Jenn and I were driving East on I-90 on a sunny September evening. Large cumulous clouds collect and pile high on the horizon. At the time I am obsessed with mountains, though I’d never been to a range that stacked high like the clouds in front of us. We weren’t talking, just listening to whatever music was playing in her car that day. I was getting ready to leave the Cleveland, the city I’d spent my entire life for Portland, in part because it was closer to the mountains.
“I wonder if I would be leaving Cleveland if those clouds were mountains?”
I had been thinking it for sometime, and had even tried writing a horrible poem about such an idea, but was just letting the idea slip. Jenn responded the way anyone would to such a silly hypothetical ponderance, by laughing at me.
I haven’t talked with Jenn in over six years, but I can hear her laugh when I see the cascades peak out from the layer of cloud cover as I crest the pedestrian bridge on the innerurban trail. There have been a handful of days like this over the four weeks I’ve been living in Seattle. I don’t climb mountains anymore, not to their peaks at least. The reason I first moved to the Northwest is no longer the driving force in my life, but I still want to be in those mountains.
I haven’t been riding much since I moved here from Portland. I am a creature of habit, same coffee order, same lunches, and my schedule has been tossed and I’m struggling to find my bearings. My work schedule has shifted forward one day, I come into work later and hence leave later. There is time to ride in there, but I spend most of my days riding around city streets, trying to remember a sequence of street names, rights and lefts, North from South. Keep the sound on your left when taking the long way to work.
The roads I do ride are busy, highways to ferries which head out to the good riding, and yes, more mountains.
In the four weeks I’ve been here have done more miles on this path to work than anyplace else. Which is no different than it was in Portland, but makes me sad nonetheless.
Most rides feel like a chore, there is no true quiet time, save for the moments when I can take a ferry, though I haven’t had a chance to explore those roads that shoot off from HWY 104, 19 and 20. On most days I’ve been riding a fixed gear city bike with a large aluminum rack over the front wheel. I miss my road bike, not the carbon one that is sitting in the sunroom of the house where we stay, but the one that was made for me. As if having that bike will suddenly make things different. Just like I thought being closer to the mountains would change the things I was hoping to change about myself when I moved West.
I’ve pushed the fixie over the one big rise on my commute to work and at the top I take my foot off the pedals and let the pedals spin beneath me. In my future I can see long hard climbs and fast wide open descents through those mountains that are just peaking out of the cloud cover. But right now those pedals whipping around under the momentum of the wheels is the closest I’m going to get to coasting down a mountain road, but I’ll take it.