23 August 2008

Evening Ride

I took an evening ride last Sunday after the strongest portion of the summer’s heat had faded. An hour or so of sunlight remained as I headed east from my house, aiming my bike for the nearest dirt road. The first portion of the ride would be brief as I made my way to the top of one of the smaller bluffs that overlooked the Palouse.

Preferring the view from the top of the hill, I decided to stop and wait awhile to see what display the sun might provide that evening. There was a haze on the horizon, a blend of smoke from distant fires to the west and wheat dust stirred up by an army of farmers harvesting their crop.

From an intense yellow into a deep crimson, the sun spilled its colors into the sky and over the rolling countryside. Rows of grain swirling in a slant of light, a serpentine maze around the rolling buttes; the scent of ripening wheat carried on the warm summer breeze.

To the east, a full moon rose out of the silhouetted mountains of the Idaho panhandle, contrasting in the fading twilight with the rolling hills of Washington State in the foreground.

Resting there on the tender slope of a recently harvested hillside, staring at the side of the world, I fixed my eyes west; over countless knolls and valleys and imagined the places that I have been; out there just beyond the horizon. The Cascades, the Olympic peninsula Mts. Hood, Baker, St. Helens and Rainier; veritable giants, all of them out of sight, but clearly visible in my minds eye. From my view on this diminutive butte, my imagination needed little help to visualize those distant places, places that I wish to visit again and definitely with my bike.

There is little moisture in the air out here and with no cloud cover to trap the hot air; the triple digit temperatures from earlier in the day began to drop. Time to ride. I stayed on the dirt road that I was on to where it ended at an unknown highway. This happens a lot out here in regards to losing ones sense of place. There are only a few landmarks to navigate by and when they are out of sight it can be anybodies guess as to where I might wind up. I have become familiar with some of the roads out here, but I am still a stranger to many. When that happens, I ride until I find something recognizable, a grain elevator, a farm, or perhaps an occasional road sign that will point me towards something that I might know. I love discovery, getting lost is something that gives me very little discomfort; I remained lost that evening for about another thirty minutes or so until my mystery highway intersected with one that I knew well.
I followed that road home.

The heat was stifling last weekend, too hot to enjoy riding in the middle of the day; that evening ride provided the balance that I needed to begin my work week on Monday. The drastic temperature change and rain showers that followed through the middle of the week provided the rest of that balance. Entering this weekend, things look perfect.

What to do.

Ride Well.