We were a happily motley bunch, with nary a “normal” bike amongst us. Fixie Dave and I were on Bike Friday’s new All-Packa folding ATB (Dave’s was fixed gear, of course), Chris was on a Velo Orange Neutrino mini-velo with a fixed gear and pulling a trailer to haul Eddy Merckx, and Micah rode his singlespeed Surly Karate Monkey.
With summer ending and craving a last reflection: I’d been to 49 U.S. States, North Dakota was the only one missing. Flew to Williston, rode the Maah Daah Hey Trail down to Medora. The last week has been transcendent. Not a splinter of shade over the dust and palimpsest of extraction, geomorphology, western mythology. Riding solo through exquisite sadness and exultation, 150 kilometers of singletrack skimming a parallel dimension of 19th century lore and desolation, an infinity of heat or clay or cricket clouds. And then a headlong return back into corporeality on dirt roads and highways defined by oversized load trucks and hazy decoherence. Invited by heat and time to be tolerant of loneliness and grateful for the lucid fractal hallucinations it makes possible. Laying in the vanishing coolness thinking about how to make myself not think anymore, just waiting until massless photons crushed my gravity into cyclical forward existential abyss.
I frequently visited Patagonia when I lived in Tucson in the 1990s.
West Virginia has a long and storied tradition of East Coast mountain biking. The pitched terrain, the remoteness of woods noisy with life, mountain tops holding up humid air and sunlight.
A landmark, a place to focus a quiet fun story, a metaphor.
This inland Maine, mosquitoes and a low rippled earth, a thickness, a null-time and none-here, a forward that feels like a happy stuck.
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.
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.
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.