Monday, June 30, 2008

Day two

Ride route.

As I mentioned in the previous post, this particular cycling excursion was a two day event.

When I woke up in the morning I was a little stiff, and somewhat uncertain on my feet. Despite my hesitations, we got off to an early start. Unfortunately, Vantage is a small town situated at the bottom of a big hill. The road leading out of town only travels for about 100 yards before it runs into a wall, which was the hill we were about to climb. Needless to say there was precious little time for either mental or physical preparation for the task at hand. Vantage is situated at about 600 ft elevation, whereas the climb tops out some ten miles later at about 2800 ft. As the climb set in my brother and I quickly pulled away from our dad. The first few miles were brutal, but eventually my legs loosened up and I started feeling better. I don't remember talking much as we climbed, shoulder-to-shoulder, the entire way up. If I remember correctly it took right about an hour to do those ten miles. It wasn't fast, but It was pretty satisfying to make it to the top and look back down at the hill we had just conquered.

The best part about reaching the top, though, was knowing that the next 20 or so miles, were all downhill into Ellensburg. At Ellensburg we peeled off the Interstate and took Canyon road back to Yakima. Canyon road winds alongside the Yakima river with steep hills on either side. It's quite a scenic route. Although it follows the river, anyone who has ridden it on a bike knows that it's anything but flat. Nevertheless, at this point in the ride I had reached pure cycling bliss. There was no longer any doubt about whether I would be able to survive the trip. I was just happy to be on my bicycle with my brother and dad along for company. I remember the hills started to hurt, but I couldn't stop smiling. As we wound alongside the river some rafters yelled up to us that we were traveling the hard way (as they lazily drifted down the river in their raft). It may have looked like hard work to them, but there was nowhere else I'd have rather been.

After exiting the canyon, we stopped at the fruit stand just outside of Selah. I remember that by this time it was extremely hot, and I was getting tired. As we sat outside slurping down peaches, nectarines, and plums, I remember wanting to linger there, and not get back on the bike. Not because I was tired, but rather, I didn't want the trip to end. We were only a short 10 miles or so from home, and I wished it was another 100. I don't know when exactly it happened, but somewhere along the road during those two days of riding, I had fallen in love with cycling. It wasn't one thing in particular, but rather, the experience as a whole; the panoramic vistas of the countryside rolling by, the sense of accomplishment at cresting over a hill and the exhilaration of speeding down the other side, the quiet moments of uninterrupted introspection, the camaraderie and tom-foolery experienced with friends, and the gratefulness for knowing at that moment that this was one of life's unique experiences that I would always remember.

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