It may sound silly to reach the top of a hill and exultantly exclaim, “Both my legs worked!” But when I got to the top of the full Issaquah Highlands climb, I couldn’t restrain myself. I rode that climb nearly every week for months last summer, and I know keenly how it felt before my surgery. This week I apprehensively anticipated riding that climb: Could I even get up a hill that big, the condition I’m in now?
This ride answered that with a definitive YES. Riding up it with two fully functional legs, even though I have a lot of fitness to regain, gave me so much hope. I had joined the Cascade CHEW ride and finished that hill with a perfectly respectable finish in the middle of the pack. And that’s just a starting point.
The entire group ride left me feeling excited and optimistic about my biking future in a way I haven’t felt in such a long time. I’m not in great shape, but I had no trouble keeping up with the vigorous group. I’ve lost the sense of a ceiling holding me down, which I think adds to the magicalness of my leg working. It’s not just the physical; it’s the sense of hope for the future, of potential, instead of a grey and depressing prospect of fighting an inevitable downward slide.
Which is all good, because today barely 5 miles into my ride I foolishly rode through the deepest standing water I’ve seen in a long while, and spent the remaining 58 miles with Sammamish slough water sloshing around in my shoes. At least, until it had fully absorbed into my socks and booties, at which point I just carried an extra five pounds in water on each pedal stroke.
Incidentally, that proved to be only the first of several watery obstacles. After that first… let’s call it a learning experience… I opted to ride or walk around these pools. Calling them “puddles” does a grave injustice to puddles, since they were really just the Samammish slough exceeding its banks everywhere the trail dipped below the slough’s banks.
So that was my fun little personal run-in with the flooding Western Washington has experienced thanks to the phenomenal amounts of rain dumped on us over the last week. Of course, I also experienced the rain firsthand on my commutes. Today proved sunny with large but pretty (and apparently rainless) clouds, really a perfect day for a bike ride.
Here’s to the future!