My friend dan (or somecallme_danimal) likes to send us over words from time to time. Chances are those words are pretty entertaining and I like to share them with you. Here is a little tale of a ride we know so well. The commute.
byYour Commute Sucks.it wasn’t hard at all. i have two short and steeps that always bring me out of the saddle, and always will due to the pitch. the rest of the short ups follow the second short and steep, and another is simply a roller between two flats right before i get to work. i have always perched up on the front of the bike, riding front wheel heavy out of the saddle because of the comfort i find… makes it easier to dance. but yesterday, i stayed seated. sure, the two short and steeps lifted me, but the rest, i was able to just keep a solid cadence and roll over with what seemed like too little effort for the speed i was traveling. when i arrived at work, i felt like i wasn’t finished… because i wasn’t.my commute home. up through the valley on the paved road, i found a rabbit to chase. some dude on a cross bike with a team kit (but who knows who he was because i see World Championship stripes occasionally on people that are not World Champions). so i dug in. as i rolled by, Clutch blasting in my ears, the taste of beer still on my lips, and a glance to my right saw him smiling as big as me. he was digging too, working like a dog, and loving it.then i hit dirt. everything has been freshly graded. the parking lots, fire roads, and the trails. the soft, dry earth sprinkled with gravel makes for a slippery time no matter the direction, pitch, or speed. the one hundred and eighty degree turn lifts me again as i pass the gate, perching me on top of the front wheel, and this is where i will remain for the two mile ascent. my balance constantly shifting fore and aft, fighting for traction, surging with power, leveling the two harmoniously to keep the momentum of my forward movement constantly in check. sweat glides down my forearms pooling between my palms and the brake hoods worn from a decade of white knuckled grip. i find my rhythm, and begin to dance.half way up, i feel no pain. just pressure and time. as the trail pitches, wheels slide, and tires break, smiles emerge from within greeting each attempt to halt, only to be overthrown with style and grace. the final push arrives, a pitch that should not be possible, but i have never been shut down. today will be no different. i own this. i dig. deep. charge. fight. gripping the hoods, forcing the bike to continue forward, abusing it, punishing it, twisting and mangling, as sweat pours from my brow dripping from my lips, smattering across the top of the stem. the final lunge settles me back in the saddle, and i feel the lactic acid flush from my legs as they begin to spin up into a more relaxed and calming cadence.reaching the top, the trail begins it’s thread down into the valley as i slide back into the saddle, level my feet, and relax my grip. quickly i find momentum through gravity, which turns into a blistering pace on the edge of disaster, tires break loose as we slide around each turn with confidence, aggression, and power. the bike dances beneath me, plowing through deep gravel, soaring over trenches, and begging for more. as we achieve maximum velocity, the wind cools me, and the sweat begins to evaporate. my vision begin to lengthen and intensify, far into the distance, scanning for anything that could steal my momentum. and i begin to fly.nearing the base of the valley, my hands relax as the trail begins to straighten in front of me. i can do nothing to increase my speed coming in for the landing as we have exceeded the maximum my legs can handle with this gearing, and braking is always out of the question. i relax, and glide toward a cut in a grove of trees, my vision widens, and staring right at me is a bobcat. looking at me with confidence and no fear, the cat trots to the side of the trail only to pause and watch me speed by. no nerves, no worry, just two animals sharing, and respectfully agreeing together to give up enough space to remain out of each others way, but not interrupt the tasks at hand.around the corner a quick up takes me through another about face, and the trail levels bringing me to my next turn. prompted by one of the short access trails i use to get from one to another being closed – i’m excited to find another way because i didn’t know any other way.i worked my way up the trail, one i have never graced, until i found a right to get me across the road and back onto dirt. through a parking lot and onto the pave, my typical dirt is off to the right, but a long pave climb stands before me, and another rabbit. i dig. the tires grip the pave like glue, the pitch is almost constant yet unrelenting, and again i am lifted and perched, finding timing, a rhythm, and i begin to dance. my movements stay a constant tempo for the duration of this ascent, and when i finally glide to the top, three choices lay before me. two down, one up. i never stop, just keep dancing.i reach the pinnacle of the climb, and for the first time i stop. scanning the horizon i drink in the vast topography below me. the waves crashing against ancient volcanic rock, with a heavy green carpet draped over anything with enough traction for life. another smile, my head lowers, the distinctive sound of metal clutching metal rings as i stomp back into my pedal, and begin down the steep grade. the edge of the world drops to my left into Poseidon’s home, as green carpet peppered with orange poppies lines the path before me.braking before the turns, powering out, on the edge of crucial velocity. an aggressive hard right, back on dirt, plowing over water bars and washed out ditches. my focus is tuned to nothing around, i can not even hear the music jammed into my ears, the only focus is the thin ribbon of terrain before me. taking one’s attention away for a split second results in only catastrophe. a final lunge, hard right, exhale, and i’m perched again for the final climb out.i dig. sweat begins to drip again, collecting with familiarity. as i peak the steepest up, and with a hard left, i settle back into the saddle grinding into the dirt as if i am still in space and time, and i am the one turning the earth below me. cutting through the switchbacks, the deep gravel and soft earth swallow my wheels, but i am able to break them free time and time again, forcing my machine to continue to follow my commands as i guide it to suppress it’s arguments.reaching the final intersection at the top, and again faced with the three previous decisions, i decide it is time to head home. i roll over the peak and begin the last paved descent, sitting up, stretching and relaxing all the tension from my body. another exhale. as i begin to slide into the first turn, a woman rolls up next to me, looks over, and smiles. i smile back, and motion that is is time to go. i throw every last remaining bit of power left in my legs and spin back up to maximum velocity, tucking to grab the drops, and dive in. a quick look over my shoulder has her right on my wheel, grinning from ear to ear as we plow down the mountain together. we slalom through the turns, dodging tourists and their machines, twisting around obstacles and straightening turns. at the bottom, i give one more look back, our eyes meet, and we silently give a final thank you with a shared smile. she continues straight as i peel off to the right to slow my pace and make my way across the Golden Gate Bridge, and back home.