The Hopi have a legend about how they came to live in this world, the fourth world, as they called it. There are many variations to this story, but they all agree on certain points. The world in which they lived was corrupt, depraved, and evil. It was an unhappy life, so they sought higher ground.
Eventually the search led to this world, and through the climbing of tall trees, they climbed out from the underworld and emerged, into this the fourth world.
The ancient pueblo dwellers used the Sipapu, a whole at the bottom of a Kiva to remind them of their emergence into this world. The Kiva was a place of ceremony, a temple, a reminder of the evil they escaped in the underworld.
One of the problems with being out on a long, slow bike ride, is that the mind starts to work overtime. It has to, to keep an acceptable level of sanity. As I turned the pedals in the late hours on Saturday I found my mind wandering across the wide mesa I had just climbed, down the banks of the Colorado, and across the desert I had left behind. My mind was everywhere, and nowhere.
Now, days later I am starting to make sense of the day’s odyssey. Every race serves a purpose. Every race becomes a rite of passage into something new, someplace yet traveled. It might be that the road is through dark cavernous holes you never realized existed in your being, it might be through the sharp pain of speed. Maybe it is both, simultaneously.
But regardless of the outcome, the process itself becomes a threshold, an obstacle. How we overcome (or not) largely determines what type of threshold guardian the race becomes. It is a delicate balance between it being a helpful guide and friend, or rearing its ugly head as a nemesis and enemy.
Saturday was a day of emergence. Into a new world? Perhaps not. But certainly into a new way of thinking. Or at least, a different way…
The beauty of riding the Kokopelli Trail in the direction that we did, is that it offers a very unique opportunity to ascend. All routes have climbs. Some longer and more difficult. But few as symbolic. I wrote earlier about these climbs being bridges, and indeed they were on race day. They bridged an old world with a new.
The complex emotions of that day have dwindled away. And emerging above the fray is the joy of simply riding. I am already aching to compete again. I love the adrenalin of racing, and the delusional stupor that inevitably overcomes my psyche, convincing myself that I can hang…but that is all based on a foundation of just simply riding.
What will the next long day bring? It’s impossible to say right now. But no doubt, it will bring new stories, new emotions, and new thresholds crossed. Perhaps, even, it will bring a new world. Or at least a new way of seeing the one we live in now.