In the absence of real darkness, the long summer days continually beckon us and pacing is critical. Having had weeks on the treadmill of fun, I feel a need for a refresher course in keyboard skills.

We have been busy. Way too busy. . .but in a good way. We have managed to summit the mountains titled: Caribou, Tally Ho, Anderson, Mount Lorne, and Perkins. We aborted an attempt on Red Ridge when we were driven back by legions of mosquitoes.

Then there were the two three-day music festivals and accompanying dancing. At the Atlin Music Festival a new energy source was revealed in the music of Vancouver-based band Delhi 2 Dublin <>. Don’t even try to resist your body’s urge to move and dance.

Canoeing excursions have resulted in battling headwinds on the Yukon River, discovering a lovely skinny dipping point on Annie Lake and successfully navigating the Takhini River rapids called “ The Jaws of Death.” And we managed to concentrate on the path of continual whitewater for over two hours while descending a section of the Wheaton River.

Cycling has been minimal but we did get out on our road bikes and have explored more trails on our mountain bikes.

Yesterday I came in second in the first ever, Wicked Bluff Trail Mountain Bike Race. Really.

I loaded up a mid-size backpack with a folding saw, a long handled lopping shears, a can of bear spray and a bottle of water and waved goodbye to Nancy as I pedaled my old black and mostly muddy, bike away from the Outpost. Unable to participate, Nancy is wearing a neoprene knee brace. Nearly a week ago she had twisted her knee after stepping on a loose boulder and falling during a hike last week in the high country near Fraser Lake in British Columbia. She is patiently playing patient at home dining on occasional Ibuprofen while her propped leg balances an ice pack.

My intent was to warm up by pedaling the race course in reverse to check out the dips, drops, edges, tree roots and tight turns. I stopped periodically to saw dead lodgepole pines that fallen across the race trail during the past couple months. Using the lopping shears, I removed eye-and-head-threatening. On parts of the trail I wished I had a stowed a shovel to fill in the multitude of holes. My bike is of a vintage that predates newer models that come equipped with disc brakes and shock absorbing front forks or seat posts.

By the time I got to the race start, I had cut and cleared eight trees out of the way. I never did see the other contestants as we started in staggered starts.

I carefully packed the trail clearing tools, tightened the backpack waist belt and snugged up the chinstrap on my helmet. Taking a big swallow of water, I mentally pedaled the racecourse, remembering various obstacles and tricky sections. Drawing in a deep breath, I took off down the trail.

I swear the wind blowing through the tops of the pines sounded like ecstatic spectators.

With the bear spray buried deep in the bowels of my pack, I chose to provide a fairly loud commentary of my race progress. I figured that my loquacious nature might make any bears aware of my racing down the trail.

A friend had a close encounter with a large grizzly bear on this very trail system. She simply stopped her bike, twenty feet from the bear, had a few quiet words with it and it walked away.

Like the thirty-seven-year-old road cycing legend, Lance Armstrong, I wanted to show the world that a fifty-eight-year-old boy still has the legs and the drive. In going for a chance to step up on the podium, I did not want to stop for anything so I managed to find loud superlatives in my race strategy and bike handling.

“Look at the line Anderson has chosen on this tricky descent! He seems totally oblivious to the drop off on his right and the raking shrubs on his left!”

All was going well and I knew I was ahead of the pace of the racer who was holding the lead position. I knew he would be very tough to beat, as the twenty-two-year-old thick-thighed stud had not lost a race all spring and summer.

A second before I crashed I knew I was going to crash. I was weaving through a section of young lodgepole pine, no thicker than my slender arms. The trail slalomed in tight turns and it was the top of the lopping shears, projecting out of the top of my pack that hooked one of the pine trunks. It was as if the rooted tree simply grabbed the back of my collar and said, “That’s far enough Champ!” The momentum of the bike sprang forward and I was spun to the ground. My commentary was cut. The unseen crowd of horrified spectators watched in silence.

Believe it or not I managed a silly smile as I sat in the thankfully soft pine needle duff. I got to my feet, made a slight adjustment to the skewed pack and swung back into my seat. The crowd cheered with the same intensity as they did when Lance got up and went on to win a memorable Pyrenees Mountain stage of the 2003 Tour de France after he crashed. Like Armstrong, I was back in the race.

I had lost some valuable time and found myself taking some very tight corners, turning my shoulders to twist by trees, not unlike a skier negotiating each gate on a giant slalom course.

With the most treacherous part of the course behind me, I sped up my pedaling revolutions. My thighs burned and the commentary was absent as I had to efficiently use the fuel of oxygen reaching my lungs. Leaning downward into the finish I knew I had not won the race. Six seconds separated me from the guy with oaken thighs.

Catching my breath, I pedaled more slowly home. “There will be another day young man.”

With a squiggle of blood tapering down my leg, I put the bike in the shed and made my way to the awards podium. Today the podium was in a small pool behind a large boulder in the rapids of the Watson River. I shed my sweaty clothes and slipped into the caressing stream. The brisk water was pure bliss and the shot of Yukon Jack and lime juice over ice helped etch my smile to a greater span.

And the crowd went wild. Another task turned into play.

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