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The Beardcicle Chronicles: Weird Fishes


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I have strange moments of feeling like time has eluded me. That there is no way that my children are as old as they are or that I am as old as I am, that I’m living some overly-detailed dream of life and I will awake and be 16 again.

Deja vu all over again. I know I’ve said this before. Somewhere.

Maybe I haven’t, but it sure feels like I have.

There are ways to get out of my head. Ways to stop thinking about the future or the past or mistakes made or mistakes contemplated. Some people drink or smoke a bowl or lift weights, or, God forbid, run. I bike.

This past weekend I found an even better way to get out of my head while on bike.

Hill climbs.

Yes I love the speed of going downhill, knowing I am just at the edge of control. But I’d never given uphill rides their fair shake. Mostly because my uphill rides are generally in service of coming back down and are short, steep affairs.

This weekend I learned that riding long, slow, steep up hills forces the brain to either focus on the pain or switch off. I’m lucky in that my brain likes to switch off whenever it can, so I switched off and just climbed.

I started at Gold Mint Mine with a ride up trail to an avalanche run out where the trail became too soft to ride enjoyably, so I turned around, bombed down the hill and back to the parking lot. Once there it was decision time. Uphill to where my family was enjoying their own outdoor adventures, or downhill and meet them at home?

Image by Wiki Loves Monuments 2012, Creative Commons License
Image by Wiki Loves Monuments 2012, Creative Commons License

I decided to climb.

The road to Independence Mine is a fairly popular cycling road. One sees a lot of lycra on this road in the summer months. Lots of carbon fiber bikes that cost more than any pair of things I own aside from my house, which in all honesty the bank owns, but whatever.

I don’t know how much elevation is gained, but I know I climbed more than a thousand feet from parking lot to parking lot, and even more as I rode all the way to the mine itself. I don’t know the exact mileage from lot to lot, nor do I know my average cadence or watts output. What I do know is that I did the climb in the sun on my 4.0 inch wide tire fat bike and it was glorious. And there was not a stitch of lycra to be seen.

For the hour or so it took me to make the climb my thoughts were completely quiet. I rode, felt the sun on my skin, and just smiled.

By the time I got to the top, I was in a t-shirt and my beard was frosty. It was a blast.

Don’t know if the point of meditation is to get the mind to completely shut off and just let the brain work, but if it is, I think I’ve found my gateway into that Zen world of just being. A hill, a bike, some sun, and a smile.