The Little Engine That Couldn’t

The vortex* got me again. That’s what I call the pond at the foot of the climb up Mars Hill, my little twilight mountain biking area. I can feel its pull soon after I get off the Milton Road Miracle Mile. I get nearly as much of a rush speed-matching jeeps and pickups on that street as I got doing super-man stunts among the busses and taxis of 5th Ave NYC on rollerblades. I call it speed-matching because that makes my breakneck speeds seem discretionary rather than the last-ditch self-preservation efforts they are. About the time that rush wears off and my heart-rate falls below the 200 bpm mark, I am nearing the vortex by the pond. I can feel it as soon as I drop down into the cool hollow where the shade is. Sometimes I glance up and catch some blue sky through tree leaves. Other times I ride stolidly on, teeth gritted against the force of the vortex, because I really want to ride clear to the top of the ridge. Tonight I peeked at the sunset while nearing the pond, but quickly averted my eyes and tried to focus on the trail and think trail thoughts. After all, I was wearing my finest non-cotton biking gear—I had even left my lights at home to prompt me into riding fast. But it was already too late; I knew the vortex had me.

I wobbled at the intersection; to bypass the pond and ascend the ridge, or to detour over to the pond and then climb the ridge were the choices. The Pull went toward the pond and I went helplessly along, resolved to keep going past, never looking to the right or left side until I had crested the ridge. But this evening the pond was empty of fishermen—just the sunset, the heron at the edge of the bulrushes, and me. I couldn’t recall ever being past the pond when it was empty of people. I went past the empty benches beside the water—bike wobbled a bit—then past the little log cabin with the inviting front porch—wobbly again—but no dabs, I kept riding totally thinking pond thoughts and feeling guilty for them at the same time. I finally made it to the ridge trail and started on the climb, but my heart wasn’t in it. I decided to go back and get it at the pond, then changed my mind and kept riding uphill. Then I remembered the little loop trail that circled down to the pond ahead on my left. Against better knowledge, I took a left and was soon coasting gloriously downhill back toward the pond.

**So that’s my little, or maybe not so little, excuse for not doing the ridge tonight. The ridge trail is still there, but the sunset’s gone, and how often do I get to see the pond without people? Maybe tomorrow I’ll feel stronger—or wait, maybe I could do the ridge loop backwards and get the best of both vortexes. Now that’s a thought…

*If you actually go to one of the vortex sites, which is where the energy is strongest, it can be a very uplifting experience. The energy you take in at one of these energy centers can stay with you and affect you positively for days afterwards-John & Micki Baumann.