Sunflowers bloom in late summer, when the days are getting shorter and the air feels cooler than before, just enough to notice.
Sunflowers always remind me of driving through the Navajo reservation in northern Arizona, following slow red Ford pickups down the road, beer bottles propped on fenceposts, and turkey vultures swooping down on roadkill. I can see big fluffy white clouds in a huge blue sky over pine-dotted bluffs with the sun coming down at enough of an angle that it can't be mid-summer anymore. And the highway shoulder lined with tall sunflowers for miles.
August always feels like it's time for a road trip south. This time I'm going north.
Next weekend I'm running the Lean Horse Hundred, a 100 mile race that starts and finishes in Hot Springs, South Dakota and about 2/3 of the race is on the Mickelson Trail through the Black Hills.
The ponderosa pines of the Black Hills also remind me of northern Arizona, around Flagstaff, where I went to school. The smell of pine needles and the whoosh when the wind blows through the needles and small limbs, and the sunbaked smell of pine bark, like vanilla and caramel.
It's less than 5 hours to Hot Springs from here, it will be a good road trip to clear my head and get myself set for fall.
It's been a whirlwind, the past few weeks, and just this morning I finally stopped to think about the upcoming race and got my supplies together. Doug and Marji will be there to help me out. I'm looking forward to the long day and pacing myself carefully. I plan to go out slowly, slower than at the Keys, and if all goes well, to be able to use the mostly downhill second half to my advantage.
I'm looking forward to spending some time on my bike this fall and taking a break before I start preparing for Across the Years. I'm hoping to get up to the cabin and see some fall colors this year. As much as I love the hot weather, it always feels good to cool off.