Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Rituals of the Last Ride into the North
NOB HILL--As Mike and I get closer to boarding that plane for West Yellowstone, it becomes apparent that this is not just another ride. We both realize that this is the last, the end, the culmination of four years of bike riding. So far we have gone from Polomas, Mexico to Montana. This next ride is the last stage. It is the end of the road.
We have ridden the continental divide right up the paved spine of America. The road ends 600 miles north of the Canada border...in Jasper.
Our succumbing to the rituals of ending this journey is seen in the attention we pay to things that never mattered to us before: new matching sox, business cards to pass out to people we meet along the way, and now actually writing out equipment lists. We have new tubes, new tires, new cameras, new tents, new stove. We are taking a new laptop. I'm even riding a different bike--the Gary Fisher mountain bike I used on my bikepacking adventure earlier this summer in the Jemez Mountains.
Mike and I talk every day. We have plane and motel reservations. We have a route schedule for all 20 riding days. We meet at bike shops. We just bought extra spokes, brake and deraileur cables, and an extra bright tail-light for that early morning ride up Going-to-the-Sun Highway.
I can't think of anything I have ever done that is like this. There is no fear...just excitement. This is going to be SO BEAUTIFUL: West Yellowstone to Jasper, B.C. by bike...1100 miles of beauty at an average speed of less than 10 mph.
There is also some anticipation of the end of it all. That, my friends, is not a happy thought.