Sunday, January 23, 2011

schwinn time

I awoke this late January Sunday morning on the couch that had become my bed for the past four months now. This was not because of tension between my wife and me, but that my four month old daughter lets mommy sleep through the night this way. Last night was a night like few I have seen ware she gave me time for only a few hours sleep. At around eight forty five my neighbor knocked on our door and asked if I wanted to ride out to Shasta Dam and back. I said “ok” halfway reluctantly knowing of the work that I had planning on doing. He said he wanted to leave in fifteen minutes. This was bad as I was still in my pj’s and had not eaten yet. But a little twenty five mile ride, no worries. So I got dressed in my cut-off wool slacks, orange “speedway” t-shirt, scally cap and headed out the door. I still had to switch pedals to clip less pedals and put on my shoes. We were off at nine o’clock. He was riding his multi-century proven 1970’s geared road bike and I was on my sub twenty mile proven 1976 Schwinn Paramount single speed road bike with mountain bike bars and a rear break with a thirty year old brake pad. He set a pretty good pace across the Sun Dial Bridge and out the River trail that kept me spinning to keep up. I was enjoying myself but the lack of physical fitness since our daughter was born was showing. We had made it about seven miles or so to the Keswic Dam Parking lot which was the beginning of an uphill battle. With my one gear made for a less steep endeavor, I chugged it up the hill getting off to walk a few times during the steepest parts. A few miles later we had come to a reasonably flat section of trail that followed the old rail bed along Keswic Lake. This should have been nice but with a slight headwind, it dragged on forever. We had finally made it to the base of Shasta Dam where I thought we would turn back. No, he wanted to ride the one mile road up to the top of the dam. Ok, so we started off and soon he had gapped me with some distance. I saw a fence running straight up the hill with the Manzanita cleared on both sides. I took this opportunity to trudge through the brush and climb my way up the hill with my bike over my shoulder. I made it to the top with my quads on the verge of locking up; but boy was it worth it. Mount Shasta had its south slope painted in sunshine and snow with the lake in the foreground almost white capped from a cool wind. As we headed back down the hill, I sat up in my saddle and flowed around all the twists and turns like a bird soars in the wind. Probably the best part of the ride. He had somewhere to be so he powered off into the distance while I rode the rest of the twenty miles back in solitude just taking in the scenery and my thoughts. By the time I got home I had traveled about 42 miles, destroyed my legs, and found out that my bike was great! I then filled the tub with cold water, and after climbing in I read “Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance” for twenty minutes to clear my mind and rejuvenate me for the rest of the day. Oh, look at the time. It’s lunch time!