I have been locked in the Westin LAX for 5 days straight without rest. Fifteen hours of work every day. Hotel meals. Boring treadmill runs at 5:30 in the morning.
When I step into the light outside the front doors of the hotel to catch the airport shuttle I am stunned.
This is the first sun I’ve seen in all those days. The first fresh air. And I use that term loosely because I am in LA, after all.
My flight is delayed after we board. We sit on the runway for an hour. I don’t get home until 1:00am.
And then, on Monday, there’s Forest Park. And my new riding buddy (who just placed 2nd in the B field!).
The day is clear and bright. Portland hums at that low vibration that characterizes a large town as opposed to a city. The bridges glimmer in the sun outside my office window as I change into my riding gear and load my back pockets with supplies.
I head over the Burnside bridge and up into the NW to pick HG up and then we’re off.
Forest Park is alive with color and mud. We spin up, up, up and up, talking as we go. I get the full race report. I find out that HG used to be a competitive half-pipe snowboarder – spinning circles in the air high above the icy white.
I find out that she’s a gear whore in the truest sense of the word. Her boyfriend, like mine, obsessively shops for bikes and components on ebay and Craigslist. She likes the best shit, and she knows exactly what she’s talking about. (Have I found my female cycling soulmate!? 😉
We ride up Leif Erickson about eight and a half miles, talking all the way. As we get into the 6th and 7th mile the mud gets thicker, the path more narrow, and the obstacles more numerous. We’re skipping over fallen branches and scattered debris, slogging through mud puddles, and ducking low branches.
It smells like fall. Damp and crisp. The sunlight beyond the trees that surround us is inspiring as it starts to slowly fade.
We descend Saltzman, ride quickly from Highway 30 to St. Helens Road, and then roll up Vaughn and back to her apartment.
It’s 6:30pm and the sun is almost gone as I get back to my office to pick up my backpack. I ride home to a house filled with candles and incense, and a bath that has already been drawn for me. My heart is big and full of cyclocross.
I kiss my bike and throw my cycling gear into a pile outside the bathroom door. In the bath I scrub the mud off my face and think about how lucky I am to live in this town, with this sport, those trails, my team, and a fall to rival any season anywhere… ever.
Here’s to muddy trails and hot baths.