I stood in the kitchen this morning, hands wrapped around my second cup of coffee, staring at the thermometer: 30.2 degrees. Tucsontucsontucson, I reminded myself. The winter desert trip I’ve been telling myself to take for the past decade when I first learned that many cyclists made a yearly pilgrimage to the land of warmth, far from the snow and cold, or in this case, the cold. I’d never had the motivation to make it happen.
I shook my head: AK is only going to be 70 degrees colder, I’d better get out and ride. It’d be so much easier if the sun was out… So I pulled on some layers, dressing these days has been a crapshoot, put on my warm gloves, put my even warmer ones along with my down jacket into my frame bag and pedaled up the bike path, fat tires whirling to the comforting rhythm that only four inch wide tires can create.
As I turned the corner, heading south, the combination of mist, (relatively) early morning sun, and mountains set a magical tone. There is adventure on the horizon, both immediate and distant, it seemed to say. And then I climbed and slowly, because everything happens slowly on a fat bike, and the mist faded away leaving only a thin layer of moisture on the single wool layer I was wearing. The sparkles that caught the light made me smile.
The higher I went, the bigger the view got, and the more my dying camera battery protested the cold. ‘Just one more picture,’ I begged it each time I pulled it out, eventually resorting to storing it at skin level to try to eek out a few more seconds of battery life for the next corner which absolutely begged for a photo. ‘This is magic, and I didn’t have the foresight to plug the damn battery in last night. Good work team.’
It was quiet, an early Sunday morning in Sunshine Canyon. The burned trees, the missing houses, still gives the area a sad feeling. Total destruction. Some were quick to rebuild. Other lots just sit. Lives changed. For the better? For worse? Maybe just different. Maybe we should just stop trying to label everything as good and bad. Sometimes I think uphill is good. Sometimes I think its bad. Maybe I should just accept it for what it is: Uphill.
But today, uphill felt good. Giddy good. Cracked out good. I can do anything good. I like this feeling.