Monday, July 18, 2011

The Descent of the Col de Jeb Stuart

It is a cool, misty morning when a single rider mounts his bike, his face grim with determination.  The cycle computer registers 14.5 MPH at the campsite and jumps to 24 before the gate leading to the CLIMB. The rider slips out of his big chain wheel for few minutes it takes to conquer that category 0.00 climb, then tips over the crest.  On a big descent, there are two possible paths to glory. One, you can stop pedaling and let the hill take you, anticipating those water cooler moments when  you can throw off “Yeah, didn’t turn a pedal for 12 miles.”  OR, YOU CAN LET THAT PONY RIDE….
For option two, one needs steady nerves, reasonably good tires and a working speedometer.  Alas, Technological Torments befell our rider.  No speed indicator, hence no satisfying bragging rights. ..and just when a new land speed record was within our grasp…
Nothing to do now but carom downhill at speeds clearly near terminal velocity and check out the scenery.
Wow, Straight Fork is getting a little noisier, a waterfall, and another. Probably no one but a biker would see them.
The Rhododendrons are dropping petals and each rock has an upstream wreath of white.
No sense looking in the rear view; no one passes us at these speeds.
Maybe if I fiddle with the … No, hands back on the bars, here come the triple S curves.  SORRY can’t reduce to 25.
Blue Bonnets  and Queen Anne’s Lace in the sun near the road edge, Honeysuckle somewhere – smell it? 
MOVE Turtle.  OK, OK  don’t.  Just be glad you have witnessed this fearsome ride…. 

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