Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mile 6,901: ... and back again

Dorothy's return from Oz had to have been quite an adjustment. One day you're battling flying monkeys and an evil green woman you defeated with a pail of water, and the next day you are carrying the pail out to the barn to milk the cows. It takes a certain amount of intellectual flexibility to make that big a jump.

This morning as I rode to work, I passed the usual smells of garlic, seafood, and onions wafting out of the dining establishments on my route. The yellow brick road has morphed back into daily asphalt and people in their cages rushing to work ten minutes late. It is a far cry from a path called "7" in Colorado.

A little over two weeks ago I had just finished my Iron Butt in Castle Rock, Colorado, but still had a couple of hundred miles to go into Estes Park where the first leg of my vacation began. I stood there in the gas station parking lot drinking a much needed bottle of water, but actually looking forward to getting back on the bike. Some of us just cannot get enough.

I pushed my way through Denver, just another busy road in another busy city. As much as I love Colorado, a city is a city. But after breaking through to the other side, with the mountains in the west calling me to come play, I stopped for a quick lunch in Frederick near the Harley dealership. Because after all, when you have been on the road for 1200 miles in 27 hours, the first thing that comes to mind is to go look at motorcycles. It's a quirk I have just learned to embrace.

Back onto I-25 for a few minutes, but now for the western cut-across to Lyons on 66.

Mountains staring you in the face. Cloudy day. Air beginning to cool. A little private lake at the base of the mountain you're about to climb, a harbinger of beauty to come.

My original intent was to wind my way up 36 straight into Estes Park. But with the severe flooding last year, 36 was closed. Great. Now what?

The friendly sign read, "Detour 7." Good enough. Let's go get lost and see what we can see.

When Dorothy's house landed on the water-susceptible witch's sister at the entry to the yellow brick road, little did she know that her detour would become the most memorable road of her life. And while your faithful author will gladly admit that his comparison to Dorothy is both overstated and ridiculous, there is at least a hint of truth when I tell you that the detour up 7 became one of my favorite rides ever. (I told you I would say that a lot in these post-journey essays.)

A thin, two-lane, twisty road beside a white river flowing down through the canyon. A motorcycle that I swear I sensed was smiling as we went against the current on our way up. A couple of stops for pictures.
On one of the stops you put on your rain jacket. It's only sprinkling, but clouds and no sunshine at 7,000 feet welcomes the warmth and comfort.

You get a little lost going through town, stop at the visitor's center just outside Rocky Mountain National Park, get your bearings, and head to the house where the family will stay for the week.

And you know that home is waiting somewhere back where there are cows to milk and porches to sweep. You know it will be a "There and Back Again" journey. They all are. Just depends on how willing you are to be gone, and then come back to the place you know is like no other place.

So we create. And we know that many days are filled with routines, like riding to work through clouds of garlic, and cagers who won't put down their phones no matter how much we beg and plead.

But the detours through Oz remind us how wonderful moments like this can be. Sitting in an office grateful for the day. Images of your bike up on the mountain. And images of your bike in its everyday parking space just outside your window.

One is greater than the other.

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