I was thirty five miles into a sixty mile ride. The sun was setting at my back and my shadow was getting long like a fun house mirror. I was having a great day and feeling amazing. Even if I did get dropped by my riding companions. That’s fine. I wasn’t going slow by any means, but it happens all the time. I like being alone with my thoughts. Sometimes I think I get dropped on purpose. But usually I just like to saunter and take pictures more than most of my friends.
I could see the pass I was climbing to off in the distance. It’s a ways out there. But hot damn, I feel great. I go deep down the rabbit hole of my own thoughts, as I often do when I’m riding long by myself. How cool is it that the sandwich I just ate is being turned into energy? Then it is being being sent through all the plumbing in my body just to get me up there to that pass. I remind myself to drink some more water. I don’t want to mess with that plumbing. Neurons firing and calories getting combusted like coal being shoveled into a steam engine. Up the climb I go.
The road gets a little steeper and the sand a little deeper. I do the obligatory cursing of the washboard braking bumps and get on with it. I find that tempo and just move my legs to go forward. My breath is in control and body is still feeling great. This is fun as hell!
I remind myself to look around a little more. I’m in the desert and the sun is setting. Goddammit man. Look around! Then, almost involuntarily, I got off the bike and started walking. This used to happen to me a lot on long bike tours. But it’s been a while. I walked for about 100 yards with my head on a swivel, then got back to riding.
It is a really cool way to break up the ride for me. Forget all that macho shit you have been taught. That walking is somehow shameful. Hop off and get a little more in tune with your environment. Look around, behind and down. You will see a little more each time you do. Sometimes you just gotta walk it out!