Luck marries place, time-of-day and weather, not planning. Climbing under the sun with no shade. Tailwinds rolling off a pass. Sleet on a summit before a huge descent. Rain two miles into a 100 mile day. It’s all luck.
And as all riders know, it’s not as simple as good conditions equal good energy and moods. Some indescribable, indefinable mood cocktail appears to determine what works and what doesn’t. Some synthesis of a rider’s internal mood, the mood of the group and the mood of the day, can either inspire or discourage efforts.
Whatever the case, while the day and story may be informed and inspired by an amalgamation of weather, time and place, it’s weather that’s the most fickle and likely the most important of the three. On long rides conceived in part to transform and challenge; conditions, atmosphere and environment go along way to dictate the mood and write the story. Weather is mercurial wherever you are, but in the mountains, things change fast, without warning and in ways you’d never expect.
In the Wasatch between Salt Lake City and Park City on a one hundred and fifteen mile loop, the sun was everything. On Main Street, in Park City, at seven-thirty in the morning it raked the van and our pre-ride ritual, casting long shadows and heat. An hour later, not a cloud in the sky, it dappled and streaked our way over Empire Pass. On Guardsman, a long and steep dirt road over the main pass, it lit the massive, billowing dust clouds kicked-up by passing jeep tours and pick-ups packed with anglers and woodsman. On Big Cotton Wood Canyon it was a rush of brightness as we descended for nearly an hour through turns and ridges and pockets of the west facing canyon, alternating between day and night.
Through Salt Lake City on Wasatch Boulevard in the foothills it was just summer-hot; bright, stupid, sharp and mean. On our way up Emigrant Pass, we rode through heat hitting hundred and two degree, storm clouds moved in and passed over like iceberg shadows. At the top and on our way down the eastern slope the light bloomed and softened through a layer of thickening haze low in the sky. On Jeremy’s Ranch, another dirt road, this one rolling and near-perfect in its ability to twist and bank effortlessly through a pristine riparian valley, the light continued to blossom. Back into town we rode backlit and silhouetted. And finally, in the river back home beside the cabin, the last bit of sun left in the day refracted and sparkled our spray and splash.
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