A sunny day's ride [Taboo Words Contest entry for 5/2019].
In concept, the plan was simple: ride from the house down to Wadsworth Boulevard and back, just under thirteen miles each way, with all of the outbound leg being, quite literally, a downhill coast. In retrospect, I'll concede that it was a fairly ill-considered plan. Downhill all the way out means uphill all the way back, with substantial portions of that trip including a significant incline. But--hey!--I was a high-school senior with all the energy in the world, and nothing to do all day so, no problem, right? Anyway...
My trusty ten-speed Schwinn and I labored up the driveway--one-eighth of a mile long and steep up the last bit to the main road. I stopped for a moment to savor the view down the sunlit valley, then gave us a little push with my left foot, and we were off. Our house was located in Colorado's Front Range, at an elevation of 8235 feet. As my designated turn-around point lay at about 5528 feet, picking up unwanted speed was easy to do, so it was something I kept an eye on. The paved portion of our road ended about four miles west of the house and I wouldn't see asphalt again for four miles, so the first part of the ride would be pretty bumpy over the graded, but rutted, gravel road; I didn't need excess speed making it even more hazardous.
After a couple of miles, all signs of civilization gradually petered out and it was just me, my Schwinn, a steep hillside to my left and a serious drop-off to my right. It might not qualify as an Acapulco-grade cliff, but there wasn't much to stop you between the road and the valley floor two hundred feet down, a fact to which a couple of rusted wrecks could attest. I kept to the center of the road. I was almost to the first hairpin turn, shortly after which I would be rolling on pavement, when the ride became violently bumpy. I had just enough time to look at my speedometer and wonder, "How in the world did I get up to 30 mph?", before I swapped my comfortable sitting position for an awkward sprawl and slide across the gravel.
As I sat up, a couple of things occurred to me. Firstly, I was glad I had opted for jeans and a long-sleeve shirt versus cut-offs and a t-shirt. Secondly, I was lying in the middle of the road, about twenty feet from the turn. Any car coming around that turn would have about two seconds to decide whether to go into the ditch on the left or the one on the right, in order to avoid hitting me. As I had no desire to become a hood ornament while some startled driver decided on a course of action, I got up as quickly as I could manage.
My right side was pretty scraped up, and riding, while still possible, wasn't much fun. The trek back to the house, my poor Schwinn by my side, took quite a while. I had worked up a pretty good sweat under the cloudless sky and was in a fair amount of pain, and I briefly considered just letting go of my Schwinn to watch it precede me down the driveway. In the end, though, we completed the journey together. I went inside to explore the possibility of removing clothing without removing any additional skin--yeah, right!--while my somewhat scarred companion rested his frame in his usual spot in the garage, silently awaiting our next adventure.