Saturday, September 17, 2005

Sanity restored

When you started feeling like you have cabin fever and it's only September, you know you're in trouble. It rained all day Saturday. My downstairs family room turned into an encampment of refugees from a rained-out JROTC fund-raising car wash. They spent the day plowing through DVDs, pizza, tacos and my supply of Coke. If you've never witnessed the spectacle of hungry, sugar-starved teenagers, well ... trust me, it's something to see. It's 10 p.m. and their movie marathon is on the verge of entering its 12th hour. Still, having your teenager and his friends hanging around eating you into the poor house is better than not knowing where they are or what they're up to.

I spent the day doing chores, watching the sky for reasons to hope and, finally, drifting off for a nap in my recliner. I woke up at 5 p.m. and decided to go for it. The streets were wet, but the sky was at least somewhat clear. I slammed a sandwich, grabbed my old slick-equipped Stumpjumper off the indoor trainer and headed out for a 35-mile loop through Anchorage. It's a nice, mostly traffic-free route that's good for a workout when the singletrack is too muddy to ride.

The paved, multi-use trails that make up the majority of the loop were wet and mostly covered with fallen leaves—fall comes early this far north—so the ride was sloppy but uncrowded. Few people venture out on the trails on a damp Saturday night in September. It was their loss. The tide was in, so small waves were lapping against the shore just a few feet from the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. The evening sun found an opening under the clowds and lit up the woods. I couldn't resist slowing down to shoot pictures of my handlebar and wet front wheel. (I'm easily entertained by shit like that. This tiny new digital camera is slowing me down because of such goofy delays.)

A cow moose and her spring calf were grazing on the hill between the coast and the Kincaid Park chalet. The cow was on one side of the trail and baby on the other, making the middle of the trail a big no-pass-or-Momma-might-stomp-your-ass zone, so I shouldered my bike and went through the trees to a nearby singletrack to detour around them. Slicks are worthless on damp dirt mixed with wet grass so I did a little walking, but that's a small price to pay for living in a city where you have to watch for moose and bears on an evening ride.

I finished the ride in the darkening twilight and a gentle rain. I gave the bike a quick bath, myself a quick shower and threw my ride clothes in the washer. Now it's a glass of red wine, headphones and iTunes to help the Grateful Dead drown out the downstairs film festival. I feel normal again. No need to shoot the freezer full of holes. Not yet, anyway. But it's only September.


George said...

I took vacation this week thinking it would be fairly nice here in southcentral Pa.

Boy was I wrong, we had to turn the air conditioning back on.

I'm not sure I could handle living in AK, I like my warmer weather too much:-)

Tim said...

Yeah, the season is painfully short for bicyclists, so Alaska can be a little tough at times. On the other hand, I don't inhale smog during my commute, I can ride in the sun late at night for two or three months each year, and I enjoy on a daily basis the kind of scenery and wildlife that many people travel thousands of miles to see. It's a good tradeoff.

Still, when I hear from my wife's family that it's 80 degrees in Arizona (where we used to live), and I'm looking out the window at blowing snow ... well, I can still wince just a little.

LglEgl said...

Nice Pic! I loved the long days in the summer, but the no-sun-winters would kill me. I barely lasted the two weeks I was there. Vermont is as far north as I can live.