“You should not see the desert simply as some faraway place of little rain. There are many forms of thirst.”
Saturday left me as a dried reed. I am thirsty, and worn out. I have broke down a little bit since then, and find myself fighting off a cold. But as I put the day into perspective I am reminded again, of why I do long mountain bike rides. I’ve said it before, but each time I find myself alone in the wide desert, or high on an exposed mountain ridge, the idea is hammered home once again.
As I wound my way along Rockin’ A the sun fought through the clouds, creating a surreal scene over arches. What tourists in Moab that day saw that?
Climbing 313 cars whirred by me, oblivious to where I had been, and where I was going. To them, I was just another pedal biker. But I knew. I knew where I was heading, and what I was doing.
Just before the KTR in 2006 I wrote:
I am looking forward to the isolated pain of an endurance race. The world shrinks, becoming just the size of you and your bike. Pain and fatigue grip your thoughts, and life itself becomes a bitter battle between pressing forward, or falling over.
That holds true. I still look forward to those isolated moments, those times when the entire universe seems only to consist of wether or not you can progress. And it seems, progress is a product of experience. Or as B.H. Roberts put it, “progress or perish”.
Saturday held a small victory for me. I shut out the quit demons and pushed on through the mental urgings to do otherwise. Despite the highly persuasive nature of the demon and his argument. That was important for me. It was mojo in the tank, to be used down the road when again the whispers of failure creep up from the sand, enticing me to turn back, sit down, or never start at all.
The quit demon does not see what I see. He only knows failure. He does not experience the beauty of the blowing sand, or the heat of the desert sun. He does not hear the sweet sound of running water. He does not smell the high alpine air. He only knows the dark silence of defeat.
And so today, I am still thirsty. Physically, but figuratively as well. I am already longing for that next moment of clarity, isolation, and yes, even delusion. It is those moments that purge out the distractions of an ever increasingly distracted world. And as that world descends into the chaos of the rat race, I am content knowing that “out there” I can reconnect with myself, and remember and appreciate that indeed, “there are many forms of thirst.”