Alongside the bike, pushing it. A continuous pour of water off my cap brim, chin angled down from effort and for warmth pressed hard against the zipper pull. There’s the danger that the lowered gaze and dragging gait is what sets the mood, that’s the real incline. Hours of this, stopped to kick off mud in disembodied quiet, resting standing because sitting is shivering, claw curl fingers into the body of the glove, make a fist to bring back feeling knowing that nothing will bring toes around. Only palm heels are against the grips, there might be bruises tomorrow from irregularly shaped shifter and brake clamps digging in. Every then and awhile notice a neck and between shoulder blade ache one octave below the one behind my right eyeball.

Or when I consumed all that I had left more than a day ago because I don’t save any for feared futures of want, hunger easily confused for nausea and desperation and admonition though it isn’t. Pedaling now at that naturally governed evaporated pace, none of the flight and freedom of cycling but instead a terrestrial open eyed sleep. Dizzy tunneling vision, ears ringing. A reckoning with the ending daylight, that there’s nothing to cook is a liberation from having to set up camp early enough to see, time gifted by cracked lips heart trill gnawing.

Or there was no flat just those damned tussocks on hilled ground, bulging uneven tent floor and I keep waking up from the wall leaning against my breath like I might suffocate, sliding on nylon, every dry piece of clothing on me and even the rain soaked gore tex jacket draped on the footbox of the bag because the seam above it leaks. Haven’t seen anyone for days. Or whorl kicked sand into my red rimmed eyes, or soul drained because a stranger let me down, stole something, was small or cruel or a liar and somehow I carried it in my bags and in the center of my chest. Or thirst that burns warning flares across the back of my throat, insult and insistence.

But misery at some point implodes from its own earnest gravity and the front wheel accelerates past the event horizon of “I don’t want to be here,” “why aren’t I just home,” “this is stupid and I hate it,” and I’m into the black hole glancing side to side at smeared streaks of light to realize that they are the joys that I went in after.