The identity of this place is that it is nowhere, towns that we will inertia through when we need to, but the network of agricultural tracks horizons into midmorning heat and we don’t have to intersect anything else.
In the thick experience of movement and days, in the backroads dust and the chest pressing heat, in the hundred laughter cheek kiss embrace conversations we have, it’s there that the void gets filled, making me ride grinning at how close it was.
Altitude makes it so that you only have one burst for a rockpile or for a steep bit, legs twang tense up hard spin and the bike lifts but then the delicate state of your breathing spiral lofts into a wobble in an unstable trough and it’s all you can do to keep going forward.
Gliding through all greens tans blue but for the red barn flash, sounding loudly still summer silence.
These first hours are the merest fragmental sliver of a ride across the USA to San Francisco to Los Angeles and then a New York return. But they’re the hours that set the emotions and put us on a road together where we’ll laugh and see and ride an idea, namely the idea that on a bicycle trip we’re in a place up close with our best vulnerabilities and openness, that we’re supporting each other not by insulating ourselves from the landscape but by enabling each other to breathe better in it.
(9-10 April, 2016)
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.
The miles wind and snake and gritty crunch, achieving a clip and breeze until the balance tips and we can feel the sweat under our pack straps telling us that winter is someone else’s thoughts now.
Thread of dirt like the path of unusually ambitious and purposeful cows through brush, the Lime Kiln Trail. Push the bikes up to a sharp crag ridge, then a short fast drop and it’s dusty and snaking through rolling brush, mountains in the distance, a scene from a dozen Westerns and we open it up.
Endless traction sandstone, staircase drops through narrow canyon cuts, float across a wash, drift through mushy snowpatch. We’ll slalom switchbacks back and forth until the tap tap repetition is mantra.
That first day bright simple sunshine pedal into clay paths through palo verde and brush, distant orange rocks, upkick buck drift with my timing all off out of the turns and lofting the front wheel.
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.
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.