I was standing over the top tube of my Bridgestone, pondering the disturbing facts at the base of the Immortal Tree1. Chris came rolling up with this odd clinking coming from his rear wheel. It took just a little investigation that he had broken another spoke (the first being just a few days previous, and cost us a day of travel while I ran around Crescent City looking for a bike shop that was open and could fix the damn wheel). I wrestled with the wheel for half an hour or so, until I realized that like the last broken spoke, I'd need a freewheel tool to get the spoke in place. I tweaked the wheel into a vague sort of truth and we got on the road, slowly.
It was sort of a long day anyway, and so it started to get a little late. We were on the Avenue of the Giants, a spur off of Highway 101 that winds through a old growth redwood forest. In the daytime, the trees are amazing -- massive living things, older than one can comfortably conceptualize, lording over an area that seems to be quieter than younger forests.
In the dusk, they become something different. Instead of seeming huge, they become "normal", and two humans rolling through on bicycles become the aliens. I felt like a rat scurrying under the legs of dinosaurs. The forest filled with a mist, turned gray-green, and seemed to slide back to the Jurassic. It was erie, scary, amazing, humbling, exhilirating....
If you ever ride through the redwoods, do it at dusk. It's worth a broken spoke.
1:"This tree survived: The flood of ... A lightning strike ... The fire of ... A woodcutter's axe.... If it were cut down, it would produce ... board feet of wood, enough to build several homes!" Why is it disturbing to me to extoll the tree's longevity then talk about what we could get out of it if we chopped it down tomorrow?