so many times, so many friends. Perfectly adapted to its intended use, evolution being what it is. So many parts cast off, selected against, killed in violent events of punctuated equilibrium: forks, tires, chains, derailleurs, rims, chainrings, cogs, tape, tubes, dozens of patches. HUNDREDS of patches. Ten years now, once a week all year, not quite every year. 8x52=416 Four hundred sixteen rides?
Four hundred sixteen rides, plus more. Sundays along Bear Creek, 3x25=75. The epic to Estes Park. Commutes. Green Mountain. Apex. Chimney Gulch. Five hundred rides on this old bike? Six hundred? A thousand? Can it be? Does a bike grow a soul?

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