It’s funny how when I camp, I immediately get tuned in to nature. This morning I awoke in the cold pre-dawn, knowing that sunrise was not far away. The sky is always a cold steel color, not dark, but not quite light, and it is silent just before the birds begin to sing. Lying there, I suddenly heard a high, distant wild barking that could only belong to a wild animal, probably a wolf. I listened in the silence, then heard it again, farther away. I rolled over in the relative comfort of my “nest” inside my sleeping bag. I was warm, drifting in purple semi-consciousness, then fell back into the depths of sleep.
I awoke again a couple of hours later, but this time the tent was warm from the sunlight that fell on it, and I dressed quickly. After I crawled out, my riding partner and I walked over to the dining hall, expecting to find coffee brewing, but alas, none was ready. There was water, though, and we know enough to bring instant coffee, so that saved the day. We settled down with a banana and a doughnut that we’d gotten from the local Circle K the night before, and then went back to the campsite to pack everything up.
Since he’d brought his car, I asked Hal if I could put my bags in his car instead of packing them on the bike. It would give me the opportunity to “ride free” on the way home, and he kindly agreed. I again geared up in several layers, including my heated jacket liner. As we got going, me in front on the bike, the temperature was in the 50s F. and I was glad of all the gear.
It was worth every moment of the weekend to descend from the Rim, swooping through the turns from Woods Canyon Lake down past Christopher Creek. A guy on an old BMW “airhead” stayed behind me, and I think he was enjoying following me through the turns. It was a glorious feeling, the bike light and responsive in my hands, all I had to do was “think” it through the turns, I felt weightless and free. It was a feeling I’ve been missing lately.
In Payson I fueled up, and took gear off, down to the liner in my mesh jacket. I needed that until I reached Sunflower, where I pulled over for a moment to get that out. Then I resumed my descent through those wonderful turns that I often mention because of how perfectly engineered they are.
The Beeline, under construction south of Sunflower since Labor Day last year, is now open, and those turns have been widened and opened up as well. It was fun to finally ride through the new improved “Rock Garden” turns, then settle down as the road flattened out 16 miles out of Fountain Hills.
After lunch at a favorite restaurant, I finally made it home. It felt amazing to be so warm after freezing over the last few days. I rode into the garage early afternoon, tired but relaxed.
The rest of the day I unpacked, did laundry, and organized things in readiness for my next trip, which I hope will be soon. It’s nice to be gone, but it’s nice to be home, too!