The Latah Trail
Back When the World Was Normal
If this were television, I'd put the little text box up in the corner that says, "Previously Recorded." As it is, I want you to know I wrote this short essay before lockdown, quarantine, isolation, coronavirus. I look forward to the day where a friend, or a group of friends and I might be able to ride together side-by-side on the Latah Trail--or any other trail or road or path or mountain or anywhere, for that matter. For now, though, it is quite enough to have this memory of making a new friend, having a good, very enjoyable and relaxing day out on my bike.
I'm Almost Done with My Ride
We met one spring morning when I was doing laps around the parking lot near the soccer fields off of Mountain View Road in Moscow, Idaho. I was nearly done with my ride already, but I was trying to increase my distance before going home so my weekly total would put me at least in the top three for mileage among members of the Latah Trail Foundation’s riding club on Strava. He rode up to me and asked if I could tell him how to get to the trail entrance just off of Highway 8. He’d tried to find it the day before to no avail. I was eager to get even more miles, and his was a friendly and needy face, so it looked like a win-win situation.
“Follow me,” I told him, and together we rode single file down Mountain View Road and out onto the trail, turned east and I began to give him a brief tour. I showed him the lane markings on Paradise Path that ended right where Latah Trail started, explaining that one piece of this was owned by the city, and the county maintained it after the point where those lines stopped. Before I knew it, we were halfway to Troy, cruising along and chatting away.
Shall We Race?
When we reached Summit, nestled among the pine trees and the beautiful, abrupt change of scenery, I started pedaling with my all, pushing ahead down the slope at top speed. “See you at the bottom!” I yelled, thinking we’d not chat again until we turned around at the end of the screaming descent into Troy City Park. Before long, I was breathing hard, my heart was pumping and I was for a moment a child again, freewheeling on my bike with wind whistling through my helmet, past my ears, neither care nor worry swift enough to stay with me and bog me down.
Don't Underestimate the Competition
Why, as an experienced cyclist who should know better, I was surprised when my new friend blew by me all toothy smile and one-handed wave, not breathing hard or seemingly working hard at all, I do not know. We all fall into that trap from time to time, I guess. But as he turned to front and started pulling further and further away, I rose from the saddle and took the bait...and never saw his face again until I reached the park at bottom. There he was standing, facing west, straddling his bike’s top tube, resting and drinking from his water bottle.
“That was awesome!” he told me through a broad grin. I just smiled because I didn’t have enough breath to speak.
“Next time,” I finally said after some seconds of recovery, “I’ll take you across the highway and down into Bear Creek Canyon. From my perspective, it’s even prettier down there.”
He agreed we needed to do it again soon, and we then started up the hill, rejoining the trail and heading west, back toward Moscow.