Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Racing shadows

I raced my shadow today. It seemed like we started on the east coast, as I left the office and turned the bike into the rain. But the rain was too cold and too spiteful and too thin, nipping at my shins in icy shards. This wasn’t Virginia, it didn’t sit right. So before I knew it we were in the Rockies. We’d raced straight over the plains of Kansas, flocks of black birds rising out of the corn as we whipped by, making the most of the glorious tailwind. I must have been going too fast to feel the damp heat of Missouri and Kentucky too, the languid pace of life lost in a quick rotation of the pedals. But I could feel the Rockies as the road grabbed at my tyres, forcing me to plunge the pedals downwards while the cold kissed my cheeks. The elevation was so high it took my breath away. We cycled softly and swiftly, dwarfed into silence by the landscape; the view too epic to comprehend with the small amount of time we had – you needed a lifetime. And then we were on again. We flew through Teton and Yellowstone, nervous on every bend lest we encountered some creature we couldn’t avoid. And then we backtracked through Wyoming when the headwind kicked in. But it was when we arrived at Lolo that we realised we had been here all along. The cold seeped through our Gore-Tex and set up home in our bones. The Lochsa never left our side, its raging water swollen by the rain. We called a truce there in Idaho, supping on tepid hot chocolate will a deep mist settled on the thick, knowing trees. A new day would dawn, a new race would end in a new truce.

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