“That’s weird, it’s like something out of that twilighty show about that zone” – Homer Simpson
For some odd reason my fat bike has been sitting in the garage all loaded up with bikepacking gear since my attempt at a multiday trip in the Eastern Sierra went up in a puff of fried alternator diodes a few weeks back. Even more odd, I grabbed that same bike last night for a little climb up one of the many “workout” rides that exist in the mountains of Orange County: Harding Truck Trail.
Harding is one of those rides that people love to hate. It’s a steady, roughly 9 mile climb up to a junction with the Main Divide trail that leads along the spine of the Santa Ana Mountains touching most of the minor summits. The truck trail sets a sinuous course along the flutes and ridges of the foothills as it rises from Modjeska Canyon, the grade lessening in only a few spots. It’s not generally a ride that’s called “fun” by most people as there’s nothing about it technical or interesting (beyond the scenery) but it’s a great workout, even more so on a loaded fat bike.
Although it might not be the most interesting ride, it did offer me the opportunity to look back on the OC coastal plain and spit in the general direction of the area where I spend most of my time toiling for “the man” (I work somewhere around that cluster of buildings poking through the haze). Not on anyone in particular, mind you, as I’m not a hater but merely a square peg in the corporate world’s round hole. Out on the horizon, a world away yet seemingly so close I could touch it, a cloudbank was pushing gently over Catalina Island. After pausing for a bit to admire the scene I continued moving upward.
I’d like to say I was in “the zone” and feeling comfortable on the climb, but the truth is I was really feeling the weight of the bike and all the gear. I was definitely fighting the hill. However, as the sun arced off toward Asia and the balance of day began to shift toward night my pace increased. Or maybe it was my mood? It was a beautiful night to be alive.
Twilight has many shades. My favorite is when the earth, suddenly unburdened by the force of light begins to glow and releases its energy back into the sky. If you’re lucky you can ride this wave upward. For a brief moment (if the light is right) your body can feed off this phenomenon and be sucked up into the vacuum of night. As the needle on this day’s fuel gauge nudged toward Empty, suddenly I was in tune with the flow and began to fly up the hill. Well, in relative terms of course as I’m a Clydesdale and this bike is more mule than racehorse, but my pace had noticeably quickened.
But only for a moment. Twilight quickly became night and the force of the upwelling current began to recede. Upon reaching the high point of the ride I turned around and rode with gravity back into darkness, mocked by the lights of the city beneath my feet.
Sure beats sitting on the couch watching TV.