Crisp mountain wind cools as we ascend through the switchback. Lost in thought, as I pedal, gazing to the peak ahead, I feel each movement, hear each sound and smell the mountain’s aromas: the clang of cow bells on a distant slope, the crunch of the gravel under the tires, the scent of pine and earth, the breeze on my arms, the warmth of the sun on my back, and the pressure of my feet on the pedals. The bike sways beneath me in a rhythm. “En danseuse” as the French say. The beauty of the surrounding environment steals our words and we pedal without conversation, absorbing the moment.
At the summit, we’ll stop at a creek, to dip our feet in the cool water. Further up, there’s a mountain hut, with a cook and caretaker who welcomes us, and has anticipated the hunger the effort has created. We eat and drink, then press on.
The descent off of the mountain takes us on snow machine tracks, ski trails and then gravel roads. Rocks flick up from tires, hitting shins and tapping glasses. Eyes water from the dust and speed. Cliffs rise up to the right and drop to the left. And, I feel alive.