44 miles - no big deal. But in my head it was a big deal. McKenzie Pass. We joked in our Team in Training rides that it was never a good sign when a road on our cue sheet had "Hill" in its name. Copeland Hill comes to mind as a very clear example. Well, Pass falls into the same category. When there is a Pass in the name, there is climbing to be done and, for me, worse: descending.
At the map meeting last night, there was lots of shared anxiety about the climb and being able to do it. For me, that was not the hard part. For me, descents are what keep me up at night. And it was true again last night. I was imagining tight hairpin turns at steep inclines with traffic and no shoulders. The only part of that which was true was the no shoulders part. The descent had relatively few turns, compared to the climbing side. The grade was not as bad as I imagined either. I did not feel as though my rear wheel was going to go over my head even once. Because nothing was too difficult about today's ride, I could enjoy the amazing experience of being in that gorgeous place.
The first thing that struck me was the tremendous quiet. I was riding by myself for all of the climb, and the sounds my bike and I made were the only consistent sounds. There were occasional birds and cars, but for 22 miles, it was mostly me interrupting this extreme quiet. The trees were enormous. The evidence of previous fires was stark and vast. The lava fields were beyond anything I had ever seen before and (until last night) totally unexpected! The day offered me the chance to be with myself and to feel my body do its work. Once again, anxiety was a waste of sleep. Today, I felt at ease and totally present in a way I normally have to work really hard to even approximate. What a gift to the soul today was.