Freedom

When you’re working two part-time jobs and studying classes full-time at the same time, you really don’t have a lot of time to ride. And that was my situation in 2004. To make matters worse, some of my Saturday co-workers had yet to fully develop their social skills. Yeah, it wasn’t a pleasant part-time job.

Of course I know that there are some times in your life where you just need to sacrifice the fun and exciting things for the dull and boring so that you can have more fun and exciting things in the years to come. That’s completely reasonable. But this particular semester was the bane of my college experience, the pit of loathe and misery, the worst of the worst of semesters. My classes were a drag, the college newspaper was a drag, I’d just gotten off of a fantastic internship with a regional newspaper, and I felt like I’d landed straight in the fireswamp of academia.

So what does a weekend warrior do when he’s not allowed to fight any battles? Sulk. And copy edit. I admit copyediting was pretty satisfying. Still is.

Finally, however, my "Saturday off" came up, and I decided I wanted to spend it right. I couldn’t find anyone to head out to the trails with me, so I decided it would be a good weekend to scout out the KOM section of Lotoja–see how tough this beast really is. I scanned the course map and finally found it at a place called Tin Cup Pass between Wayan, ID, and Freedom, ID. I loaded the car up and drove 2.5 hours to an hour-long ride.

When looking for parking in distant towns, I always simply find the branch of my church in the area and park there, it works great. So I pulled out the bike, and followed my yahoo.com-printed directions up the road from Freedom to Tin Cup Pass. It looked like I’d landed in the Garden of Eden with the lush, green valley around me and the babbling brook still playing the music of the spring runoff beside the road. I knew, according to the profile provided on the Lotoja web site, that I’d be climbing roughly 1,000 feet over only a few miles, but the climb really didn’t feel tough. My calves and thighs pumped out a rhythmic cadence, hauling my mt bike (did I mention this was pre-road bike?) up the climb at 18 mph. Wow.

For a moment, at the top, I just parked and took in the mellow hills around me. No jagged peaks to be seen from there, but a comfortable arrangement of Cache Valley walls filled their place. For a just a moment, I got to enjoy life above all the soup of that pit of despair we call day-to-day life. It was green, clear and free.

Then, of course, I rode down the other side and rode back up and discovered the real reason this was the KOM section for Lotoja. The wind was blowing from north to south, so I actually had to pedal–hard–on the descent back into the valley to Freedom. I could barely hold the same speed I’d had coming up. Tricky wind. Welcome back to life, I guess. But it was still gorgeous. And isn’t that the point?

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