Sunday, August 31, 2014

Pondering the Magnitude of the Void

Today, rather than making circles, I took steps and went for a hike. The weather pattern has been cloudy in the lowlands, the marine layer in the valleys. Often, during one of these weather patterns, one can hike up above the clouds and be treated to magnificent views of wildflowers and surrounding peaks, like this.

Today was not one of those days. One never knows, until reaching the top, whether the clouds will be left below. Today, standing on the peak of Mt. Dickerman, I saw nothing but grey mist in every direction, as the mountain dropped away into the mist below. Near the edge of the north face, I could look down and see only grey directly below me.

I didn't take any pictures. There's no way a grey box on a screen can capture the utter groundlessness of being surrounded in this way. But Lao Tzu says it better than I can:

- 4 -

The Tao is empty but inexhaustible.

Eternal, like the void;

it is filled with infinite possibilities.

Infinitely deep, it is the source of all things.

Within it, sharp edges become smooth;

twisted knots loosen;

the sun is softened by a cloud;

the dust settles into place.

It is hidden but always present.

I do not know who gave birth to it.

It seems to be the common ancestor of all,

the mother of all things.

Monday, August 11, 2014


A great article on Flow and some reading suggestions on the subject can be found here, at one of my favorite cycling blogs, Red Kite Prayer.

Monday, July 28, 2014


Two summers ago I was in the midst of one of the worst years of my life, working at a job I disliked, dealing with all manner of expensive legal issues, breaking up with a girlfriend, and most of all, difficulties regarding my relationship with my daughter.  I was miserable.  All I could do to stay sane was ride, and ride I did.

I'm currently doing pretty well by way of comparison, and I've been riding into some decent summer form.  I set a PR on part of Golden Gardens the other day, but not the full segment.  I've been chasing my PR's since that miserable summer when I set them all.  All that emotional baggage I was carrying made me lose a ton of weight, and I was riding lots and just floating up hills.  Every time I look at a PR, it's from that terrible summer.

It's funny to me that those are the times I'm now chasing, that I could look back on a time so craptacular in my life and realize that it wasn't so bad.  There were good, redemptive things that I made happen through simply riding.  Perhaps we can see now the blessings in life that seemed like curses at the time and realize that what seems cursed now will someday be a blessing as well.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


We too often in life and on the ride make a mistake.  On the bike, just a moment of inattention can have painful consequences involving leaving skin on the tarmac, and the same is true of life.  Under such circumstances, we have little choice but to dust ourselves off, get back on the bike, and do what we can to enhance the body's natural recovery.  We know there may be sleepless nights of wounds sticking to sheets and getting up in the morning feeling stiff and sore, but we also know that if we let the natural processes work, we will slowly heal ourselves.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Morris/Hemlock Valley Road

I was up in BC and of course had to do some exploring of the two wheeled pedal variety, and I chanced on this gem of a climb up the Morris and Hemlock Valleys.  This area seems about 90 km from Vancouver, and starts in the Fraser River Valley.

I started my ride just after the Morris Valley road turns off to the north from Highway 7 along the shores of Lake Harrison, which seems to provide hydro power to Vancouver.  The road continues along the lakefront almost indefinitely, if one looks at the map, and it all looks rather remote.

Several KMs into the ride, there is a turnoff to the left to take the Hemlock Valley road up to a ski area.  This is always promising in terms of elevation gain, and the road points immediately skyward from the get go.  It doesn't; however, stay pointed in any one direction for long, and as it twists and switchbacks its way up the drainage, the gradients change sharply and suddenly.

Looking back down toward the Fraser Valley.

As I made more progress, attacking the steeps and recovering somewhat on the shallower sections, the road becomes more gravel and less pavement.

A typical switchback on the route illustrates how the grade is steepest toward the center of the corner.

The climbing did not last.  About 3k up the road, the pavement gave way to gravel of a particularly ball bearing like sort.  I rode some way up it, but turned around to see how it was descending it.  This was scary - too scary for me, and I continued my way back down on the reappearing pavement.

Monday, June 9, 2014

North Cascades Highway, part Deux

I made circles to the top of Washington Pass finally, after riding most of it car free a couple of weeks prior.

Looking down the other side of the pass.  This made me want to continue to Mazama.

Banana break time.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

North Cascades Highway

Being the northernmost pass over the mighty Cascade range and peaking in excess of 5000 feet, the North Cascades Highway closes every Fall and reopens each Spring due to snowfall and avalanche chutes running where the road is cut. When the DOT starts plowing the road in Spring, they keep the gates closed at both sides of the pass and plow up the road, leaving it clear of motorists up to where the crews have cleared.

The parking lot for the Ross Lake Trail, beyond which the gate closes the road to motorists.

At a certain point in the Spring, the legs have enough miles in them and the snow is cleared enough to begin contemplating longer alpine rides.  I've been doing some of the shorter steeper climbs around Seattle where I live, but climbing for more than 20 miles straight is another thing entirely.  The legs started to complain, but the only solution is to keep going and hope that the next time, they will be more accustomed to uphill efforts of this length.

Starting to get up to the snow line.

This is a beautiful and mostly steady climb.  On this spring day, the sun shone, yet it also never really stopped raining.  As I made my way up the grade, it was clear to see where the avalanche zones are located by the rock shaped pock marks in the road.

As I got higher, so did the snow and the views.

I've ridden this pass before, but with vehicular traffic, and it was quite amazing to ride without fears of getting buzzed by cars and RV's.

The end of the road.
I enjoyed riding this route sans autos so much that I checked in on Monday to see if there would be another spring weekend to ride it.  Sadly, the report was that the road would be open to all vehicular traffic again starting Thursday, May 8, but it was lucky for me that I got at least one car free ride up the North Cascades Pass in this year.