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Friday, June 07, 2002

Tiger Mountain


Put your mountain bike on or in your car. Stop by the Starbucks at the gas station on the way to I-90 east. As you cross the floating bridge across Lake Washington be thankful yet again that you don’t live in the suburbs—traffic over here is terrible. Be thankful that you’re going the opposite way. It doesn’t look like it will rain but you wish that you would have brought along one of those expensive high-tech sweaters. Roll open the sun roof and turn up the heat.

You are again astonished by the close proximity to Seattle of vast expanses of wilderness while still able to keep NPR station tuned on your shitty car radio. Lots of clouds, but snow-capped peaks of the Cascades visible in front of you. Take exit #25 to route 18, take a right when you get off the ramp, and proceed four miles to Tiger Mountain Summit. Turn off route 18 and pull into the parking lot.

As you get ready, talk to some guys who have just finished the ride. Not sure where they are from so speak to them in the Esperanto of knuckle-head dudes: Mariners baseball news. Topic: Do ya think Ichiro can bat .400 for the season? No need to ask them how the ride went because they are standing next to two very expensive mud sculptures of mountain bikes. Thank god for remembering to bring fenders.

Mid-week and ominous-looking weather gives you the mountain to yourself. Stupidly decide to opt for the trail up the mountain instead of the usual route of the fire road up and then the trail down. Two hundred yards in wonder if it is too late to go back and take fire road. Holy shit, you don’t remember this trail being such a ball buster. When not terrified of imminent death, comment to yourself on the beauty of this forest. The trail is dark beneath lots of big cedars, spruce, and ferns.

Think up idea for the Pocket Homer. This would be a small device attached to handlebars like a horn but the Pocket Homer emits two sounds: Homer’s “AAAAHHHH!” which he screams often but most notably at show’s opening when wife nearly runs him over with car. Other sound is Homer’s trademark “Woohoo.” These two sounds describe the two emotions, terror and joy, that are prevalent on this trail.

After lots of pushing bike up steep-as-hell ruts make it to the top of the mountain. Go down another trail. Stop at the lip of a four foot drop that falls down a steep slope. At the bottom, look for dead bikers (good place for spare parts). No casualties found, continue down the trail. Note that Pocket Homer battery would probably be dead by now from repeated “AAAHHHH’s” and “Woohoo’s.”

Notice cute coyote on the trail ahead and wonder if there are enough road runners in Washington to sustain coyote population. Thank countless hours viewing cartoons as a kid for knowledge of wildlife. Coyote scared shitless as crazed biker (you), with mud-caked brakes not working well, barreling down the trail directly towards this member of the wolf family. Apologize for this breach of mountain biker-coyote etiquette.

Back in the parking, lot hang expensive mud sculpture of mountain bike on car rack. Drive back to Seattle while listening to crappy car radio--program about TMBG concert film playing at the Seattle Film Festival. Before going home, stop at car wash and erase mud sculpture to reveal mountain bike. Washing body covered with mud has to wait until you get home and get in the shower. After shower, ride other bike to Cyclops bar for refreshing mojito.

muddle mint and 1/2 lime in a pint glass with ice. Add white rum, a bit of simple syrup, and splash of sour. Rinse and repeat.

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