Sunday, September 26, 2010


Rode out today right into a rainshower.  No jacket.  So early in the ride, but I couldn't turn back.  I needed a spin no matter what, just had to get some hours in, turning the pedals over.

The rain was warm and required no accomodation.  Still into the high seventies today, but a change is coming.  Here and there a tree had already burst into flaming orange.

 Smokes in the valley, stormclouds breaking up. Looking over South Mills River Valley to Black and Clawhammer, with the exposed rock faces of Lookingglass on the far horizon.
Up on 5018, I paused to take in the view of Pisgah.  The post-rain vapors loitered amongst the trees below, smokiness of these smoky mountains.  As I stood there a wind blew up from behind me, carrying some leaves.  The wind was still warm, but held a quiet implication of the cold to come.  Suggesting the not-too-distant day when a sudden shower without adequate raingear could get serious.

In the dripping heat of summer, I try to recall the feeling of cold.  Under the relentless sun I try to conjure the contraction of the shoulders, the muscle stiffness, the nonfunctional digits, the watery nose.  In the gray cold of winter, I try to conjure the overheating, the exhaustion, the inexplicable slowness, the salt-tinged eyes of midsummer.  In each season, I cannot quite summon the sense-memory of its opposite.

On the most oppressive summer ride, the heat is all that has ever existed.  In midwinter, the glare of the summer sun is just a fable we tell ourselves.

Up on 5018 I look out on the smokes curling from the valley floor, knowing I've stood there at every season of the year.  Knowing that soon I'll be standing there under a pale winter sun again, the bones of the hillsides visible beneath bare trees.   And knowing that soon enough I'll be standing there in the uncompromising heat of summer yet again, suffocated by the overwhelming greenness.

 On the way back down Yellow Gap, caught within one of the rising smokes
The seasons are just far enough apart to let our species forget the all-too-real suffering the opposite side of the calendar brings.  Year after year the earth spins round the sun, year after year we yearn for the suffering of six months prior.  Same as it ever was.  Have our brains evolved this way?  Are our sense-memories incapable of extending quite far enough to recall the discomfort of the season just passed?  This lets us remain optimists: that faintly-recalled snowstorm of February is just a visual memory.  I remember the ice falling from the trees, but forget the cold wind that accompanied it.  These hands have never been gray with cold, never been so numb they were unable to work the brake levers.  These river crossings have never been anything but a respite from the heat of the day.


  1. I vividly remember last winter just as I remember the pain of giving birth to Carly. Both have made me stronger. But still not looking forward to the cold and wet again.

  2. Sometimes I wonder if having hit my head hard too many times is a blessing or a curse, because my inability to remember fine detail well is something that both shields me from pain, and also keeps me from vividly recalling the truly beautiful things that occurred in my past.

    But you can't cry over spilled milk, as they say, and I try not to bemoan the fact that I must live for today and look toward the future, because to hold onto the past increasingly, for me, proves to be a failing pursuit. Oh well, I say. That's one of the reasons I ride a bike.

    I'm still not looking forward to it being cold, but I'll still ride...

  3. I simply hate being cold. I'm just not built for it.

  4. CTR? nope. More self-supported multiday racing is in my future, but more racing with HAPE is not. I like breathing!