That geographic immensity is hard to contain in the imagination so it remains an abstraction, a blurred assurance that on the ground it keeps going and so might you.
I’m delighted to have a small contribution in the 10th issue of Bicycle Traveler, an on-line international magazine on bicycle touring edited by Grace Johnson. You’ll find stories on Uzbekistan and the Sahara, as well as images of Somalia, China, Cameroon and many more. My piece is a short note from Belize that first appeared on this blog.
Download the current and past issues here.
The miles wind and snake and gritty crunch, achieving a clip and breeze until the balance tips and we can feel the sweat under our pack straps telling us that winter is someone else’s thoughts now.
Thread of dirt like the path of unusually ambitious and purposeful cows through brush, the Lime Kiln Trail. Push the bikes up to a sharp crag ridge, then a short fast drop and it’s dusty and snaking through rolling brush, mountains in the distance, a scene from a dozen Westerns and we open it up.
Endless traction sandstone, staircase drops through narrow canyon cuts, float across a wash, drift through mushy snowpatch. We’ll slalom switchbacks back and forth until the tap tap repetition is mantra.
That first day bright simple sunshine pedal into clay paths through palo verde and brush, distant orange rocks, upkick buck drift with my timing all off out of the turns and lofting the front wheel.
For a month riding has been wholly slow and just to be outside, an excuse for a long talk like a long walk where the bicycles fade, where we’re made into rolling with our joys and sadnesses.
There is the steep rocky Ruckman climb, body english for traction, point the bike between the ruts and round the slick fallen leaves. Everyone is leaping now, rhythm. Familiar wide dirt tracks, we stop for cakes and coffee and then off again northward to a long lovely stretch by the water through stands of blazing yellow.
A trail that is a half finished sculpture, the figure’s pose clear enough but all the cuts merely confident drafts, a roll over a tree bowl here, thread through fresh hack there, soft soil or sand trap.
Brought a small duffel of essentials and attached a Tangle, seat bag, top tube bag, and harness. Switched the bottle cage to a fork mount and borrowed another for the other side.
One handed, it’s apple season and I’m biting fresh sweet clean bitter like the air. We’re on a route around the 1930’s Quabbin reservoir in Western Massachusetts, water collected to serve distant Boston and the communities in between.
Heading to work usually a means and a transition, an empty something in between important things, but not this time.
Leaves and moss and sucking bogs and wind, the grey that cracks to sunshine and then the mosquitoes that figure 8 curve back and again on me, the tannic rivers and the suggestion if not reality of cold, ambient glow at 3am