Seven of eight hours in, I begin knocking against the wall.  I am deep inside the verdancy, a canopy of green cradled beyond the sound of machines.  Riding along the pulsing hummus veins of an old forest, I know for the seventh time, the second of two heinous climbs is fast approaching.   I ride along the margins of the trail, savoring every last inch of sinewy singletrack, before the trail spits me out on the fireroad and I’m forced to make the ninety degree right turn up the series of punishing inclines. 


I pump my front tire down along the undulations, twists, and folds of this ridge top traverse feeling the rhythms; the ups and downs, of this track, of this lap, of this race as it reverberates throughout my hollow bones.  A vital ache pinched in my lower back that spreads like radiation, echoing off the soreness in my triceps and the burning in my legs.

 I pedal and race on, the wind and the trauma upon my shoulders argue to sway me over the edge, but one last flow section of rollers moves me to momentum and carries me up the last short pitch to the fireroad.  I turn my rig to the right and look up from the bottom of the never ending climb with an exhausted grace. Minutes without end. 

I can feel the
age of this world collapse like
faith upon my shoulders.

Now near the top of the climb, I’ve risked like a lunatic and in a colicky stage of despair become a threadbare man: a herniated heart and two bloodshot red green eyes.  I press down on my single gear and continue to kill myself by writing small verses, mantras, in my head.  My labored breathing stands on its last legs just as I crest the top and begin the long, fast descent to the next singletrack section.  It’s about 7 PM and I’ve given up hope of trying to squeeze an eighth lap out of the daylight, so I settle in content with all the climbing at my back and nothing but fun fast singletrack all the way home. 

Time to relax and focus on the important things.

The Sun: Earlier the nuclear eye of a candle, is hanging lower in the sky a furious furnace-orange and drips its filtered light through the mesh of pine boughs in waves of searing mango light.  

The Trail: A living pigment sculpture chiseled out of the forest, slides into shades of velvet and brushed lavender shadows. 

The SeasonIt’s the first day of Summer but as the evening wind picks up, it feels like the first night of Fall.  My nose runs and my cheeks are cold gleaming with sweat.   Accelerate on the straights, lean the corners, trail the brake, and repeat; a welcome fifteen minute repetition to the finish.

Darkness fell fast, shadows rush in and the beer flowed freely.  We retreated to the warmth of our campfires as the winds increased.  Twenty-four hour riders continued riding through the forest under a broken bone-white crescent moon.  And we sat together until the ritual of our fire faded and disappeared; a maze of coal, fat red globules not worth the trouble of flame, changing lines on our faces, and we were left treading the murky waters of the night.

Photo by:  Cabot O'Callaghan

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