Sunday, February 19, 2017

Atmospheric River

   This writing up every ride thing Ive been doing is nonsense. So once a week from now on. The best of.
    For the faithful. The handful.
    That said, yesterday, I was one of those days doing something you love that will become one of those stories you tell for the rest of your life. Feeling the original joy. The silly, wordless pleasure. The first time I figured out how to hit a backhand. How to ski by choice not gravity. First novel read cover to cover. First dancing unashamed. First kissing. First realizing, hey, she likes this as much as I do....
   Being enveloped in the world in both place and experience, all of it wrapped around me.
   Took the Mt Bike up to a canyon Ive ridden a hundred times before. An unremarkable route, an old standby. But from turn one somehow it all felt different. Precise, perfect, unique. Nothing I was doing: I wasn't any faster, smarter or more inspired. I was just in it, farther. Or "it" was ...more manifest. The penumbra of the present.
    LAs had oceans of rain this winter. Truly massive relentless storms passing over it on the way to the Sierra Nevada. The basin's filled with clouds. A giant auditorium of cumulus mayhem. I live up in the foothills and even walking down to a coffee shop the views are like Bierstadts brought to life.
    Everywhere you go there's water running were water rarely or never runs. Streams that reveal themselves once a decade have been flowing for months. Roads have washed out consistently enough to reroute traffic on an epic scale. Houses have lost backyards and porches and whole subsytems in mudslides down to their unfortunate neighbors below. Sinkholes. Power outtages. Intersections in the middle of the city with 3 feet of water collecting where no water's collected since the river was buried below in 1904.
   I did the usual endless switch back of mulholland to sepulveda and then up into the ridge roads dividing west LA from the Valley, dove down into Santa Monica canyon and took the right into Sullivan. The whole way the air around me seemed lit for the movies. It was like riding thru a Terrence Malick film. I breathed easy, my back felt fine, I wasn't gasping for breath and on the roads...there  was no one. It was as if the storm had hit so hard yesterday people were afraid to come out of the cellars and enjoy the peace, the aftermath.
   I rode uphill thru a stream for an hour. On a trail that should have taken me 20 minutes to climb. A river had cut thru this little canyon where sometimes a stream hints at its existence and where in the past I have seen rivulets or heard a gurgle or two behind the brush.
    The water was up to my calves, my feet submerged fully on the downstroke. Banks two feet deep took me down into mud and gravel. Great basic bike handling training. And honestly something Im sure people ride every day in Seattle or Vancouver. But if you spend enough time out here you start dry out. You start to expect the world to be void of things. To be simplified. As Daniel Day Crazy says in Gangs of New York " You are neither hot or cold!! You are but lukewarm and I will spew thee from my mouth!!' For some reason makes me think of walking thru the Grove shopping mall on a weekend. Anyhow...
    What in Pgh I wouldn't even qualify as a creek became fascinating to me. At every corner a new source of joy. And the chill of it, how cold the water was when it hit my feet or splashed up into my chest, you just don't get this very often out west of the West.
   I fell more times than I can count and at least once just leaned over into the hillside mulch to rest, just collapsed feet still in the pedals, took a minute and then pushed with my shoulder and pop I was up again, such is the camber of some of these slopes.
   I dont know....what was it....the damp....the temperature which at about 55 seems perfect for me for some reason I cant explain....the layer of mist which wiped out all views at about 700 feet you could climb into and out of....the lack of anyone hardly except the hardy old lady I always see hiking to the top of dirt Mulholland and a few dog lovers and two other cyclists one of whom stopped next to me on his descent when I pulled aside.. "never ...never been in anything like this here...20 years...." and we just smiled at each other.
   He didn't say " never seen". He said "never been in" which is what we were. IN a a ride. In a canyon, in the water, in the winter in my middle age but seriously riding up the last pitch at about no miles an hour and practically pulling the front wheel off the trail feeling like I was 12.


  1. The fantastic transformative power of water, there's nothing like it, other than human touch and love. Thank you for your inspiring words.

  2. I have enjoyed your writings. Really can't have too much of a good thing. I like your perspective on events. Entertaining and thought-provoking.

  3. Even after the storm after the destruction and floods and changes in the landscape, even in the quiet, there seems to be a charge, a spark, the ability to ignite something inside (excitement, being part of life, and not watching it from behind a window pane, a door or four walls), and every sense is set alight.
    A different ride to one you were expecting, tougher too. (those skinny old mans legs playing up?).
    Bierstadt is the only landscape painter i like more then just "that's pretty".

  4. Nice choice to concentrate on the 'best of'. It's a very vivid description of your ride, a real joy to read. Thanks.

  5. Just came across your blog... Congrats! Your words have inspired my words...
    One unnoticed drop falls for each of us.
    Silent tears escape.
    Taken for granted and used.
    Cravings of acknowledgement builds until a stream, a flood, pools from her skin.
    Settling in deep crevasses; overflowing its banks.
    Look at her. Embrace her gifts.
    Until that time her fury will surround your very being.
    An obnoxious, beautiful display; tormenting and enveloping your every thought.
    Her emotional storm cries for us.
    See and feel her cleansing ways.
    Give her your thoughts, for she will not relent until you not only feel her on your skin, but taste her in your soul....

    Sending you and everyone affected by the storms good energy!
    GOD Bless!