Yaris and I had just reached the town of Austin, Nevada. It was late, it was cold, and everything was closed. Except for one gas station at the end of town. It was there we performed the usual routine of scrounging around for something to curb our insatiable hunger. It was also there that we met two other dirty, smelly cross country cyclists named Geoff and Shawn. The four of us immediately struck up a conversation and bonded over the fact that we were very much out of place in this small town. One thing leads to another and we’re camping out together behind a park, sharing stories of the road over a beer. A few days earlier a man and his wife told Yaris and I about these hot springs in the middle of the desert. The four of us agreed that we could use a nice relaxing soak. So on we rode onto an unpaved road littered with jagged rocks. If I recall each of us fell off our bikes at least once during the trek. After a few miles we all began to doubt the existence of the springs. The idea of turning back became increasingly enticing but never strong enough to derail us. Somehow, someway, we found them. With little hesitation we submerged our aching bodies into the boiling water.
The view from the springs was unforgettable. Snowcapped mountains encompassed our view We were quite literally in the middle of nowhere and we couldn’t ask for a single thing more. Eventually the rain fell. So the only logical course of action we agreed upon was to build a fire, drink PBR and eat potato chips. The rain was unyielding and glacial, but we persisted. As the flames grew higher so did our spirits. Times like these define a person. Sure we could have easily retreated to our tents and spent the night miserably freezing. Rather we chose to laugh at our predicament and howl at the moon like the wild animals that we were. It was without question one of the most enjoyable and memorable nights I’ve had on this trip.
Naturally when the opportunity arose to reunite with Shawn and Geoff, I jumped at it. We spent the majority of our first night talking about how relieved we were to not have to talk about our respective tours. We caught up on our lives. I asked them about transitioning back into their lives off the road and the complexities of said adjustment. Much was gleaned from them, but beyond that, I was just happy to be back with two people who could understand and relate with me on a level that so few understand. No much needed to be said most of the time because we all knew the feeling. That feeling. That feeling which cannot be described with words. Just felt. And I certainly felt it.
Yaris was missed. Severely. My memory of Shawn and Geoff had Yaris in every one of them. To not have him there this time around was extremely difficult for me. When Geoff or Shawn would start a story of the road, the other would finish it. They have a bond with each other that will never be deteriorated or altered. I have that with Yaris. I know we both appreciate that and that appreciation was heightened during my time with Geoff and Shawn. We save a spot for him at the table and poured him a beer.
I don’t think Shawn and Geoff understand how much I valued the time I shared with them. This trip has been trying and tiring. We all know how valuable a friendship is. Having not seen any of mine for what feels like years is enough to put me in a depressive state. Random memories and snapshots from specific friends have been floundering about my mind for quite some time. Watching Yaris walk towards his terminal in L.A. Hugging Brian in my driveway. Biking through the dimly light Philadelphia streets with Justin. Breaking bottles and blasting The Doors with Scott. Staying up all night talking with Drew on our stoop. They all began to feel so distant. I had never felt more separated from these friendships until I saw Geoff and Shawn. Interacting with them conjured up these beams of light that exuded the fondest of memories, but more importantly, the prospect of formulating new ones. I only have 1,000 more miles on this damn bike to get home. Until I get to hug each of my friends and tell them how much they mean to me. Until I can finally feel like a friend again. Until then. I ride.
Total Ascent: 2541 ft.
Total ascent: 2320 ft.