Hey, Just Ride 32

Fat knobbies crunch the sun-baked gravel to the rhythm of my gasps for air, the beat set by my elevated heart-rate that I can feel pounding in my temples covered by a river of sweat.

I round the bend as the steep grade levels off and I turn breathlessly to soak in my favorite local view for the first time this spring.

We moved to Dallas — no, not The Dalles — Oregon seven years ago this month.

Shortly after that I found this nearby logging road with a closed gate. Just as I rolled around the gate another cyclist finished his descent.

How far does this go? I asked.

About four miles to the top, he replied.

We measure time by sunrises, sunsets and cellphones while Mother Nature marks its passage simply by growth.

I don’t own a cycling computer so I don’t log miles. I’ve taken his word for it ever since that day, when I first hammered up the climb, rounded that curve and looked back down at Dallas and the rest of the valley gazing over the tops of knee-high saplings on this replanted hillside.

Those trees have grown, and so to have I.

I came to understand and actually appreciate Oregon’s reliance on these vast forests for both utter peace and joy as well as economic stability.

A hefty chunk — more than 50 percent — of Oregon is public land. There’s a good chance that beautiful deck you sit on while sipping your post-ride beer came from Oregon forests, as well as the sturdy frame of your house.

Logging trucks whiz past on every highway, carting trees that can range from 100 to 600 years old and beyond. Trees that were knee-high when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, and eventually obscured a breath-taking view before surrendering again.

The first time I saw wildfire devastation, rolling through the Taylor Burn near Waldo Lake, the massive scope rendered me speechless.

That pales in comparison to the first time I visited a favorite area after a fire. The east side of Scenic Highway 242 burned a few years back. My sadness so deep as if I’d lost a close friend.

I’ll never become immune to the changes, but simply accept them as a reminder not to take anything in nature for granted.

No, it’s not my nature to take anything for granted, mine is to roll on and search for my next favorite view to savor for however long I can.

Time to ride

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