Seasons define the heart of a mountain community. Berry picking falls, snow-shredding winters, river-rushing springs and of course, dirt-dry riding summers. Funny that this precarious balance of seasons teeters on a simple 23-degree tip around which our orb spins day and night. Once every year the axis of our tilted planet crosses perpendicular to its elliptical motion through space around the sun.
At this single crossing point the northern latitudes are pointed more directly at the sun than any other day of the year causing the sun to trace the largest arc across our sky creating the longest day of the year, aka the first day of summer, aka summer solstice.
This planetary alignment allows opportunity to push the limits of mountain adventure while fully utilizing the amazing place we live. All in a single day. The plan: ride with the sun in true mountain style. Not just turning cranks from sun up to sundown. But rather, pounding serious vertical in true harsh terrain with smooth flow in an offering of whispered reverence for our life giving sun.
At sunrise two Icicle community local riders set out to achieve this goal. Summiting the first ride to find the trail devastated by sheep. 6 to 8 inches of eroded soils and trampled grasses made dropping in much like playing beach volleyball with swimming flippers on. No matter, pushing on and shredding with true mountain style, mismanaged lands will not deter the deserving honor of the sun. Gripping to the rocks lower down the trail like an inverter free-climber all past erosion is forgotten. Moving on, spinning out the second ride of carving bank turns swirling like the whirlwind building in the sky. Morning dew is gone now. Sun is heating and cranks are creaking.
Pounding third ride gravel, pain starts to set only to be alleviated by a summit of glorious Leavenworth views and Blewett majesties. Sliding the steeps through the last balsamroot clinging to the hillside, circular discs heat to a degree befitting of the sun. Oh the joy of radiant river cooling! Reset and ready for ride four.
Cooler now under the canopy that has grown thick while reaching for the sun. Floating light as feathers due to a interesting combination of the orientation of normal forces on solstice and the alignment of new moon with sun, an antigravity is created and opposes the earth’s own pull. Rider delirium setting in now, as summit is reached the climb is already a distant memory. Variable undulating loamy granite rolling true to the forest of this ride is the only way to describe.
Onto the fourth distinct drainage defining this day of riding. Serious quandaries abounding at this point… Why do this? Is this excessive? Longing to stop. The sun comes up everyday. Keep turning wheels -it’s the least one can do to honor it properly. Uncontrollable giddy giggling of endorphin poisoned minds abound at the ride five summit. Nevertheless, full speed riding with steeds dancing to the tread that was created solely from wheels. Vegetation overgrown, but the trail holding as one of the best in our valley.
Much like staring at the sun, ride six and seven become a blur. Glowing ribbons of single track lead wheels down the path. Creeping the steepest descent of the day in total darkness, the sun’s influence is now gone and its importance never more appreciated. Settling at the bottom like a deposit of drained energy, it’s finally over. For today that is… Cheers to the hero Sisyphus with an ice cold Rolling Rock with knowledge of doom that the rock will have to be pushed back up that hill all over again tomorrow. Just as the sun will drive our progression and passion round and round, up and down, over and over again.
All in all. 6 sandwiches, 6 Homefires Bakery trail cookies, 6 gallons of water, 6 cups of coffee affording: 16 hours of motion on 7 separate trails for 12,000ft vertical single track descent. All in pure mountain riding style, all pedal driven.