I can’t hear what my companions are saying unless they’re up close. The hiss and knock of the drops on the gore tex whirlpool sucks all of our shouts down, and then the cold slows the light itself.
Edgeless days, us and the sky forward. Tonight we’ll belt mouthfuls of Jameson from a .5l plastic bladder that I refill at the wine monopoly government liquor stores in the bigger towns a week apart, but not if we’ve rolled through late. And the talk wanders, floats on thermals from our camaraderie.
The settling serenity is that it’s lost the instant after it comes. What’s left is analog, elemental substance: brown bog grasses, hillocks, snowpatches, refracting droplets, stone.
Lost in a watercolor smear between hilltops and sky until every shard was just a tighter spiral of repetition to a grey singularity. Windblow enough to not be able to hear what’s said, but the cadence and tonal shape is enough, the absence of reference points and yet we’re still here.
J and I only have a couple of days left before we leave, so I’ve proposed something dead easy, maybe relaxing, a little scenic: we’ll resupply, pedal out to Kane Creek Canyon, spend the night, then curl around Behind the Rocks to return to town via Pritchett Canyon.
Can’t say how many times I’ve ridden this trail. But never in this light, the breathless excitement of fatigue and the end of our food, never with the whole desert rock sand cliff dusk warping wrapping around us like a well told fairytale.
We nohurry some more, marvel at the skying walls, then off again.
Set off into a radiance and wind afternoon.
Riding the Pugsley in South Africa confirmed its bona fides as an unmatched roughest conditions touring bike. It remains my favorite expedition wheel.
Moving for these days at a racer’s daily pace has given me so much, but the gift is in the freedom to now sweep and unhurry, get blown along by some other force than a plan, and instead just expand.
I feel like a kid on a school field trip that hasn’t gone nearly the way the chaperones had imagined. G pointedly avoids using the word “lost” in spite of convincing appearances.
Levitating atop the smallest gear, clingy traction, absorption into modal blue. Mean little sheep feet have obscured any tracks from the racers ahead but sure as sure that this is the way.
The race is demanding, adventure style with map and compass navigational challenges, massive portages, unpredictable high desert winter weather, a rough track, big climbs.