(Note: I’m on a three-day solo trip up to Summit County to check out some of the riding there, and to do lots of writing. I hope to get three rides in, depending on weather, and to camp. All by my lonesome.)
It’s around 5 PM, and I’m sitting in a denuded campground along Route 9, which leads from Summit County to Steamboat, waiting for the blazing sun to lose its power so I can stop hiding in the shadow of my trusty old Subaru. The sky is that distant, gigantic Colorado blue, and the sun is a gold circle burning like a god who wants to warm the world but doesn’t understand the frailty of us, her worshippers.
While driving on the way out from Denver, a series of deep thoughts (Jack Handy-style, full of hokeyness and dripping with earnest feelings!) came across my brain and hit me with sledgehammer force, most notably this simple truth: the most precious thing in this world is to love and be loved.
Can you hear the violins playing a sweet, delicate symphony? I did. Still do. (Go ahead, fellas, and revoke my Man Card. I dare you.)
Why I must build the complicated machinations of going away by myself in order to recognize this truth, I don’t know. But I have my suspicions.
Distance from those you love—while you’re all by yourself, imagining them going about their day, without you—is enough to break your heart when you realize that you should, and will, be there. Because there is no other place on earth where you more belong.
And perhaps that is why I love to ride off into the wilderness, to get away, to get above treeline and to scare the wits out of myself. For the sheer work of it, of course; for the strong dose of adrenaline, too; and the beauty of nature, the endless challenge, to be sure. But also this: it takes me away from those I love and need, and allows me to see them for the foundation of my entire being that they are. All of them. Blood relations, life partner, friends. And dog. And Hamsters.
Sure, the world would get along fine without me, whether I am dead or have run away (a youthful obsession of mine) or merely slogging up a trail between Keystone and Breckenridge. But I don’t want to get along without the amazing world I’ve somehow found myself in the middle of.
Sometimes I need a good reminder of it all; going away and then coming back home does just that. (Never, ever, take your life for granted. That would be very stupid, Mike you too, gentle reader.)
Now the sun is trailing low along a ridge and soon she’ll be gone. The body of water in front of me—the Green Mountain Reservoir—is calm. Occasionally a fish leaps out and breaks the surface. Thankfully, my campground neighbors have turned down their loud music, and the hum of Route 9 is easy, hushing. I rode 25 miles today, climbed over 3,800 feet to around 11,200 feet above sea level, and my body and mind are beat tired, but grateful. Tomorrow and the next day, I’ll have more mountains to climb. All by myself.
And then I’ll rush home to my real wonderful life.
Now, for some images….
On the way back down, finally.
Colorado Trail, near Breckenridge–up Tiger Road, on the way to Georgia Pass. It was smooth and soft like buttah, as they say.
Campground pic–with my trusty old Subaru.