There are a thousand thousand places like this place; dirt meets asphalt where one road meets another; one road ending and another beginning. There are also a thousand thousand moments like this one- a junction is reached and decisions have to be made. The destination may be the same but the journeys are wildly different. But this was my road, my moment and my journey- the sun hung lazy in the western half of the sky and across the pasture and meadows the road was visible a mile in each direction. To give myself a moment to ponder, the bike is switched off and leaned carefully on the soft shoulder. Helmet off and sunglasses the smell of the spring bloom is vaguely narcotic- a person could stay in this place forever… but sadly this day has a schedule that cannot be broken- I am on my way to work. Now in Italy all roads may lead to Rome, but here in Klickitat County all roads lead to The Dalles Bridge one way or another; for me this is a good thing as that is exactly where work is for me these days. The paths are clear- either the Centerville Hwy and its twisting tarmac to Lyle and thence The Bridge, or Euker Road to Dalles Mountain- up over the great camel hump in front of me and winding down the other side. There are other less obvious choices- one could I suppose take a left on Centerville Highway and head to The Maryhill Bridge and slab down 84- but what would be the fun in that? Or one could take O’Brian Rd straight up the face of Dalles Mountain. O’Brian is little more than a graveled stream bed with a two signs, one at each end saying “primitive road- no warning signs next two and a half miles” having taken that road in a friend’s 4wd truck I am aware that it is a long hard two and one half miles. Although tempting on my recently Adventured-TDM, in my mind it is clear that while the bike may be up to the challenge the rider is not; although I may have a hundred thousand miles on two wheels they are primarily paved miles- on gravel and dirt I have exactly four miles. My learning curve is set back a good ninety-nine thousand nine hundred miles and the seasoned rider has become the novice. This thought makes the tarmac tempting- while my modifications have changed the bike we essentially know one another well on pavement, whereas after the last short hop on dirt (the aforementioned four miles) we are still essentially in first date status: we are unsure off each other, that unsure feeling translating to hesitancy and a bit of wandering across the road. The date vibes are good- she handles the dirt better than I had hoped but there are a lot of new skills to be learned- how to sit to keep the bike stable, to handle the think gravel that causes the bike to bog and front wheel to wander and navigating the washed out sections where the talcum like dirt offers little purchase. Although stubborn enough to persist in continuing my education in dirt, I am old enough not to be stupid. So mounting up the bike points left past O’Brian Rd whose initial ease taunts me, trying to lull me in. But the thing is once you know a road you can see past that first curve to the meat of the matter. A few more miles I turn Right and quickly leave the pavement behind for Dallas Mountain. Ahead one last challenge awaits- my nemesis who I have named Archie. More on that later.