Thursday, July 19, 2007

Descending (Triple Bypass Part II)

***Preface: The first 15 miles took two hours, so intense and extended was the climb, so thin was the air, and so wimpy was the sea level rider. The next 15 miles, which was the descent from Juniper Pass, and the screaming descent from Loveland Pass was a completely different kind of riding--and writing.***

Put on your jacket or your arm warmers and tip yourself over the edge of the world and the ground falls away from you.

Jump to the big ring and click click click click find the smallest sprocket in the cassette. Five strokes of the pedals and suddenly you have no chain. You can't pedal fast enough to power the wheels.

Every sense is white hot. You hear everything and nothing at all---the roar of the wind, the vibration of the road, the whir and then whine of a freewheel about to take flight. You see everything and nothing at all--the grit or gravel 2 seconds in front of you at the same time you predict the turns 30 seconds ahead and duck over your should to see the riders before and behind. You feel the wind, the bitter cold that makes your teeth chatter and your toes ache.

What is that taste? Salt? Bile? Fear? No, more like joy.

Here come the first turns. The body is entirely instictive because there is no time to think---shifting from side to side, banking in the turns, checking over the shoulder before you swing wide so you can dive back in and hit the apex of the turn with no loss of speed, lifting the inside pedal and flaring the inside knee out for balance, then dipping down behind the seat and dropping into a severe aero crouch, diving at 45 mph into a straightaway drop.

And yet, you are consumed with thought that never relies on instinct. everything is slow motion and the mind analyzes the road immediately under your tires as well as the rider 25 meters behind you, 25 meters in front, and the next two turns down the road.

Relax and you fly. Tense up, and you'll go down.

Detecting a slight slowing in the freewheel, you know just when to whip out 10 pedal strokes to keep your speed across a flat before you drop off the planet again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

For 40 minutes of adrenaline above 40 miles an hour on two narrow stips of rubber powered by the human heart.

7 comments:

Jessi said...

Gotta love the downhill!

Amy said...

It makes the climb all worth it. Or at least that's what I tell myself as I fight the lactic acid when climbing the local mountains. I always let out a big yeehaw! on the way down.

Breaking is for the weak :)

Mallie said...

Great post. It made me feel like I was right there on the ride!

stronger said...

Poetry in motion

TriBoomer said...

Made feel like I was flying.

Stay tuned...

rueschmike said...

Such a great description - sounds awesome.

Triteacher said...

Yahoo!! That is a beautiful thing. Darn good writing too.