Friday, September 09, 2005
Can't ask for more
Last night’s ride was a reminder of the wonderful mix of elements a mountain bike ride can contain: fear, pain, joy, satisfaction. All packed into a two-hour, after-dinner trail ride. Unable to resist a beautiful evening after so much rain, I dashed out for a ride up Powerline Pass, hoping I could reach the saddle and descend before dark. The final approach to the pass is a brutal climb—steep, lots of loose scree and big exposure. With September nights turning cold and no one above me on the trail, it was no place for a bad fall. With every year that goes by I grow a little more timid on solo rides, so after reaching the pass and snapping a few pictures, I nervously descended the side-slope trail back to the main route through the valley. A herd of Dall sheep was settling in for the night on a nearby south-facing slope.
After stopping to put on a jacket for the high-speed, stream-crossing cruise back to my truck, I let ’er fly, slowing down occasionally only to limit the soaking of my clothes. After passing a small handful of other riders making their way home, I stopped for a cow moose and two calves that were blocking the trail. The delay caused the riders to group up, and we made our way back to the parking lot together, chatting about bikes, the ride, and our wet, freezing toes. A group of strangers who didn’t even exchange names, riding and talking as if we had all started out together. One of the greatest parts of mountain biking.
As we neared the end of the valley, Denali and Mount Foraker came into view as the sun was setting and the lights of Anchorage were popping out for the evening. Nights like that are hard to beat, and are even sweeter when you know that they’re almost gone for the season.