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I don't pedal downhill July 15th of the third year

Another town, another post office and another place to ditch some more weight. It's funny to think that at the end of the last tour, I was carrying a steel sword on my bike just for the hell of it. Right now, I'm looking to trade in my silverware for plastic utensils just to throw some ounces to the wayside. The Cascades have done a good job in convincing us to minimize.

It's when you're really getting your ass kicked by a steep, empty road that you realize you're not in Kansas anymore. Entirely spent, the wheels cease to turn and my feet hit the ground. With my elbows resting on top of the handlebars, my head hangs and sweat drips from my brow and onto the map. The pulsing of my own heart beats loudly on my ear drums, but soon subsiades. The birds are singing, the nearby brook is babbling and a gentle breeze welcomes me back. The creek just ahead is churning up fresh oxygen and breathing a new, cooling life into the air. If I weren't on a schedule, I might stay for hours to breath it in, but I cannot.

As the day wears on, the climbs continue. Between two giant ridges of mountain, I barrel on through the valley between, along the river and engulfed in shade. The evening light is stolen from within this route and only shines far atop the wall of rock beside me. Though in time, all light is lost and still I climb. Up, up, up... ever onward. The more we climb today, the less we climb tomorrow. I'd continue to the top if I could, but these legs aren't ready for it and I have to call it a day.

How often do you have the chance to sleep in the woods, alone, for as long as you'd like, peacefully, where nobody could possibly know where you are? I've forgotten how revitalizing this can be. As before, I'm having profoundly vivid dreams that seem to stretch forever through time with no beginning and no end -- I'm just lucky enough to catch the train in motion and go for a ride. Atop the highest skyscraper in a city of animated and curiously curved, hand-sketched buildings, I launched myself into a peaceful flight of music and color. I could fly, drift, spin or dive with perfect fluidity, in line with any degree of gravity I so desired. Traveling about was an art form and I flowed freely, soaring, flipping or diving headlong in harmony with my own tune. I splashed about the galaxies of deep space and swam in a weightless river of stars. Over a waterfall I fell towards the ground, and then through it. Through it into deep canyons of red and the warm browns of earth. It was invigorating and care-free, like a deep breath of euphoria with no need to exhale. And when my eyes finally opened, the stars I swam remained brilliantly scattered above in the night sky. I had only to lay there and smile.

Back on the road and spinning wheels, we polished off the rest of the 5,500' climb in a couple hours. The backside of this mountain was almost as surreal as the dream and was a good 15 miles of practical bicycle freefall. As you're going down, all you can think about is how much you wish you could save the moment. Maybe get it on video, maybe just share it with someone -- it's so glorious that you wish it didn't have to end, and you sort of wish it never had to start. As soon as the downhill begins, the elevation is lost and the road fades away and begins to fade from memory. It's a once-and-forever feeling and I wish I didn't have to let it go.

Click the PLAY button to watch video

Down in the town of Winthrop, I washed the sweat and salt out of my clothes and went to find a shower. They want $20 for a camp site with a shower I can't do it. No deal, that's pizza money. Fast-foward fifteen minutes later and I'm swimming in the river and scrubbing myself down. Bye-bye sunscreen, bye-bye bug spray, dirt and blood. It was a bit chilly but damn refreshing... I'm sure it won't be the last time.


Comments to date: 1


July 20th, 2008 @ 5:31pm

damn chuck, those pics make it all worth it. i can't imagine how breathtaking it is in person. keep it up.

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