Pack up camp. From wind frigid desert moonwash night to it’s already heating through the morning and glad to let my hands and forearms burn a little distance away from the North East’s winter. We float and fishtail in sand, but the fat bikes are made for this, even high speed descents into pools of soft sliding granular ruts. Wouldn’t say that we make good time—it’s too lovely out for that. We reach the GPS marker for the spring, lean the bikes against bare rock, down climb to the just over toes deep water course to fill our bottles. We nohurry some more, marvel at the skying walls, then off again.
Dewey Bridge—a 1916 landmark, the longest suspension bridge in Utah for 92 years with its wooden deck and two steel towers, added to the National Register of Historic Places in the 1980’s, restored by 2000. And then accidentally set fire in 2008. Accidentally, a strange word in this context, but the meaning is that the child evidently intended to burn things other than a famous bridge. We eat a quick lunch leaning against the campground fence, watching Jeep pilots air down their tires. Logan’s inspecting a trail map and regaling us with tales of the unrelenting climbing to come. We eyeball a spot where it descends to a valley where we might camp, set off churning upward.
Dry, drifting, desert silent: there’s not too little to concentrate on, there’s too much and that’s the perfection of it. Keep cranks turning over, the tiny adjustments for traction, color, callouses on the grips, sky and breath. The voice that tries to categorize and recursively label labels, it gets boiled away with our sweat so we’re just the bent bodies over bicycles, just the tension ache wash of sting in our legs during the steepest pitches, just the sharp jab between shoulders lofting over rocks that drops off as precipitously as it came.
Joel lifts his pace until we can’t see him around the bends. He later says he got angry, doesn’t say much more about it but I feel like I know what he means, anger that the track always asks for more and that our lungs sear and that when we hear the impersonal forces of this body and this landscape collide there isn’t a reasoned confrontation so much as an imposed equilibrium like drouth meets a squall. He confesses, too, that it went away, another gift of a ride like this.
We do reach the descent into the valley, though not before nodding to the occupants of each of dozens of jeeps tumbling along on their impossible negotiation of ledges and cracks. Funny how other cyclists ask about the fat tires, though it’s not really asking it’s more a critical skeptical judgement veiled as how do you like those? they’re not listening to the answer, whereas the Oakley spec ballcap black t-shirt crowd behind the wheel immediately and completely get it, yeah, air down, good grip high torque control unstoppable, nodding.
A clearing lined by minivan sized rocks and a conical bulge topped by a single tree, canyon walls to our back and a swelling scrubby plain ahead, lay out our bedrolls again. The boys snack in the end of the day sun up on the flat surfaces like lizards until the moon takes up the task of brighting things.