Those next days headed toward Sjeverni National Park, startlingly dry, a concrete impacted heat, leaves us heaving into noons. Well above the sea and the E65, we don’t see anyone for twenty hours. As if we’re pedaling against a static painting, pebbly grit, haze chalk green.
Pinball bounding bouncing rock to rock and from the edge of your vision you can see see where the stone fences have collapsed to haphazard return to the track. Snapping twigs and leaf shush, our arms raked by thorns. Heat concentrated into a clearing, dive past the perimeter again.
In a month we find no singular place that is Cuba, instead fractal shards where every deeper shape contradicts the emergent ones. It astonishes us every day, we’re breathless in its self aware narrative.
Our route has been a broken meander on the smallest back lanes, cow paths, stony clusterfucked hike-a-bikes, with a dose of wading and lifting sweat skin biting fly swatting. Naturally, we’re having a splendid, demented time.
The identity of this place is that it is nowhere, towns that we will inertia through when we need to, but the network of agricultural tracks horizons into midmorning heat and we don’t have to intersect anything else.
In the thick experience of movement and days, in the backroads dust and the chest pressing heat, in the hundred laughter cheek kiss embrace conversations we have, it’s there that the void gets filled, making me ride grinning at how close it was.
Green Mountain Gravel Growler: Logan, Daniel, and I scouted an incredible bikepacking route linking together some of Vermont’s best craft breweries. Follow the link to Bikepacking.com for details.
Not wanting or wishing or chasing something else. I’m in stationary timestopped movement liberated from hoping for a better view or a softer light or a more ragged horizon. Kyrgyzstan is stasis that I know isn’t permanent but that I can at least be present in heat and contentment.
I don’t care about the equipment, I just want it to be perfect.
I think that span, the morning snow, the frustrations of the mud slog up and past the high point, the clacking rollercoaster descent and then whooosh, silence of our big tires on green carpet doubletrack for days; I think that span snapped and adhered this place to us so here’s where we never want to have missed or ended.
Mountains and steppe, high meadow yurt camps, Silk Roads and the history of Soviet presence, Islam and horsemen and crashing cold rivers. None of the confirmed superlatives will match our wide eyed slow heartbeat wonder.
Altitude makes it so that you only have one burst for a rockpile or for a steep bit, legs twang tense up hard spin and the bike lifts but then the delicate state of your breathing spiral lofts into a wobble in an unstable trough and it’s all you can do to keep going forward.