Walking down the street to Zax’s Saturday evening, I was shivering. Wearing capilene and two sweaters, hat, socks with sandals, looking with wonderment at passers-by in shorts and flipflops. Cause to realize I was not normal.
It’s only recently that I’ve come to appreciate these opportunities.
In retrospect, a hard day out without enough proper food, plus a crappy breakfast and a nasty cough were what I had to thank for that mundane moment of satori. Even better, that evening in the motel bed, heater cranked, monster trucks on the tv, shivering violently and soaking a towel on my head with sweat. Remind me, why am I not at home with an Xbox?
Because of all the normal platitudes: I’ve been an atheist since I was a child, and take Nietzsche at his word that individual action in the face of the absurd is the only path away from Nihilism. What Thoreau, contemporaneous great soul, called “quiet desperation.” And that in the end is what I fear, at the end of the day an engagement that will have seemed half-hearted. So, I run away from home and play tricks on myself.
And Gold Bar is a great trick indeed, especially halfway. Going back is silly, going forward sucks, and sitting in protest and waiting for a helicopter is impractical. So you go on, and take small comfort in the guy next to you having a rougher time of it.
Again, when that guy is riding a fixed gear in an implacable manner, it makes life a little more difficult.
Mr. Niceguy gets the rabbit award, he does indeed keep going and going and going. Never particularly fast, never very slow, never complaining. His music is, above all else, honest.
Something to which I aspire.
And his new bike is kick ass.
In general, I felt in elevated company this weekend. Everyone was riding strong. Everyone struggled (except Fred, you stoic bastard), but everyone struggled well. Chris endoed hard onto bare rock, but the shadow only seemed to hang with him for about 10 minutes. I’ve carried it for weeks. Then he snapped a front brake cable (curious, how old?) and moved on with a shrug. We had numerous moments, at the ends of breaks, at the tops of climbs, where everyone shared a tainted minute before standing up and moving on. Shared understanding, shared music.
So now, the question is more acute. The axe is hanging at the end, and I think I have a good chance of making “the turn” by mid-afternoon. Then you’ll have to face the suffering, the doubt. I am at least heartened by noticing the stock ponds along 313. I don’t do well without LOTS of water, and if it’s hot I’ll be pressed to carry enough even with a full resupply. Route-finding is similarly set out; Fred has put a huge effort into marking the route, discretely. It’ll still be sporting, and you’ll have ample cause to blow through intersections and get lost if due prudence is not payed.
In the end, the course is spectacular. It’s a great cross-section of truly distinct terrain, and to finish you’ll have to make nice. So, I’ll be there. I’m loath, now, to trash a four day weekend by destroying myself out there, yet the heat of the moment is not known for prudence. We shall see.