The ride not taken

January 23, 2021 § 6 Comments

I got the bike all cleaned up today for its non-ride. There I was, my door opening out onto several hundred miles of forest roads punching their way throughout the Sierras, and instead of throwing a leg over the top tube I simply walked.

I’m going to ride tomorrow. I may even ride later today. But at that moment it seemed more natural to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Maybe it was because even at nine a.m. it was still absolutely still. A covey of quail broke from almost beneath my feet. A gray squirrel scampered across the road. On close inspection, I could make out the hoof prints of a fawn. Somehow, it seemed a shame to break all of that quiet with the churning of cranks and the spinning of tires.

The road was muddy from the cold and solid rain of the night before, but after about a mile it became snow. The forest road wound up the mountain in great twists, but off to the left was a trail that went straight up. I was sure it would have bike treads on it, but nope, it was too steep. Is there such a thing? Yes? What is it?

I started walking and was soon breathless. The pitch was so great I had to lean forward so that my chest was almost bumping my knees. At the top there were great stones and a ravine that leaped off the side of the mountain down to the floor many hundreds of feet below. The snow track meandered off and returned to the forest road.

Soon I could make out dog tracks next to tires that had been through the fresh snow. The dog tracks continued on for a couple of miles, huge spaces between the prints so you could see the dog was running as fast as he could to keep up with the car. This how rednecks walk their dogs, in case ya didn’t know.

A scrub jay chattered, a white-crowned sparrow flitted to the top of a bush, and a woodpecker hammered on a snag while a red-tailed hawk half-flew, half-floated in search of breakfast.

This road was going to be magnificent for riding.

But today it was more magnificent for the ride not taken. I think John Muir would have approved.


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