What Counts

Three Tree Point is a small patch of beach, no more than ten feet across covered in stones with only a bush for foliage, behind a row of concrete barriers like you would see in a construction zone. We went beyond the barriers and looked out at Puget Sound for a moment and commented on the lack of trees. “Maybe it’s really over there on private property.” Jack said. I looked around and found three of the biggest trees and called it good.

We push kicked our bikes, right foot still clipped in, along a thin strip of gravel on the sea side of the barriers and began to ride the narrow road between the tall townhouses to the left with their large garage doors and the smaller, but probably no less expensive single floor homes along the Salish Sea. Jack said it was like Italy without the mountains.

It’s been a few weeks, but Fridays are the days Jack and I ride together. We’d met the same way I’ve came to know nearly everyone I call a friend in Seattle. Through one of the few shop group rides in town. Now we’re club mates. Jack tends a flock and Friday is a day where he has enough time to sneak a ride in, while I’m a “non-antagonistic Atheist” who has Friday’s off to ride.

Generally speaking we average average 26 K an hour chatting about riding, the mountains and Jack’s kids. I keep to the little ring most the time pedaling the inverse of Jack’s big ring rouleuring. I sometimes wonder if his front derailleur even works.

Today we’ve hardly chatted at all. I’m not sure why Jack had picked Three Tree Point. Perhaps it was along the route we’d agreed upon the day before. I couldn’t remember or couldn’t hear when he’d told me. Aside from bikes Jack and I share the trait of mumbling and the head wind we were riding into made it impossible for me to hear him. Everything south of the Vashon Island Ferry was new to me, so I was content to follow.

Washington has no shortage of beautiful vistas. Three Tree Point doesn’t seem to be one of them, unless you prefer views of houses to water and mountains. Perhaps things would have be different if we’d ridden earlier in the week. Wednesday maybe. There was some sun on that day.

We had talked briefly on the ride out. I told Jack about how I haven’t been riding much, which is something he can understand. But Jack has his reasons, demanding job and family life. Me? I’ve just been in a funk I guess. Which is an excuse for not getting out and riding before work, or going for the longer rides I intended to be doing on my days off. For me there is the back pain which has seemingly come out of nowhere, along with a general dissatisfaction with the bike and life in general, and then, before the wind and the effort required to ride it put an end to the conversation, I came to the heart of the matter, and how the lack of good pay and meaningful work collaborate to destroy one’s self worth. If you let it. “I’m becoming tired of the struggle” I said.

Our rides often have destinations, or some place we’ll ride through – a feature. Months back it was Medina, used as a bypass around Bellevue, past what I assumed were palatial houses behind tall hedges and locked gates. Often times, and this could speak more to my personality than to the location, the sights are anti-climactic. Like a mountain top, there is often little to do but turn around and head back home.

When we left the small patch of rocky beach we wondered aloud what the view would look like without the clouds, how the Olympics would dominate the horizon. I pictured them with snow still perched on their peaks, still lit up by the morning sun from the opposite direction.

Jack starts talking about the houses and then the climb up back into Buiren. I keep thinking about the lack of anything to see. I’m reminded about the insignificance of destinations and how it doesn’t matter if the riding is bad, or if the job recognises that it is trying to steal your dignity by acknowledging your worth and refusing to pay for it, or how the only thing that matters about that decision you made months ago is that you actively choose something, rather than be a victim to the anxiety of decision. Which is the long way of saying. It is the ride that counts.

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