It was a long time ago, in a place and situation very familiar to us all that I first learned what the bicycle was going to mean to me throughout my life. It was my first solo ride on Gooseberry and it came after a full month or so of hiding in my basement listening to the Cure and writing very bad poetry. I was a heart broken teenager who felt like there was no reason to continue. Until I remembered the Goose…
Something about just the thought of riding my bike and being outside sparked the fire that was pretty much dead. I went, I rode and no the pain wasn’t gone but I had something to do until it was. A few more rides, some hikes, some being outside in the middle of nowhere with nothing but my thought and no Robert Smith singing in the background and I was a new
This past weekend was the apex of KB’s Birthday Celebration. The Alliance (Prattipus, Cimabun, Brother and Sister Meinkey) spent Saturday pedaling around the Vegas desert on singlespeeds and other bikes. There were a couple of bazookas brought to this knife fight. The thing about Vegas singletrack is that it is kind of mindless or at least the stuff around Blue Diamond is. And I don’t say that in a bad way. It’s one of those trails where you point the bike and start pedaling and soon you are lost in your thoughts and the vastness of the desert landscape that is engulfing you.
It’s perfect trail for a singlespeed. Anything that you climb is a mellow grade and the pendulum of your legs rising and falling slowly rocks you into your own thoughts and those places that you couldn’t get to shut up, fall silent. The only thing you notice is a spot in the trail about 15 feet ahead of where your front tire is currently rolling. It’s trails like these that the hardest part is remembering that you are supposed to stop to regroup.
More importantly, you often forget to stop and notice how beautiful the desert is. I can’t say I think of Vegas and think, man that desert is beautiful. No, it’s more like, shit that shit looks like shit. Truth of the matter is that if you leave the city, the surrounding area is pretty awesome. This is spot on when it comes to the area around Blue Diamond and Red Rock Canyon. Or Henderson and Lake Mead.
Which is an interesting point. Cities are ugly, nature is beautiful. If you get man out of the way and let the world be, it will amaze you. The desert outside Las Vegas is essentially the same, only unmodified by man. Outside of the city, you feel something different. The landscape seems to speak, call and absorb you. A city does the opposite. It tries to kill you, expel you, take your money and make you a slave to its convenience so you can never leave.
While the desert will also try to kill you, it can give a safe haven, a place to hide from those voices, a place to return to whatever it is that we need to reset and recharge.
And it was these moments that we were relishing. After a morning ride with Brother and Sister Meinkey, we headed back into the city to drop our bikes and grab some snacks for a hike in Red Rock. We were about to our room when KB’s phone rang. All of her senses were lost and she was yelling at the phone and screaming at me to get into the room. Once inside, she collapsed to the floor uncontrollably sobbing. Again.
I say again, because, this is way too much like the last time. The time we were in the California desert enjoying some Joshua trees, hiking, feeling lost under the immense intensity of the stars only to have it ended by a phone call and uncontrollable sobbing.
We packed our bags and headed home.
It’s demonstrative of how one dimensional my life is, but on Monday I took KB for a bike ride. I didn’t feel like going and I know she didn’t either, but some how we both knew that this ride wasn’t optional. We loaded the fat bikes and headed toward Yellow Knolls. This was a bad idea. It’s a fun little ride, but it wasn’t what we needed. It required too much thought, too much wondering how to get up or down something.
We finished it out and then made our way up to the Black Gulch and stumbled upon Lange’s Dugway. It took about another 90 minutes before she smiled, before she could see the beauty of what we were riding. The old road took no thought, just pedal and maneuver the front wheel around the sage brush that was slowly retaking the desert. Spinning on the Fat Boys, we found ourselves lost in the desert of our thoughts and while everything was not ok, we knew that it would be someday.
Iif only for a moment while pedaling our bikes.
P. L. and R.