Saturday, July 26, 2008

Birthday Ride

It was September 27, 1995, precisely 18 years after I was born. I found myself in Provo, UT attending my freshman year of college at BYU. Being that it was the fall, and the racing season was over, my motivation for riding was waning as it typically does as the days get shorter and colder. But those who have lived in Utah know that the fall weather can (note: not always) be beautiful, and irresistible. After awakening from my daily post-class afternoon nap, I was lounging around my dorm room, trying to decide the best way to waste away the rest of the afternoon/evening. Being that it was a Monday night, I figured I'd attend FHE since there was nothing better to do at the time. As my roommate headed out the door around 5:00 pm to study, he asked what my plans were. I told him nothing really, and that I'd catch up with him at FHE.

After he left, I sat around a little more, and after staring out the window I realized it was just too nice of an evening to not head out on a ride. After all, there would always be FHE every Monday, but my birthday only came along once a year. I got changed and decided a ride to the top of Squaw Peak would be appropriate. Squaw Peak is a twisting sinuous 4.5 mile climb just up Provo Canyon. It's a narrow one lane road framed by trees, displaying brilliant hues of red, orange, and yellow in the fall. At the top, the pavement ends in a small parking lot. Also known as "make-out point" by the locals, it provides a stunning view of the Provo Valley. It's a quick hour long ride up the canyon and to the top, and about 30 minutes back home.

There aren't many more beautiful places to ride than Utah in the fall. Up in the mountains, the leaves were changing and a cool breeze blew down the canyon. As I grunted my way up the climb I decided that being my birthday there was no hurry so instead I sat back, enjoyed the scenery, and reflected on the past 18 years of my life. My better times up Squaw peak were usually around 26:00 - 27:00 minutes. I have no idea how long it took me that day, but I'm sure it was well over 30:00.

Upon reaching the top, the sun was starting to dip low in the sky. I pulled into the parking lot at the summit, thankful to be alone with no one to disturb the moment. I sat up at the top for probably 20-30 minutes, simply enjoying the moment. It was a great opportunity to reflect on the past year of my life, and think about the upcoming year and what I'd like to accomplish. So started my tradition of going on a birthday ride each year, and using it to reflect on my life. While living in Provo, I always continued the tradition of riding up Squaw Peak on my birthday.

As the temperature continued dropping I decided it was time to head home. Upon arriving back at the dorms, I walked into my room with a huge grin plastered on my face. As I walked through the door I was met by my roommate who simply declared "Duuuuuude" with a look of shock/incredulity on his face. Surprised, I asked what was up. He proceeded to explain how all of the girls in our FHE group had connived with him to plan me a surprise birthday party complete with homemade cake and all. Hence, his innocent question affirming that I would be attending FHE as he walked out the door. Imagine their surprise as they waited, and waited, and waited, with me never showing up. I felt pretty bad at the time, but it seems pretty comical as I look back at it now.

Every year now on my birthday I suit up and head out on a ride using it as a time to reflect on the previous year of my life. It's become an enjoyable and insightful tradition that I have carried on since that first birthday ascent up Squaw Peak some 12 years ago.

A route of the ride can be found here.