This project with Conservation International attempts to harness the deep and longstanding cycling culture of Colombia to highlight the need to look after these paramos.
I’m loving that it’s so dark. By which I mean the towering colossal stupid.
Juxtapositions are a unexpected source of warmth and attentiveness. Kilometers of rolling dirt paths between farmhouses, images of an idyllic shire in mist gusting half light, and then a heap of rusting military vehicles, abandoned at a crossroads like children’s toys.
Into the countryside, we’ll link spomeniks while harassed by sheets of rain that turn the track into mud and leave us shivering wrapped in grey. Unphotographed moments that have now only retrospexistence, which can often be truer.
The Spomeniks of former Yugoslavia are future thinking, political, and mnemonic. They are notable in how their materiality achieves spirituality. To me they have a powerful beauty and they continue to speak even as they decay and are in many cases neglected.
A line that in this part of the country doesn’t follow something natural like the Rio Grande but instead is a cartographer’s dashed euclidean creation. Maybe that’s more honest with respect to the contingency and arbitrariness, maybe it doesn’t let us off the hook by encouraging lies about the separation and the essential unalloyed luck of being born on one side or the other of it.
[Originally published in Bikepacking Journal no.2, 2019 with photos by Logan Watts. Shared here with my photos.]
We were in Ethiopia for twelve thousand minutes. The only tiny thing we gave back, all we could, is that we respect that we’re alive together and making meaning together and writing and rewriting memories. We are not owed anything, not kindness or regard or being taken care of. If these things are not given, we still owe our own herculean colossal effort of understanding.
This ride breathes and coils. Sometimes big climbs, other times flick woodsy singletrack turns. Logan’s route inscribes dirt road motifs in a more expansive land’s humps and berms and valleys movement.
We say it matter of factly, and the facts are just bricks, our talk mortar—one could build walls or a paved path.
In Japan we followed roads in the densest cities with glinting rolling boxes and chirping screens and orderly crosswalks as if from a polished wood future, roads swaying up peaks into greys greens with pavement glinting from recent or hinting rains, some roads that are hardly intact anymore, forlorn tracks between trees.
We’ll visit some sites from tour and guidebooks, mostly we’ll be breath slowing across landscapes to find less insistent beauty, the beauty in the ordinary things in their ordinary state.
Everywhere is in our imagination before we go and even after, but Japan unusually so. Landscapes outside of temporal location, in the city it’s dense quiet incandescent tidy shoulder to shoulder bullet train shoe fall spider web of communication lines vending machines shrines at the foot of glass sheen. We’ll try incompetent noodle slurp, we’ll drink beer with men with loosened collars and identical sloppy knot black ties, we’ll stand quizzically in front of blinking lights for some sort of tawdry robot show.