Normally this is the most difficult commentary to write since the journey is over. We have traveled more than 600 miles through some rigorous highways in what the North East weathermen describe as the wettest spring in the last 20 years. Some areas experienced over 5 inches of rain in less than an hour. This is more rain that I have seen in NM in the last 20 years, total.
I must say that the bulk of the people we encountered were relatively happy to see us. Even with their gracious hospitality I couldn’t help but feel the overall disappointment in the outcome of the season. This had been the rainiest two years that the NE had seen in a long time.
The rain and the economy had discouraged tourists from coming and even camping in the area. In these parts the tourist season lasts approximately 150 days. 26 straight days of rain can really put a damper on the earnings potential of the community. That being said I pray for dryer days ahead.
In any ride there are certain adjustments that one must make. The physical, the mental, and believe it or not there is a spiritual adjustment.
There is the process of getting used to the ride (physically). As much training as you think you have done your muscles, tendons, heart, and lungs all need to get used to a six to eight hours of constant peddling. The tender part of your backside cannot be ready for the repetitious cycle that the thighs require and therefore your rump needs time to accustom itself to the shape of the bicycle seat. Hands become numb with your weight pressed against your palms and your arms continuingly being held in one position. To overcome this you must remind yourself to exercise and stretch even as you are riding or you will end up with prolonged paralysis in your fingers that may take months to work out.
Second one must rely and work together with your partner to make plans, follow maps, determine stops, and where and when to eat. You must both be flexible and willing to discuss even the most mundane of decisions before running off on your own. By the way Jon and I haven’t always found that our friendship sailed on calm seas; but we both have always had the common sense to meet each other half way. If you ever decide to make this type of journey a goal and are intending to have company remember tolerance and understanding hold the key to good relations.
Maybe the most important process is the ability to mellow into the hour after hour of mental deliberation. Meditation is something that one ought to cultivate long before beginning the trip. To meditate successfully you must be able to focus your consciousness and at the same time be aware of all that is happening around you. Cars and trucks are passing you with phenomenal speeds and bulk, changes in routes occur without much warning, roads lack adequate space for cars much less bikes, and above all you must know where your partner is at all times.
Once this mental talent is accomplished you can concentrate on the solitude and contemplation of the moment. You will not be dissuaded by incumbent weather, traffic or hours of deserted highways. Over the hours that it takes to cover miles and miles of road your mind is free to explore its own relevance. You have time and mental clarity to allow your perspective to open. I would find these journeys rather mundane without the opportunity to practice the spiritualism afforded me by the simplicity of the journey.
The several treks that I have been privileged to participate in have inspired moments that are etched into my mind. Butterflies that land on my handlebars, the slug that catches a ride in the rain, and the occasional lizard that races you along the shoulder of a hot dusty road, these are all about us but we rarely take or are afforded the time to focus on the most basic gifts.
This journey is much like many others I have ridden and I hope like many more. I hope that I can keep in mind to stop and observe the gifts that surround me whether I am biking, walking or just sitting. And that I always appreciate the journey.
Thank you for joining us on this ride and I hope all of you take the chance and enjoy the experience.