Monday, July 5, 2010

Trail of Joy

Earlier this year I embarked on a new journey in my career that dramatically changed my work schedule. This has allowed for two very important things. First, I am now able to go to Crossfit in the wee morning hours before I make the low speed commute to my secluded, windowless office. The second little bit of wonderfulness is the introduction of a Friday afternoon bike ride. Monday through Thursday I fight crime(or something like that) into the early evening hours. On Friday, however, I am set free at lunch time to head out into the world with my wings fully extended. I find this to be pleasing.

With a long holiday weekend at my finger tips I chose to launch myself onto the trails of the US National Whitewater Center. They are not the most challenging trails in the world but they are fast and fun enough to hold my attention. This past Friday I chose to bring along a riding partner who I find endlessly amusing. He is relatively new the sport and is always good for at least one spectacular crash per ride. Our ride this weekend was no different. I sadly missed his acrobatic display because my new bike and I got a bit carried away. I just can't help myself sometimes. I knew something was wrong when I waited at the top of a hill and found myself alone for quite some time. When I rolled back to find my partner he was slumped over his shiny red Cannondale with a look of abject terror on his face. I'll spare you the details of his specific injury but lets just say that only men can understand why laughter was not allowed. Our ride was enjoyable overall but my camera stayed in my pocket for the majority of the time. I did take a moment to snap one quick picture.

My weekend led from one joyful trail to the next with a significant change in topography and in the chosen mode of transportation. To celebrate the 4th I took a trip to South Mountain State Park. It was hard to leave my beloved singlespeed behind but after a long embrace and a few tears I said goodbye as the little Italian dragged me to the car. This was to be a hiking trip which means no 29ers allowed. Just Chuck Taylors.

There are very few places I would rather be than the Western half of North Carolina. Ever since my first trip to NC in 2002 I have longed to live here. Our Sunday hike was a delightful reminder of why. Spending week upon crowded week in the Queen City it is easy to forget what the NC wilderness has to offer. I will most certainly be much more mindful of the gaps between my mountain day trips from this point forward. I had an absolute blast chasing trout, climbing on rocks and simply gulping in the fresh air. My camera did come out to play, just for bit.

If all goes well this tiny brook trout will some day be big, hungry and chasing my fly

Not a bad spot to stop for a break

My weekend came to a close right where it began. I joined a few thousand of my closest friends back at the USNWC to watch the fireworks. I feel quite fortunate to be able to celebrate two major national holidays in the month of July. I, like most Americans, love Independence Day. But two weeks from now while everyone else is lost in the blur that is summer, I will be celebrating Bastille Day. Am I French? Well, not exactly. But I'm working on it. If all goes according to plan I'll spend my final days wearing skinny black jeans and drinking over-priced coffee out of a tiny cup. Ahh boyish dreams.

So yes, I am well aware that the Tour de France started this weekend. I originally planned to go on and on about the finer points of the UCI's 3:1 aspect ratio rule and how Lance can't possibly win. That would have been great. For me anyway. The first three days of the race have been fairly exciting albeit predictable. Cancellara won the prologue. A bunch of people crashed. And I got a phone call exclaiming that Armstrong's fourth place finish on day one is a sure fire indication that he is going to be on the top step of the podium in Paris. Yeah, no. Check back in a week after a few mountains have sorted out the GC as I'm sure I'll have much more to say about the race at that point. I will say that I have spent far too much time this weekend reading race analysis and checking out photos of the latest and greatest tour tech. Good bike porn is hard to beat. Damn I love July.

I'll leave you with a parting shot taken as the sun dropped behind the trees on Sunday evening. I watched climbers scale the tower in front of me in the fading light as I sat quietly waiting for the sky to explode in the annual celebration of our independence. With memories of a weekend well lived dancing through my head and the little Italian at my side I could not help but to think that it is indeed wonderful to know that another little adventure could be right around the corner.

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