My bike and I are one machine, discovering new roads, trails, passes, and people. On the saddle, I am engine, pushing and pulling us. We made it over mountains, peering off the ledges with bottomless drops. Bullseye and I cycled through canyons with more impatient and angry drivers than shoulders. Fingers and spokes crossed, hoping no one comes barreling around the corner, smashing the both of us, like the other roadkill we pass. We biked through cities with potholes the size of craters on the moon – feeling like we were on another planet or in a Nietzsche story: stare into the abyss long enough and it Will stare into you. We forced ourselves through the plains where the wind attacks from all directions and the cornstalks dance to the whistle it makes. The country roads were nothing but dirty and manure, but we barreled through. We trusted speed limit laws on the highway. Just once. And I tested my faith in gravity several times through snow, ice, and pools of water, praying to Giant I stay perpendicular to the road.
“To travel” is a passive verb. People riding in metal contraptions instead of on these machines. The pilots and drivers and conductors doing the leg work to get people to their destination; passengers passively sitting, faces squished against the window, and their eyes – the most active body part: scanning the outside passing them by. If they aren’t staring out the window, they’re staring down into their phone, talking to people passively traveling elsewhere. No one truly consuming their surroundings, trapped behind windows and doors and seatbelts.
Traveling isn’t about the destination. Bullseye’s taught me that it’s about how you get there – the journey; that’s where all the action is. How did my bike and I make it 122 miles unassisted? Who cares that my final destination was my home. People want to know how I did that without help from someone else. Where are the hidden gems that assisted me along the way. Well, it’s called Questbars, camelback, porter potties, and a set route prior to departure. And always, always, a spare tube and CO2 cartridge.
Traveling 122 miles not only helped me discover more of Colorado, but me. I found out I could run over a staple and not notice until I met a hill. I learned I can change a tire within 7 minutes staying calm the entire time and that I only need my starch drink, a bottle of water, camelback, and a Questbar to get me through 10 hours of bike riding. 10 hours of travel would drive anyone a little crazy. This is where I really become “one” with my bike: my rear and shoes totally locked on to the bike. No sense in adjusting because that’ll just hurt more: one would even consider us sadists – putting our bodies through torture. This is how I learn what I can and can’t handle – those last 10 miles, up minor hills felt like we were cycling over mountains. My legs wanted to stop, just sit down for a little, but my mind is stronger, and I pushed them farther. Bullseye was gritting his teeth; the chain squeaking with every revolution. The last five, skin crawling inside my jersey and the jersey drenched with enough sweat, I could bathe in it.
And then reaching the destination: home. Dorothy was right: “There’s no place like home.” As I scooted off the saddle, the sores, feet, fingers, back screaming, a wave of exhaustion settled over me the same time as the sun. No one was home. It was an anticlimactic ending to an epic day. No one to share the glory with but myself – which, I learned is all I need.