I Know Your Face


It is only mid-July, six-thirty in the evening and the shadows are already long. Now that i think about it, the shadows always seem to be long up here at Coyote Howl Point. The horizon is elevated thanks to the surrounding hills, and so the sun sets earlier than it does down in the flat city. Funny thing is, while the horizon line may be higher, that does not affect the suns position in the sky. So why do the shadows seem longer?

Anyway, now that the CHWP Loop has made its way back into my repertoire of weekly rides (Tuesdays, just in case you want to avoid the place) i have begun to rediscover some familiarity up there in the canyons and on the hillsides. Some of these are physical to the landscape  - the same rutted sections, loose patches, hop rocks. Others have more to do with me - the steeper pitches where i want to push more, for instance, are the same ones they were four and more years ago; i take this as a good sign - at least my fitness has not declined during the intervening years.

The other evening (three weeks ago, to be exact) i was nearing the high point, just before the run down Cobal Canyon begins, when i spotted another rider up ahead. At first i redoubled my efforts to catch him, but as i closed in i began to rethink that strategy. We were too close to summiting for me to be able to open a gap. "That'd be embarrassing if i go around him at the top only to be re-passed on the descent," i thought. Clearly there is an under-abundance of confidence in my ability to descend that needs to be resolved. So instead, i began to soft pedal, trying to hang back. It was the old wait and see strategy - wait and see if he could descend better than he could climb than i could. I might have succeeded too, had it not been for the helmet strapped to his handlebar stem. Stopping at the top to put it on, left me with no choice but to pass him up. It was at that exact moment that i glanced over and realized it was Steven F.; who else would be riding a vintage old school steel, no suspension, Fat Chance up there anyway?

Each Tuesday evening dredges forth another familiar path from the shoals of memory - where to take the inside line, where to shift outside, where i am comfortable letting the bike run at speed, where i am wary and hold it back. In the Lord of the Rings there is a line spoken by King Theoden upon waking from a trance in which he has been ensnared - "I know your face" he says. My prolonged absence from the Wilderness Park has me thinking the same, reawakened by old memories - I know your face, these curves, edges, the hollows, changes in texture. They are all there, as they ever were.

The question you are wondering is, did Steven pass me up? Oh yes. Within a couple turns of the top. [Sigh].

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