Haystack in a view from my neighborhood
Earlier this summer, I teetered on top of a step-ladder and reached above my head to unhook my dusty road bike from a hook on the ceiling. Strong impulsive tendencies still course through my veins. If I had lost my grip, my heavy bike would have crashed to the garage floor shattering all of my clay pots below me. My arms shook in response to its weight, but I kept my balance and set it down on its flat and cracked rubber tires. I had longed to ride my bike and was propelled by the fear of having to get a knee replacement someday.
When I graduated from college I drove with friends to Jackson Hole Wyoming to ski. The last day we ventured down Pepi’s run where I face-planted, twisting my knee when the ski did not release. Years of tennis and bump skiing in the Colorado Rockies has taken its toll and biking is one of the best cures for knee problems.
With the cracked tires filled, I ran upstairs to dress. I found my bike shorts and fluorescent yellow shirt up on a shelf. With so many drivers distracted on cell phones, I was happy to look like a human yield sign! My helmet had collected its fair share of dirt and spider webs over the years. I smiled when I discovered my biking gloves inside out from the last time I wore them.
As I rolled my bike out of the garage, the clock on the wall read 4:30. A strong breeze struck me headlong. “An hour ride will be perfect.” I had already played two hours of tennis and did not want to overdo it since I had another match the next morning. The seat had been adjusted for one of my kids when they were younger. “Oh well. I’m not going far. I will raise the seat next time.” I rode down into town thinking I could handle a round-trip ride to Hygiene. This quaint little enclave in the Boulder Valley is a popular destination for bikers. The small grocery store at the town’s center is a gathering place and I promised myself some kind of ice cream treat upon my arrival.
Just the beginning of my ride
I rode through the red light across the highway and thought, “Jeez, I probably should have stopped.” I bet more than one driver waiting for the light to turn green took my name in vain!
When I pedaled past 75th Street I figured it was too early for the turn north to Hygiene. Yellow and purple wildflowers lined the country road and the spectacular view of the foothills drew me onward. A miniature mountain called Haystack which rises up out of the valley became my point of reference. Bikers on the other side of the road greeted me with “the nod.” Some actually waved. There is an instant camaraderie among bike riders and I was glad to be a part of it again.
A south side view of Haystack
Soon I passed the entrance to Lake Valley and knew I had gone way too far. Now I knew why my knee cap had slid over to the outside of my knee. New muscles made themselves known for the first time in years! I gazed back over my shoulder at the enormous hill I had just coasted down. There was no way I would turn around and ride back up that monster. It could be a killer! The wind would no longer be in my face if I road north on highway 36.
I turned onto the single lane highway and shared the road with commuters blasting by at 65 mph. This highway runs along the base of the foothills and with the slight increase in elevation, it presented amazing views of the Boulder Valley. The ever-changing vista on my ride included every shade of green reminding me of Ireland. I passed lush farmland where horses grazed enjoying the tender shoots of grass. Golden hawks flew above me and one called out sending a chill up my spine. Haystack had been out in the distance in the beginning of my ride and now I was well beyond it. The foothills undulated like big toes attached to giants legs along the west side of the winding road.
I found myself on a downhill coast when I passed Nelson Road. I remembered a huge hill I would have to climb if I headed east, so I thought, “Screw that!”
With each familiar road I passed, I slowly made the decision to ride to Lyons. I turned onto Highway 66 and finally headed east. I would ride to Hygiene as planned, but would enter from the north instead of the south. By this time, my bike seat felt like an unpadded iron rod. I stood up on my pedals to release the tension in my tired arms, tight shoulders, cricked neck and sore butt.
The intersection I had been longing for!
As I entered Hygiene on 75th street, towering cottonwoods rose up, dwarfing the small homes along the road. The shade was a welcome respite. I finally recognized the country store on the corner. I had reached my destination. I pulled up onto the gravel driveway and parked my bike. I felt an old familiar weightless sensation after riding as I sauntered up, but my heart sank when I stared through the darkened windows.
My cell phone read 6:3o! They had closed a half hour ago. I had been riding for two hours already. I kept myself from calling home for a “sag wagon” and climbed back on my bike for what I thought would be a half hour ride home.
Southbound from Hygiene
The muscles located above my knees which had been dormant for so many years, now burned like hot pokers. What they call “sits bones,” in yoga now felt like “raw bones.” I pedaled to the intersection I had blown through over two hours ago and this time pushed the button for the light to change. “How will I make it up the behemoth hill back up to my house?”
Getting closer to my turn-off
I stood up temporarily relieving my sore butt bones and cranked my handle bars back and forth. I remembered that a neighbor’s house was a half mile away from home as I passed it. “These last few blocks are killing me!”
As I reached the top of the hill, I gathered speed for the last one. I careened onto my steep street and my bike quickly decelerated. “I can’t make it. I’ve either got to call for a ride this last half block or walk it.” I turned the corner and to my horror my neighbors stood outside their home chatting with a visitor. I couldn’t stop now! I jammed my bike into its granny gear and pushed and pulled with what was left on my reserve tank. I rolled up my driveway and into the garage.
“I made it!”
The clock in the garage read 7:10. I had ridden over two and one half hours and had traveled 35 miles! It had taken longer to ride from Hygiene than I anticipated. I made a carbo-loaded dinner of chicken with marinara sauce and pasta, showered, and was in bed with an ice pack by 9:00.
Home at last!
When I stepped out of bed the next morning my knees were pain-free. My neck and shoulders however, contained some knots as big as golf balls and the stiffness probably effected my tennis match. I am happy to report that I did not wait for the dust and spider webs to gather on my bike helmet before taking another cruise to Hygiene and I remembered to turn on 75th!
When was the last time you took a bike ride?
Photos by S. Lindau
A different kind of biking and yet I couldn’t resist!