The #reverb10 prompt for Dec 3:
December 3 – Moment.
Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).
October 3, 2010 – about twenty miles into the Tour de Poway bicycle ride, the descent from Ramona to Escondido along Route 78. The big climb of the morning has been conquered. Encapsulated in fog, I could only see a few riders in front of me as I ascended. Thus spared the mental anguish of seeing the long road climbing ahead, I focused on the pedaling of the moment and ground my way to the top without despair. After watching the sun break through the fog over the more gentle climb of Route 67, I have rolled through Ramona, nostrils singed in proximity to the freshly fertilized fields. Before the ride, I am most anxious about the the unknown descent; on tough hills, the worst case scenario is a slow-speed side flop – if the road gets too steep for me to unclip from my pedals, I will fall to the right while moving less than 2.5 miles an hour – comical if not for the scrapes to knee, elbow, and bike. Unknown descents though, I actively fear – the possibility of flying off the road at 30+ miles an hour after missing a switchback lives vividly in my imagination, though I’ve never really come close. As I descend from Ramona though, the road opens up in front of me, the fog has risen high enough to reveal the classic Southern California boulder-strewn desert landscape, but still filters the sun and tempers the morning light. Early on a Sunday morning, the road is nearly car-free. Most turns are visible well in advance, and my confidence climbs as I let my bike freewheel down into the valley, absorbing the scenery as I roll by – even at the speed of descent, the connection to the landscape is much more visceral compared to simply driving through, encased in steel and glass. A few riders are more cautious, and I zip past them. Even while reveling in the joy of speed, the effort of the descent takes its toll – my eyes tear up from the wind, my hands ache from the effort of tensing on the brake hoods – and I soon catch up with other riders as the road flattens out, and the perfect moment comes to an end with a mini-traffic jam, as a stream of cars catches up and passes. Impatient drivers enraged by the tentative ones, the Sunday ride is momentarily transformed into a weekday commute, the beautiful descent resigned to memory.