Day 9 (Connections)

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My last morning with Uncle Dutch and Aunt Gerry consisted of a cream of wheat breakfast, a pair of hugs, and a promise to see each other again. Spending time with them was something I will cherish for a while. I’ll miss our stimulating, well versed, and often times heartfelt conversations. I felt connected to them on a level surpassing the expectations of a two day visit.

The road was vast and thought provoking today. Because there wasn’t much to look at, I discovered a neat phenomenon. If you stare into the seemingly endless open road for a length of time, then direct your eyes to a mountain range, the mountains begin to shape shift. That is how I spent an entire hour today.

I was finally chased by my first pack of dogs on this trip east! They didn’t really put up much of an effort. I was disappointed by their lackluster attempt to catch me. I guess they had better things to do.

Because of how dry the air is out here, I received a nosebleed today. A nosebleed that refused to stop and left me with blood all over my clothes/the road. I actually ran into a few people and had conversation with some all the while oblivious to the fact that I had dried blood encompassing the lower half of my face. I had a ten minute conversation with a guy named John in this state. I can only wonder what must have been going through that guy’s head and why he humored me for that long.

About halfway through the day I came upon a white bicycle. If you don’t know what those are, they’re essentially a memorial spot for a cyclist who was struck and killed by an automobile in that location. I have seen far too many white bicycles on this journey. This one belonged to a 40 year old man named Brett Saks. I noticed a zip lock bag in the back wheel containing a few notes from his child. I had no choice but to sit there and stare at this bicycle. I thought about what Brett’s face might have looked like when he’d be flying down a hill, or the joy that I’m sure overtook him when he’d catch a tailwind. Naturally, I reflected on my own morality and reminded myself of how easily I can be struck at any instant. I know that all I can do is control my actions on my bicycle and remain conscious of the hazardous nature of this endeavor. I am connected to this white bicycle, and I will think of Brett when I reach the coast. I will reach the coast.

Later in the day I rode through the town of Coolidge. Coolidge has a Wal-Mart in town. Coolidge also has a section of town occupied by closed down and abandoned businesses. Towns like these are a constant reminder of the unregulated greed that saturates our capitalist structure. I have observed more decay of Middle America than I would care to discuss. At this moment, I feel a disconnect with human nature.

Before I exited Coolidge, a boy on a bike yelled what I thought was “bike power” while raising his clenched fist in my direction. I raised my fist in response. After a few seconds, I debated whether or not he said “bike power” or “white power”. I couldn’t hear him because I had my headphones in. Either I perpetuated this young man’s hatred, or I reinforced his love of bikes. I’ll never know. I was separated from my interactions with the outside world, because I was busy connecting with two people discussing the necessity for furthering space exploration on my Ipod.I have never interacted with these two people yet I felt more associated with them than this kid. However, while I had zero impact on the discussion taking place in my ears, I definitely made an unknowing impression on the boy. I think I’m looking too far into this ordeal. Hopefully we’re not racists.

Once outside of Coolidge, I had much less visual stimulation. Therefore I had more time to contemplate the idea of fear. I am not afraid of scorpions. The fact that I am in an environment where the chances of me encountering a scorpion are dramatically increased, would suggest that I might become fearful of them. Nope. I am afraid of commitment. Not scorpions. The idea of spending the rest of my life with someone else is a much bigger fear than some insect. What if I’m 40, married, and I wake up next to that person and become overwhelmed with boredom towards that person? Or even worse, what if they grow bored of me? I am afraid to say ‘I love you’ to some people because I know that one day they’ll die. I think that’s more irrational than being afraid of a scorpion, but it’s a legitimate fear of mine. It’s an anxiety I’m working to eliminate from my life, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it more often than not. Sometimes I wish I could fear something so innocuous like a bug instead of such heady things. I desperately want to turn my brain off for just a day and be afraid of something dumb like a scorpion. Ugh, fuck scorpions. By the way, I am totally going to get stung by a scorpion tonight for talking so much shit on them. When you’re staring at the same landscape for two hours, and you don’t think about things like this, I sometimes envy you.

I am camping off the side of the road again tonight.  Last night I was in a heated house sleeping on a comfortable mattress. Tonight I will put sticks on a fire in an attempt to stay warm and to fend off the pack of coyotes that incessantly howls at the moon every 45 seconds. I still don’t know which of these nights I like better. I live a strange life, but it is the one I chose for myself and I am quite fond of it.

Stats:

Miles: 67.89

Calories: 2618

Time: 6:20:42

Total Ascent: 1224 ft.

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2 responses to “Day 9 (Connections)

  1. great post, its always sad to see a white bike, takes ages to come away from encountering one of these sad reminders of our mortality, that is why it is important to grab life by its throat and and hold it hostage for little while. i dont get why people shout things out of cars as nothing is ever heard properly, i hope its bike power too, and for the scorpions sleep with your shoes as your pilow. ride safe

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