I’m loving that it’s so dark. By which I mean the towering colossal stupid.
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.
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.
This heat spell sets some of our plans back, but they were just wispy talk anyway, replaceable by any number of alternative excellent foolish ideas.
That geographic immensity is hard to contain in the imagination so it remains an abstraction, a blurred assurance that on the ground it keeps going and so might you.
A trail that is a half finished sculpture, the figure’s pose clear enough but all the cuts merely confident drafts, a roll over a tree bowl here, thread through fresh hack there, soft soil or sand trap.
Brought a small duffel of essentials and attached a Tangle, seat bag, top tube bag, and harness. Switched the bottle cage to a fork mount and borrowed another for the other side.
Leaves and moss and sucking bogs and wind, the grey that cracks to sunshine and then the mosquitoes that figure 8 curve back and again on me, the tannic rivers and the suggestion if not reality of cold, ambient glow at 3am
For a month long bikepacking trip in Sweden and Norway in June/July I rode my main expedition wheel, a modified 2010 Surly Pugsley.