Coach said that I was supposed to ride two hours today. I crawled out of bed as best as I could at 5:30am, and was as psyched as possible.
Unfortunately, the tri-bike decided to misbehave a bit this morning. There was an easy fix, but the more I messed with it the more it ate into valuable riding time. The vintage Benotto is off at a spa in California for its 25th birthday, so that left the CX bike.
So – what the heck – I took it out.
I’ve been riding this bike on rainy days this spring, and you may know that we have had a few. Last fall, Pete showed me a little loop not too far from PEMBAbase, and it has a couple hills that help with intervals. Early in the morning there are a lot of dog-walkers on the trail. They were very polite, and they also looked at me as if I may have been breaking another law. (And since last weekend’s adventures in lawlessness I have been trying to stay on the straight-and-narrow, I swear…)
The trail had changed radically in the few short weeks since I was on it last. It had become overgrown, and very green. There were fewer flowers, and more grasses and leaves. Instead of riding through calf-deep fresh spring shoots, I found myself shooting through tunnels of solid green. Leaves stuck to my helmet and shoes.
Growing up in Arizona and Wyoming, I learned to tell the difference between different sub-species of cholla cactus, and I know many Wind River Range native plants by smell alone. My friend Darren also grew up elsewhere, but he’s done a much better job than I have at learning the spectrum of Wisconsin flora. I’m inspired by his skills in this, so I’ll have to study some.
When you find a bit of nature and return to it again and again, you discover new things. The earth changes every day, and we only discover this when we take the time to notice. It’s probably not for nothing that the best naturalists became experts in small plots of local land. Thoreau had Walden Pond, Aldo Leopold had The Shack, and Darwin developed his ideas on the small islands of the Galapagos. When you focus on the particular and revisit it frequently, change reveals itself to you in ways that are measurable.
In our industry, we often promote the biggest, wildest, and furthest-flung adventures. These sorts of trips capture the imagination, because at heart we’re all aspirational enthusiasts. This isn’t a bad thing per se, but it seems that we need to weave in the idea that there is just as much to discover in the Hundred Acre Wood, just down the road, every dang day.