Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Index Mountain, from alongside the peak.

And, Bellevue, from the sky:

The week, the weather, and the snow reminded me of one year ago:

That one aberrant sunny week in October, and I, determined to visit uncharted territory for yours truly, rented a car and headed north to Vancouver. I started pretty much downtown, and by the time I got there, it was raining hard, though not terribly cold in the city. There's a bit of an irony to me in using a car to go on a bike ride, but, it was worth it. I rolled gently through Stanley park, across Lion's Gate bridge, and then east, through the rain and the mist, to Dollarton. Deep cove, though, was really only a glance from the road as I searched for the road UP. I had higher places in mind for the day.

I turn back north to west, up Mount Seymour parkway, and rain becomes fog became cloud and swallows the rest of the world. Now there are no more homes, no more shops, no more anything but trees, road, and rain. Perhaps two forest service vehicles and three private cars pass me on the entire trip up, and I relax into the steady burn of a mountain climb. I zip up my jersey against the cold, now, about halfway up the mountain, and I briefly shiver as I try not to think about the temperature coming down! It's only ten in the morning, I think. It will warm up.

A curious bear wanders out from the shrouded trees just a bit ahead of me, and regards me with some curiosity. I slide on arm-warmers after he crosses the road, round another hairpin, and another. I have no sense of how far I have to go, I cannot see the top whatsoever. Only the kilometer flags beside the road, counting off the climb, give me some sense of my progress. My lungs agree with the cool, high air: each sharp, pair of breaths of cool air in is followed by a single exhalation, in-in-OUT,in-in-OUT, the indescribable euphoria amidst the pain, the flashes of beauty amidst the blur of clouds that become my vision.

At the roadside, clumps of dirty, half-melted snow gradually become a purer shade of white, the rain stops and becomes one or two flecks of snow on my glasses. A brief flicker of adrenaline, then, and in what seems simultaneously like forever and a moment, I round the final bend, pull up, exhausted, into the ski station parking lot, and examine the unpaved trail that leads up to the slopes. Perhaps another day.

The rest of the memory is a trance-like blur: the frigid descent, the shaking shoulders flinging the thumb-width of tire rubber side to side, numb fingers trying to keep the speed below eighty kilometers per hour, to give me some chance of stopping before each bend. The cruise back west, the sun breaking the clouds' hold at sea level, navigating the suburban north of Vancouver, riding along the shoulder of the 1 freeway and marvelling at NOT BEING THE ONLY ONE doing so. The climb up to Cypress Bowl, all yellow and bright and not nearly as gruelling as Seymour was, and rounding the corner to see Horseshoe Bay sparkling in the autumn evening as I pedal, more slowly now, along the undulations of Marine Drive, the seamless joints of exurbia -- Caufield, Sherman, Dundrave, Capilano, and at last, the bridge again.

The sun is descending as I become one of dozens of cyclists, joggers, roller-bladers within Stanley Park, the busy pedestrian traffic of West End buildings.

My main reaction at this point is a frustration at international labor laws. I mean, what a backyard.


  • At 10:48 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    You know...good stuff.

    An observances you wrote caught my attention especially:

    " what simultaneously seems like forever and a moment..." It's those "moments" that ring through all creation in the shape of our meager senses. I love those moments; they are to me, a glimpse of enternity.

    Cheers Arg, thanks for writing this down.


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