Saturday, November 13, 2010

what happens when I go away

today I drove across parts of wyoming. flat parts, hilly parts, windy parts. smooth asphalt, old and cracking asphalt, and test sections of slurry seal/chip seal/crack seal. (utah is not alone in proud ownership of crappy road surfaces.) I even drove a section of beautifully well packed dirt road.

I was in wyoming to research the writing project I'm working on, the first time in about eighteen months I've been on a road trip where my bike didn't come along.
what did come with me was thoughts of riding my bike.
especially when I saw the stunning wind river range, all snow-capped and crusted, sugary peaks poking up into the clouds. I wonder if there are roads up in there you can bike on, ran the little thought stream in my mind. wouldn't that be cool.
later I turned off the highway onto a side road that took me to south pass city (nearly a ghost town) and atlantic city (not much better), then a dozen miles further to a small bridge over the sweetwater river. the road rose and dipped, curved and swooped for mile after mile, sitting atop a stretch of land between the wind river range and the oregon buttes, allowing one a view for miles and miles in every direction. this stretch of land contains what is called the south pass, a seemingly flat section of the continental divide where pioneers crossed the mountains on their treks to the west.
I drove hundreds of miles today, a round trip from salt lake and back. flying along at seventy five miles an hour, I couldn't help but compare my travel to that of the horse-riding pioneers, the handcart-pulling mormons who walked, and the modern-day masochists (like me) who ride their bikes on ridiculously lengthy routes.
I was grateful for the sturdy metal that encapsulated me, protecting me from wind, cold, snow, and muscle fatigue. I don't wish that I lived in a time of horse and wagon travel. and today I didn't want to be riding my bike across even a small strip of windy wyoming.
nonetheless, my mind is programmed to consider the possibilities, to think about what the hills might feel like, to imagine the smell of the sagebrush and pine, to feel the burn of the climb and the joy of the swoop. even the grit of the hardpack dirt and the vibration of the chip seal.
it's part of me, a part that's hard to turn off.
so it's just possible that someday you might read about my riding adventures in the wind river range.
or on the dirt road between atlantic and south pass cities.
because everywhere I go, the wind blows minuscule little seeds that attach themselves to me and find a way to grow into whisperings that remind me of all the miles and miles of roads I have yet to ride my bike on.

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