Thursday, March 30, 2006

Spring in Fruita

This was originally posted on the 'teamgreen' blog, but I wanted to bring it over to this blog as well.

Like a migratory birds returning north in the spring, each year on the first few warm days of spring see a different migration on the Western Slope of Colorado. Out of the mountains they come, emerging from the hibernation in winter sport, leaving behind their vehicles of sliding on the white frozen high-altitude terrafirma, for a warmer pursuit of rolling across the fresh dirt of Fruita. As the mercury surpasses the 60F, their numbers increase, SUV's and other fossil-fueled ironsleds bring them in hoards to this sacred ground of mountain biking. Parking lots full of a buzz, as these creatures shed their heavy wintercoats for more sleek, fresh and fast skins of springtime, full of bright colors, but still paleskin from the long, cold dark days behind them. They zip around, testing their shiny two-wheeled, off-road gyropscopes, bouncing, hopping and playing in the large gravel fields before charging out onto the ribbon of dirt for a 3 hour plus journey.

We too join the masses, leaving behind our nest, still frozen solid in a landscape of white. Armed with my trusty, do-it-all IF cross bike (single speed), and my mate with her Ti mtb, we park away from the main herd, and opt for a slightly different route. Making the transformation from winter to warmer coats, we mount our trusty steeds and feel the first few rotations on dirt as we ride away. Euphoria is abound as we communicate our joy with exclimmated physical expressions as we just try to soak up the warmth of the intense solar rays, that seem to melt away the months of cold from our souls. This energy seems to provide an extra spark as the pace quickens along the parched valley floor. I find myself challenged on the ascents, pushing a stout 44x17 gearing combo, but my enthusiasm and joy overcome the challenge, watching my legs swell while standing up and pushing through the hard gears. As we find our first section of singletrack, I allow Sandi to drop in first, allowing here first tracks into the offroad cycling equivalent of fresh powder tracks. She quickly stretches out before me as the loose dirt proves to be challenging for my skinny tire choice. After meeting back up at a crossroads, her experience of pleasure is clear with out words, and verified by her vocal approval.

Snaking, twisting, and rolling out way up through a small ravine, our pace is steady and fast, but leaves us time to gaze about at the world around us that is still brown, and lacking life. The plant life has yet to awaken in these early hours of spring, but there is a sense of anticipation for their arrival. We arrive at the top of our first climb, fresh, and ready for more as we drop into another section of prime grade A singletrack, this time with a slight tilt downward. Once again Sandi makes quick work of the snappy turns, obstacles and elevation changes, this time I am right in tow having found my footing.

We make our way around this configuration, encountering for the first time others who too have made the journey. Out of etiquette we make way for each on the this small bit of realestate that is barely big enough for one, not too mention two in passing. Friendly greetings are exchanged as we accelerate from one another, gladly getting back underway on our ride. We close out this section with a dramatic finish of white knuckle descents that spill us back out onto the valley floor. And as the symphony of singletrack becomes more tranquil, we turn back northward, for yet another journey to the top on another of many in the web of singletrack that covers this part of the world. Feeling punchy, I grab the point. Rolling, and sometimes sprint the ups and downs of the climb. Direction is forever changing, snapping to the left and to the right, up and down, stepping up and over obstacles in the trail, it is the sweetest taste to these now salt encrusted lips. A quick hello to my singlespeed brethren as we both glance at each others rides, and it is onward. Wrapping around the top, we face our final descent, and journey back to where it all began. Full of confidence, I hold my post in the lead, and charge may way down what to me becomes an extended BMX course of berms, jumps and features for railing. One with the bike, I flow like water, fluid and fast. And as I pass one rider, I notice she shares my insignia, and say "nice Indy" to her. She smiles knowing I too am on an IF. The charge down is long and plentiful, but yet my greed doesn't want to see it end. And as we spill out one last time, onlooker watch, as they prepare to begin their own journey into spring, leading to yet another riding season.

Reluctantly, we change out of our new found freedom, dawning our cloaks of winter, and slowly make our way back to the cold nesting grounds we have chosen. But at the same time, we feel a sense of satisfaction, not just for the recent feeding on prime dirt for which our bellies are full, but for the knowledge that spring is here. That there will be many more migrations to warmer locals and spring to will slowly migrate towards us, slowly revealing more and more opportunities to ride along the way.

1 comment:

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