My windshield is misting up from the road spray and the swirling fog is not making it any easier for my tired eyes. The loud beats of some random earlier 90s punk rock fills my ear drums as I try to stay awake at the wheel. I am hoping for some sun, but with every clear bit of sky that comes my way, the fog swirls up to combat its foe and take quash any chance at clear skies. I knew it would be like this when I left, yet I couldn’t bear to just let another day go by feeling depressed looking for work and just sulking in from of a blinking screen. Besides how many more January days of 50 degrees will we get? Global Warming is cyclical isn’t it?
I continued my drive, wondering why every time it was gloomy out I chose to ride the same trails. I thought about the slippery jagged rocks and if my new rear tire would prove to be efficient or simply stutter like the last one and merely slip on everything that stood in its way. My mind wondered to clothing selection, what was the temperature? Was it raining or was this merely the road spray shooting out of the rear tires of the car in front of me? Prayers for clear skies and no rain permeated my mind, as I saw the sign for the exit. My heart rate quickened and I put on some faster punk music to liven my sullen mood up.
There is nothing like riding trails that are void of life. Nothing like knowing you are the lone soul for miles and miles, huffing and grinding your gears oblivious to the outside worlds troubles and in your own special place. The skies were cloudy, but the rain had dissipated and left in its path a slick and wet trail system. I could hear the tumultuous rumble of a distant stream churning its storm runoff over moss covered rocks and decaying fallen logs as it made its way down to an unknown destination, maybe a lake lay unforeseen in the woods somewhere. My mind drifted back, I felt my tire pushing my bike up an incline of jagged sharp slate rocks and slick logs that had lost their bark. Every now and then I was forced off my bike, due to the foreboding fallen log that was lay strewn in an awkward position so that a simple ride over it would have proven fatal for both me and my bike.
Pine needles littered the floor of the forest and through only a slight depression in the layers of pine seedlings could a trail be seen. I glanced to the sides taking in the beautiful old growth pines that stood like warriors blocking any entrance to the forest beyond, I heard the stream off in some distance now and saw the fog closing in on me, it was swirling in random ways like smoke in a tripped out hippie scene. I could blow out my mouth and it moved the smoky swirls in another direction creating a new pattern, small shafts of light that made their way down to below the masses of pines looked as if G-d himself was shinning down. G-d rays, I thought to myself, as I recalled what a friend of mine called it when the sun had shone through the clouds allowing one to see its rays.
I grinded in lower gears, wheezing and coughing my way up a long and steady hill, all the while my tires slipped ands sloshed in the mud, spraying my spandex pants with small splotches of mud reminiscent of spilling paint on ones self. I was satisfied with this new tire I had just installed on the rear of my ride, and praised the Lord for providing with such beauty amidst all of this gloom. Even gloom is good when treated right, instead of sitting around and wondering what to do I just did it and got off my behind and busted that bike out and rocked my muddy world.
I sat down on a damp rock and felt my butt instantly become moist from the cold dampness that permeated from the rock through my pants to cool my bare sweaty skin that lay beneath two clothing layers. Smoke emanated off my body and mixed with its cousin the fog. I gnawed on an energy bar that tasted like cement, I felt the protein hitting the spot, took two long joyful swigs off my camelback straw, and got up to stretch. My back was like a swamp with my shirt stuck plastered to it. I continued to ride, I rode until it came time for the major downhill and then tuned everything out in order to have kavanah for the downhill. I could feel the 5 inches of plush rear suspension kicked into gear as if by esp. The shock and wheels bounced up and down and rocks were cast aside as I rode quickly by, I could hear small rodents scattering like wildflowers in the wind at my approaching noise which must have sounded like a pack of dear in the quiet woods. I heard some gun shots in the distance as I made my way back onto the old road that circled the State Forest I was in. The road is not really a road at all anymore, just a rocky tract of treeless straightness that appears to once have supported moving gas powered vehicles or perhaps horse driven, there was no telling how old the rocky, gravel road was.
I rode back to my awaiting muddy car that was sitting in a huge puddle surrounded by discarded mud from its undercarriage that had dripped off with the rain or whatever residue had forced the particles of earth off of its body with force. I gleefully sat on my tailgate and removed all of my clothing and stood in the empty forest standing in just my socks and underwear, steam swirling off my body with force and the cold sweat clinging for dear life as I proceeded to rummage around for a towel or some sort of wiping device. I rubbed the old bloodied shirt over my face wiping sweat mixed with mud and rain water. I donned some pants and sat once again on my tail gate munching on honey mustard potato chips shirtless in the cool, damp, humidity laden late afternoon enjoying the quiet gloom and all of its sullenness. One other car lay to the right of me its occupants no where to be seen. Were they small game hunters I wondered? Luckily I had worn my orange blaze, though its hardly likely a full size man on a mountain bike could be mistaken for a groundhog or chipmunk.
With just a t-shirt I hopped into my car and sat for a moment appreciating its taken for granted comforts. I leaned back enjoying the feel of the smooth aging leather on my back and behind. I pressed on the clutch and started the car, selected some chilled out Bela Fleck instrumental bluegrass and proceeded to drive down the double track, pothole ridden, dirt road.