Thursday, September 23, 2010

When Jupiter Aligns with Mars

No, this won’t be a post about the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, but when autumn arrives it does tend to make me wistful.

I stepped out on the back porch last night; I’d heard dogs and was a bit worried that Chairman T. Cat might have gotten himself backed into a corner again. There was some snarling but it was just dogs disagreeing about something, the proposed repeal of the Bush Tax Cuts perhaps.

Something else caught my attention, like when you get smacked with a fish bat! There, hanging low on the eastern horizon was the full moon. I always want to call that the new moon, I understand the naming of the phases, just seems backwards to me.  Anyway, just to the north and a little lower was Jupiter, small but incredibly brilliant. Sort of like a big 12 MM pearl cocktail ring with a small sparkly diamond in the setting. It was not yet 'full on' dark but already the moon was casting that pale blue glow that makes the shadows look purple. I gave an involuntary shudder and stepped back into the kitchen, Chairman Meow was just able to slip through as the door closed. It made me think about what will take place later this evening.

Tonight, in a small navy shipyard town on the Kitsap Peninsula a collection of nervous cyclists will cue up near the Bremerton Ferry dock. They will fiddle nervously with their lights, their cue sheets, and their bike computers. They will reorder, repack, and reshuffle gear and gizmos. They’ll worry that they are dressed too warmly, or not warmly enough. And they’ll struggle to keep their bikes upright while schlepping a drop bag to some parking lot or SUV nearby.

Someone will let an out an involuntary expletive as they announce that they forgot something! They will explain that they mistakenly packed their shoe covers in the drop bag instead of the seat pack. A mad scurrying will ensue as the error is righted. This last minute problem will cause a ripple to run through the rest of the riders; amid nervous laughter some will involuntarily look down to make sure that they do indeed have their shoe coves on. All will think to themselves: “Shit! What am I forgetting?”

Old acquaintances will be renewed, new acquaintances will be made. There will be excitement and anticipation in the air, a buzz among riders as they check and recheck their last minute preparations. Water in the bottles? Check! Computer reset to zero? Check! Long finger gloves and balaclava at the ready? Check! The ride organizer will convene them all a few minutes before the start to give the last minute ride update and instructions. It will get pretty quiet because all the riders will be hungry for any last minute updates about the route, the weather, the roads. All the things that can’t be truly known until they have been experienced.

This brief discourse will be the distillation of hours and hours of effort (two pre-rides, a half dozen pre-riders, at least one pre-drive, and untold hours of planning) on the part of an organizing crew that really began with probably not much more than an audacious “What if we did this…?” remark over a beer after a ride months, possibly a year ago.

Someone had an idea that sounded crazy at the time, but upon consideration, crazy enough to land just short of the “No way, that’s TOO crazy!” demarcation line.  Is it too crazy? The true test arrives at this moment: If the organizer finds no one present to hear the pre ride announcements then it was indeed too crazy.  In this case several dozen riders will gather to listen intently, hoping for some bit of reassurance. Too crazy for most to be sure: we’re all tucked in with visions of dancing sugar plums, but a turnout of this size validates that this is indeed not too crazy at all, just crazy enough.

A ride along the coast of Washington and Oregon (and then through the Cascades) in late September can be chancy. Most things will be known but of course the weather is the ringer, and even the best forecast is just a human, guessing, based on past experience. The August pre-preride had pretty good weather, a little too hot for some perhaps, but no rain. Last week’s pre-ride presented the riders with rain, or some form of rain (‘showers’, mist’, ‘drizzle’) for most of the ride.  Earlier today it rained, but as I look out the window now, the pavement is dry, there are a few patches of blue sky wisping past and the wind seems to be out of the east, a help as the riders pass through the Chehalis gap.

The sky was not clear last night but there was a full view of the moon. Tonight, we can hope for the sake of the band of brave cyclists that the moon smiles down on them and that Jupiter reminds them that the stars had to align in just such a way at this particular moment, in this particular place, such that they can reasonably hope to find themselves 1000 kilometers to the south in three days time.

At midnight Geoff will say something like "That's it, ride safe, see you in Klamath Falls Sunday night", and with that they will begin their journey.

Allez 1000K riders, we wish you tail winds, mild temps and clear skies as you slip through the landscape by the light of the moon.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post - wish I could have been among this group...