I’m reading a book titled Deep Survival, by Laurence Gonzales which is a study of why some people survive when others perish in extreme situations. The author explains why people do things that make absolutely no sense and even threaten their well being, if not their lives. Interesting to me, he mentions mountain biking as one of those irrational activities.
I’ve long recognized that my chosen sport poses certain risks, and those risks are what make the sport so much fun. Some cyclists prefer the more groomed roads and paths, but for me it’s always been more about the challenge of riding steep and technical terrain that requires a combination of skills and courage. Pushing through the trepidation and allowing the bike to roll off a steep precipice, shifting weight from rear wheel to front to maximize braking power and control the skid, puts me in a state of consciousness unlike anything else I do in life. Implicit memory takes control and dictates to the body in a seamless, almost thoughtless, communication. Safe arrival at the bottom of the hill reinforces the memory of pleasure which encourages the irrational behavior in the future. Of course, failure to navigate the course can undermine one’s confidence for several rides after the mishap.
Last week Mike and I rode what’s called the Flag Trail. It’s a roller coaster of a ride as it descends a long ridge, alternately dropping steeply, then climbing, and descending again. It’s mostly an easy trail, made exciting only by the speed one can carry. There are only a couple of rough, steep sections that require trust in one’s steed. My bike is what’s called an enduro bike, meaning it’s designed for exactly this kind of trail. Left to its own devices, I think this bike could do the trail without the benefit of a rider.
We had ridden the same route just a couple of days ago and I had made several mistakes; but this time I rode more aggressively and managed to ride several sections that I’d had to walk before, including a loose, downhill switchback that I’d never before managed.
The past week has been mostly too hot to do much of anything outside other than spray the garden down every hour to keep it from withering away. My poor dogs are growing fat and lazy. This morning we went for a short hike in the hills south of town around 8:00 A.M. It was already uncomfortably warm and the girls were happy to head back for the comfort of the air conditioned car after only about a mile or two. Signs along the trail warned of rattlesnakes but we saw only a hawk, circling lazily on the thermals.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
September typically signals the end of enervating summer heat. It will still be hot during the day, but evenings will be cool and by morning, it will be downright nippy. Fire season will continue as autumn winds kick up. There are several fires blazing in our valley now, but thankfully, the smoke is blowing away from us, unlike last year when conditions were absolutely hellish. I feel like the frog in the pot here. It grows a bit hotter and a bit dryer each year, but I still find beauty in this parched landscape.