Thursday, October 06, 2011

An Annual Pilgrimage

All during the Fall, I watch and wait. To see just when the time will be right, to not miss the best colors. I have done this for years, and since it was so nice yesterday, I took a chance that the day would prove to be what I was hoping.

A reminder of the days when I was just getting into off road cycling.

Morning Light
I took off right after I dropped my kids off for school. As I wended my way through the neighborhood, I noticed the calm and the golden haze coming down, filtered through green, gold, and orange leaves. As I approached the highway, the blat of a motorcycle profaned the balance of peace.

At least he was smiling, I thought, as I heard him fade into the distance. I bumped up over a median, onto a grassy dike, and down into the single track, leaving the people hustling to get to work and school behind me.

The Green Belt is a flat, winding, wild, and ever changing strip of land along the Black Hawk Creek that was set up to be a bridle path back in the 1950's. I discovered it some 30 years later as a well beaten in single track through the woods where I would walk often just to get away from everything and every body. The 80's were a time of drought here, and one could have gained the false assumption that the Green Belt would never change, and in fact, it probably hadn't for the most part for most of that time. I could count on seeing the same things from year to year back then.

Saluting the Flag
That isn't so any more these days. In fact, you never know what you might find now. A heavy rain will flood the Green Belt now easily, and sand, flotsam, and jetsam can be moved in, or swept away in a matter of days. Sand bars appear, then get beaten down by traffic, and maybe disappear in the next flood.

I was on the new tester, the Milwaukee Bicycle Company 29"er, and the bike was a perfect choice for the twig littered trail. Some of the trail was the old, troughed out bits that had been there forever. Some of it new, as in pretty much brand new, and some of it older re-routes around trees that fell years ago now.

That's another thing that happens more often now. Trees fall down, branches break off, and both block the trail here and there. The rot, wind, water, and riotous, unchecked nature of the Green Belt lends itself to tree carnage like this.

Back in the day when I got my first mountain bike, the trees behaved themselves. There rarely was ever a downed tree, or larger branch. Twigs and small branches would fall after windstorms, but that was the only time. As I bounded over branches and made my way around the bigger stuff, I was reminded of that teal green Sycamore I used to have.

Colors Of The Season
I bought it at a shop called Bombay Bicycle Shop. The proprietor put up with several visits from me before I coughed up my $340.00 to buy the Mongoose. I always regretted not buying the custom build hot pink number he had in the window back then, but it was about $300.00 more. Oh well, that Mongoose and I had some great rides in the Green Belt, and one day, I saw what I called "The View".

It was a big field of grass back then. Probably just recently retired from  farming. The back three sides of the field were lined with tall, gnarled oaks and big maples. The colors that year were awesome. So impressive that I made a pilgrimage the next year, and the next, and the next to see it again.

Of course, I missed a year here or there, but for the most part, I've made it every year otherwise. A way of remembering my roots and seeing the scenery of the Green Belt in the height of its glory.


mw said...

it pretty much rains leaves on my street this time of year.

Rich said...

I miss the old Bombay shop....seems like that would be fun to own....if we cash were no issue. I have a Goridanna(sp?) that was awesome from there, lugged rigid and dx...nice paint....Bill was a good guy.