Tremble frigid, but thinking it in unfluid blocks stumbles far short of the cutting, the blades in your lungs, the warning away pain and strain in moving such that a warm pocket in your clothes might bellows inhale the cold. Exit the car when there is enough activity to confirm ten minutes to go, now at the start line with skiers and fidgety runners, distracted distraction joke with Parsons and Jill and Aedmo, but a little closed the way it always is before a race, even one that you didn’t conceptualize as it but instead as something perpendicular with a built in urgency.
Then there’s the last hug from the one who got you there, not just there then but where and here and now in its completeness so very high up, atmospheric inversion for eight nine ten seconds, emotion replaces physiology, you touch a voice that will be in tonality and hue for the hours until the finish line when it will return fully again like waking up.
That sensation, even if only pain, is coming back to fingertips insists that I’m climbing, skiers that I’ll see loathe later when I’m pushing yield to a quick three alarm off camber trail edge pass. Revolutions into the future minutes, they don’t bother though the interference from spatiality does.
Soft snow concentrating for traction, touch on this blown powder long gone, I’ve done, what?, two winter rides in the last two years?, but didn’t think didn’t wish technique would elude me so thoroughly. Correct pressure, posture, cadence, grip, lean, all splashing question marks. On my ass again yelling at the powder myself the Pugs the trees. Walking post holing. In a hiking contest then can’t get enough optical resolution to see the textures before me. Blowing flakes across I give up I keep going. Slide on ice, hip and elbow drill bits dulling against the milky iridescent blue. My stream in conscious intentional and I can’t let go no matter how much the want doesn’t want itself.
Four or six hours ago, did I drift into blue shadows?, there were landscapes the beauty! where am I! wishing to compose photographs or poetry, instead I’ve been in a civil debate or negotiation with ambition for awhile. I shrug I snap back I say the truth I tell a dozen lies I think the best and the worst I exhale it away I still can’t loosen my grip or its grip on me. Funny how the race got so far away ahead during the discussion. My bare hands are sweaty inside the pogies.
Peanut butter in tortillas, chocolate, dried papaya, hammer gel that I planned to not pair with perpetuem so I wouldn’t mistake this for preparation, trying to fool the shards, Pringles, raisins, why the fuck, are you kidding me, am I out of Starburst?
Checkpoint, say someone’s name and number. If I go in might stand there a second so don’t. Kick clip back in, fishtail away into half a sky bright blue half grey hard menace.
For the first time I feel a hint of it welling up, I taste propane in my throat, the frustration of sideways again, now off the bike having misjudged the edge of the soft spot off the compacted but still churning center so swimming thrashing scooping myself up. I do nothing, I don’t focus on it but know it’s there, everyone who politely passed me, was it everyone?
There are the matches, that was daft to leave them in plain sight like that, I keep not reaching for them, it’s far too late to come out of this thermia. The person I’ve been arguing with, yes, it got a little sharp at times and we resolutely don’t apologize to one another, he’s holding one poised next to the friction paper with a raised eyebrow. I shake my head as I see the flash and the hissing flame is tossed into my gasping mouth.
All the emotions, excepting accepting all of them, you’ll have to Phoenix them together later. I combust implode into anger.
Sixteenth hour of having been. I know all the places where I’m broken so I don’t look there, turn turn darkness absolute zero gone for a good span now.
Last descent, light and line and there, I stop and hold was held.
Many thanks to the organizers for a terrific, beautiful, and impeccably run event.