A handful of us meet at one of the many coffee shops that spot the landscape of this town where coffee, beer and being strange and different for the sake of being strange and different, reign supreme. I hadn’t expected this to be a big group ride, but a small selection of people who I always ride with or have only raced against but still consider riding friends.
Sunday is traditionally reserved for Saltzman, or the other gravel and dirt road that accesses it, but Justin wanted to go east and it was unseasonably clear. We settled on Crown Point, which lead us into the windy Columbia Gorge.
There wasn’t much pulling through, but we kept a good pace and managed to keep the group together until the accent of Little Page road. There a Junior National Champ on the track went up a head, with a Masters racer on his wheel. Then followed the majority of the group, another four riders or so.
I haven’t started my base yet, but was content to let them ride ahead. Just behind me a guy on a bike costing about a quarter of my yearly salary struggled along. I am often the person who will hang back and help a struggling rider out, as long as they are the only struggling rider.
Though he was older, I tried to coach how to ride out of the saddle the way I was taught — pull back on the pedals, wrap two finders around the front of your hoods and rock the bike, not your body, beneath you — a way that at least always makes me feel as if I am jumping forward.
He didn’t seem to give a shit. That, or he thought my advice was bullshit since I was at the back with him. I sometimes try to help when my help isn’t wanted.
“Too…. many … traveling days…” he said.
He was breathing heavily and wouldn’t have been able to carry on about where he’d been over the holidays.
“yeah I agreed”
I was also feeling a run down.
Washington State was spread out before us at the top of the climb. My new home will be a couple of hours beyond the hills just over across the Gorge. These are my last long weekend rides in the place I feel at home. It has taken six years to get to this point, or to at least realize that I’ve taken some ownership of these roads. I know its an ownership I have no right to claim, but I don’t care either. This where I ride.
I snap a picture then eat the garlic bread and goat cheese sandwich I have left in my jersey pocket.The wind gust blows the cold and all of us comment on how cold it is and then we settle on riding the new pavement to Vista House – the section that still has road closed signs in front of it. I’ve been irritated the last few days. Yesterday I puzzled over why, but now I know. I’ve entered the anger phase of the grieving period, but only after a three month period of denial. Soon these will cease to be my roads, and will become some roads I know.
Seattle has beautiful roads as well. I’m leaving the roads I’ve used to learn more about myself, but I’m also entering a phase of exploration. One that will reap its own rewards. Which is something to be happy about, even if leaving a town where beer and being strange and different for the sake of being strange and different, reign supreme.