Surfacing: Up for Air

This place is about as wide open a space as you will find on the urban plane. 

The paths I travel here are equal parts dirt and gravel. The dirt is predictable. Even where rounded river rock adds a level of topography, the surface is still hard-packed, baked to an iron-pan denseness by the summer sun. Wheels can spin with assurance, with confidence. 

Then there are the little surprises of sand; move fast enough and you can get your heart to skip a beat, your breath to catch just below the trachea with the shock of suddenly coming upon, and riding into, one of them.

Patches of sand are deep enough to cause the rear wheel to fishtail from side to side. Fine grains are washed into hollows and depressions by infrequent flows of water, or blown by the incessant wind. Nor is the front wheel immune to the mutability of footing. Since it leads the way through I suppose "fish-tailing" is not quite accurate. Fish-heading? Dr. Demento comes to mind, and I silently sing, "fish heads, fish heads, roly poly fish heads…" all the while tightening my grip on the bars while willing the arms to remain loose. There is a delicate balance in the sand, but in a way it is predictable, it is expected. It is expected that handling will be more of a trick, pedaling more of an endeavor.

The gravel is what gets my wheels to intentionally slow a few rpms, at least at first. I never know what to expect. Will the little chunks of aggregate roll and take my wheels with them? Or will they crunch, firm in place, beneath my weight? Not so bad on the straight and wide, but to have it happen going into a turn could send you home with shredded kit, picking feldspar and granite from a bloody thigh. Trust your tires, pedal through, and don't forget to breath.