In the Saddle: One last ride
October 28, 2006
Saturday’s sunshine and calm winds lured me into what may have been my final bike ride of the season.I lugged the road bike down from its pegs, pumped up the tires and nearly froze once I left the deceptively balmy confines of my front porch at midday. Twice before I left my neighborhood, I stopped to add more clothing. When only my face was bare, and chilled, I headed down the frontage road from El Jebel to the Catherine Store, taking in the scents of wood smoke and decaying leaves that always trigger memories of autumns long past in faraway places.I had a destination in mind – the newly completed stretch of the Rio Grande Trail that links the Catherine Bridge to Hooks Lane. A good chunk of it will be closed off to use starting Dec. 1 – a date not that far off – and won’t reopen until May 1, in consideration of wildlife. I figured my chances to enjoy it yet this year were dwindling, so I zipped across the bridge and swung left onto the new ribbon of black asphalt.As soon as I turned onto the four-mile section, the sounds of traffic on Highway 82 disappeared. I could hear only the rush of the cold, clear Roaring Fork River, tumbling over boulders and shallow riffles, right next to the trail. Until I emerged at Hooks Lake, the only other sound was the air rushing past my ears as I rode.It’s an awesome stretch of trail, offering exploration of a stretch of the river I had never seen before. The climb upvalley is almost imperceptible and the scenery is first-rate – rural almost all the way, with the river to one side and a steep slope rising up on the other until the landscape broadens out into beaver ponds and pastures. Horses were taking in what may be the last of Indian summer before winter sets in for the long haul. Other trail users were doing the same, strolling along the trail or biking up and down the expanse in quiet reverie. At Hooks, I was sorely tempted to turn around and ride the section again, as there are invariably new views to savor whenever I reverse direction. But a road ride was the quicker way home, and I had other matters awaiting my attention.As I hung up the bike, it occurred to me my biking days could well be finished until sometime next spring, when the deceptive warmth of some spring day lures me into the saddle for what will invariably be a cold ride despite the beguiling sunshine.But now, the skis are standing in the corner and snow in the high country beckons. For everything, there is a season.