I find the sun still up and the weather nice after I finish weekend chores so head out for the usual jaunt up Rocky Canyon Road to the ridge and back down Trail 4. Or that’s the plan.
I knew some riding might happen so while finishing weekend chores I listened for the sound of kids playing in the street. One of the little neighbor boys has been motorcycle-curious but so far, even after donning Brenna’s outgrown gear and posing, has insisted he doesn’t actually want a culdesac ride until “tomorrow” — always tomorrow.
I love giving rides to young and less-young and thought today might be the day but the street remained silent, sure sign of a kidless culdesac, so I saddled up the steel horse for one.
Rocky Canyon, nearby road to the ridge, is a gauntlet of memories — crazy drives with Brett and friends before we knew where the road went; aiding the police with Laura; Mormon Cricket infestations; multiple sledding trips — all whizzing by.
My brain remembers but my body quickly forgets the thrill of riding. I get that “holy crap, this thing is crazy” sense whenever I’ve been away from it a few weeks. It’s a fun way to get into a kind of flow state free of perennial concerns.
I wasn’t set on trail riding with the big bike today but I’m feeling pretty good. I think I’ll go for it.
I am stopped for a photo above a descent when I see a headlight bouncing my way. I ease my way down and come aside a guy on a blue and orange KTM 950. Sweet. Another big bike rider. We each cut our engines.
“I wondered how those would do on these trails,” he says, referring to my 1290.
“Pretty good,” I say. “Do you want to take it up the trail a bit, give it a try?”
“Oh, no,” he answers quickly. “I fall down a lot.”
“Are you coming up from the parking lot?” I ask.
“No. I think there are some rough sections down that way,” he explains. “Is that where you’re going?”
“Yeah, I think so.”
We wish each other well as we revive our machines.
It is surprisingly warm and dry up here. I didn’t need to zip my pants and jacket vents closed.
I must have been distracted by the developing sunset to go left when I should have gone right at the last wye. This trail isn’t familiar.
It is official. I’m on Trail 6. I know it eventually meets up with 4 but in spite of all the times I’ve come up here, I’ve never tried this way. I’m excited to see how it goes.
This trail seems more rutted than my usual route. I’ve had a couple low speed wash outs but nothing troubling. In fact, it’s a lot of fun! I enjoy some strategery.
The sunset grows more brilliant, minute by minute. I hustle to reach the next ridgetop before it fades. When I think it can’t get any brighter, the oranges any oranger, it does.
I have often passed by a place and thought, “I could never have imagined when I was last here that my life would be the way it is now.”
The unpredictability of my own future is both alarming and thrilling, a sunset filled with unforeseen hues, fading to night.
I am mildly relieved when I finally reach Trail 4. The rest of the way I know.
As I drop into Hulls Gulch, I glance up and notice a lone woman standing astride her bicycle on the ridgeline above, facing the still-brilliant sunset.
“Thank you,” I call as I pass two bicyclers who have pulled to the side as I make my way up from the creek crossing to the 8th Street parking lot. It’s dark and this trail is a bit steep and narrow so I’m grateful for the accommodation. One calls something back that I can’t hear — something affirmative, I trust.
An SUV is parked where the trail meets the lot, its back open and a couple reclined inside, laughing, watching the sunset. I circle around and stop fifty yards away to see for myself how this sunset will end. The now chilly night air continues broadcasting their laughter as I search in the dark for a place to set my tiny tripod.
An idyllic sunset is a nice capstone to an invigorating, if brief, foothills ride. I stay until the color has drained from the sky then reactivate the music in my helmet for company on the dark ride home.