Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Junk miles are the best miles

So, today was another of those utterly perfect fall mornings. The early cloud cover burned off around 9am, and the sun warmed things up enough to be comfortable, but still cool enough to make riding hard a pleasant experience. I skipped out of work for an hour, and took the Sekai down my new favorite out and back, Soos Creek.

Soos Creek is a five mile stretch of wetlands that are protected (and in any case, worthless for development) with a creek, of sorts, running along the center of it. A paved trail runs beside the creek, winding past head-high blackberry bushes and stretches of green, still water. There's a nice mix of wide-open blue sky cruising and dark, shaded forest. On a clear day Rainier towers in the distance, wisps of cloud trailing from the snow-covered summit.

It's a nice, easy 16 miles, and I like the diversity of people that I encounter on the trail. Perhaps three quarters of them are walking their dogs, but the rest are there for exercise - or, I suppose, the fresh air. Today there was an interesting assortment of calorie burning activities going on. There was the white-haired guy in a turban doing unrecognizable movements and stretches in different places in the trail each time I whizzed by. There was the usual assortment of non-serious cyclists on various and sundry mountain bikes, all with knobbies. I like these people. They acknowledge my existence, unlike the serious cyclists, who stare intently ahead of them as they spin by, as if simply looking at my unclean presence might somehow taint the purity of their cycling experience. I even got a wave today from another cyclist. Little did he know that by making this gesture he was demonstrating how completely unseriously he was taking his cycling.

It was wonderful.

Then there was the older guy jogging with some younger guy who could clearly stand to lose a few pounds. Like, a hundred pounds or so (I say this with the full realization that I am currently carrying an extra 25 pounds of fat). On the one hand, it's cool to see people taking an interest in not becoming a statistic in the current obesity epidemic. On the other hand, I'm concerned about their choice of activity. Running definitely works as a weight loss strategy for some people, but for many it's an unnatural and painful experience that sours them on exercise in general. Even just looking at people running brings back powerful memories, mostly involving fierce pain, a metallic taste in the back of my mouth, and panted mantras of sometimes profane motivational poetry. Climbing is painful. Descending is painful. Of course, the runners that do well thrive on this eternal wellspring of pain.

I'm not one of those people. For me, cycling is wonderful because it doesn't have to hurt. Thus my motto: All junk miles. All the time.

No comments: