Friday, June 28, 2013

Tunnel Vision

Big Savage Tunnel. More than 3300 feet long. Dimly lit

The view once I got out of the tunnel

Not sure why they have doors but it does close down in the winter
I am back from my eight day adventure, a mix of seeing old friends, sight seeing, adventures, biking, camping, meeting new people. I am still trying to process it all and deal with practical issues such as wet camping supplies, starving hummingbirds (how hard would it be for a chemist to make a 25% sucrose solution, seriously) etc.

When I first got back on the interstate to make that sad trip home, Schubert's Wanderer's Fantasy came on the radio. What  apt music to describe my voyage especially the crashing crescendo towards the end. Picture me careening down a mountain side in pouring rain hoping that I didn't lose control of my bike, a rental bike whose model name, I kid you not, was The Fatty.

In the past, Mendelsohn's exuberant music showcased in Breaking Away came to mind as I crested hills and went racing down them but this was a much slower paced ride. I have ridden those same hills in Brown County, Indiana where the film was filmed. Not sure I would do that again unless I had the disc brakes that The Fatty provided. And as they say, the older I get, the better I was.

Other triumph of the spirit music: Elton John's Funeral for a Friend (Love lies Bleeding) came on shortly thereafter ( I am quite the channel surfer, one advantage of being alone). I remember being able to do a whole arb run extra fast to that. And my old favorite heard for the first time as a naive college freshman, Saint-Saens Organ Symphony now popularized by the pig that was able to display his sheep whispering skills thus avoiding his Christmas ham destiny. So many triumphs one could have! Yes dear Daughter of mine, the one who knows who Saint-Saens is, that was the work we were listening to on the way to the Side Track, only the boring early movements. What background music should we have for an overweight 60 year old cancer survivor hauling her body up those 2392 feet? Or for an acrophobe with balance issues (thanks chemo!) biking on the edge of a gorge going over trestles with 200 foot drop-offs?

Back to Tunnel Vision. One of the few useful tidbits of info given to us before the ride was that we should have some form of lighting for the three long tunnels we would be going through on the last day (just yesterday I was just starting the ride 24 hours ago!!!), one of which would be completely unlit. They were quite insistent on it. Other safety tips, not so much. My solutions: Hope the rental bike has one. (not the case) Hope the rider in front of me has one (no rider in front of me though the biker behind me shouted he had one but I was too lazy to stop and wait). Mount my iPhone with the flashlight app in the front mesh bag. The latter would have worked if it wasn't drizzling, though dry in the tunnel, but I was literally on a roll and didn't feel like stopping. What I stupidly figured is that because I could see the end of the tunnel, I would just head towards that and hope no obstacles were in the way. Imagine that your entire field of vision was entirely black except for a 1% white dot. I could detect no floor, sides or ceilings. I tried to focus on that increasing white dot but I was getting dizzy. Also it was a steep descent. Maybe I would have felt more grounded if I were pedaling uphill. I felt like I was floating in space. It was a very strange disconcerting feeling. We had gone through a 3320 foot tunnel earlier through Big Savage Mountain that had very tiny yellow lights in the ceiling, a lot were burnt out, that made it hard to see the ground. We emerged at the other end to see a stunning vista (pictures sometime to follow). Later we went through a shorter, somewhat lit tunnel that shared space with a train( with a warning not to enter if an incoming train was there). A rider had a nasty spill there. An ambulance made its way slowly up two miles of trails to get to him. In some areas, it would have been many more miles for rescue. We were clearly in the wilderness. What would have happened if one of those vipers I encountered (pictured on Facebook) decided to strike? Or if the bears that Soulmate had taped for me on  scenes from Cumberland made an appearance?

Ah so many experiences to be shared at a later time. Stay tuned!


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