Moab :: The Roads Less Traveled

In the past weeks, I’ve been reminded that just when you think you don’t have another moment/another thought/another emotion to spare, life will ask you to pony up. And so you’d better have a few extra of all those things in reserve for such an occasion. And if you don’t, you’re going to have to find them…somewhere.

I found mine on a road bike in Moab this past weekend. Yeah, I know that this place is fabled (and rightly so,) for its soul-searching shreds that connect you to the burning red slick rock and all mother nature’s mysterious ways. But as it turns out, it’s also pretty spectacular place to find that road to nowhere, that climb into a sapphire abyss, and that descent into the no-mans-land landscape of your own being. Also, rather good Thai food, but, I digress.

When the invitation came from Rapha to join them on this longest day a month or so back, I may have cocked my head to the side bewildered; the ask was to ride from sunrise to sunset in this desolate place that would surely run out of roads eventually….right?! And would we be able to carry enough food in our pockets for such an adventure? And at the same time, “where will my road will lead, now?”  “who will I  be spinning along the with,?” and “where does this journey end, and the next begin?”  I had anticipated that this ride was going to take a good bit from me, and that I would get back what I always do from my bike. Space. Simple renewal. And I did, but more poignantly I found that my questions literally fizzled away; the scenery and the feeling of those good good roads would feed us amply to power through many sunrise-to-sunset-cycles.

Before the sun came up on the day of our ride, we pedaled out of kitschy Moab and into the desert, and quickly found ourselves on roads without traffic. Without other human beings entirely. There weren’t water stops, or gas stations, or stop lights out here. There was the occasional ranch tucked in between massive rock formations, fields of horses galloping with us as we spun. There were snow-capped mountains for us to set our sights on, and slickrock formations to gape and point at as we went. As the cranks turned, silently along with the others, I began to spin out all that was in my legs, my heart. It was all so heavy at first; the weight of the day and what may lie next weighted me, particularly when I tried to jump up a little climb too quickly, or push too hard through the gusts of wind that eventually hit us as a storm rolled in. Jumping impulsively is rarely beneficial unless you really enjoy the fall. I realized I had ridden my edge for weeks and so I backed away, at last allowing my gaze to fall into the canyon below, instead of my feet. Instead of leaping off and into that canyon of whatever-happens-next that had called me, I let our bikes pull me back.

Once I did, biting off little bits and pieces of the day, of life in this moment, felt easier. The wide open blue skies offered me the extra moments to consider possibility, and to remember again that the limitations of “I can’t anymore,” and “I won’t anymore,” are all self established. As we climbed Round Mountain, I found myself determined to be happy — not only in the saddle, on that grinder climb — but in my life and in every moment I have under that limitless blue sky. We crossed the spine of the ridge and began the descent back into town as the gentle rain sprinkles turned to drinkable drops and then again to stabbing ice crystals that burned my cheeks, tears singing from my eyes. I cried out all the questions I had about my ability to endure; to do what it takes to get it right.

Rolling back into town, we found ourselves on tricky gravel descents in the Salt Flats. I’ve had a bit of practice learning to skid on a road bike in the past few weeks and this was no exception. Embracing the fact that I – every bit of me, and my machine – are in a skid in this moment was the task. And so I set out to make it look good, make it feel graceful. A smile, a laugh, and the occasional squeal of nerve helped and by the time the sun finally set I found myself looking out over an unknown and intimidating moonscape, knowing that I could tackle it all.

We spent the rest of the weekend spinning through the pristine landscape of Arches National Park, again with jaws agape and pointing at this and that as we rolled, laughing all the way. I found I’d marinated/digested/conjured/cast off all that extra weight in my legs and heart and was finally able to look up and appreciate the scenery for what it is; a beautiful mystery, crafted of time and the elements. When you look at life through this lens, it feels so simple and I suppose if we choose it to be, it is.

Some of my favorite images from the weekend are in the gallery below; in this case the best camera was the one I had in my pocket (my phone,) and so I was impressed with the sunscapes, laughs, and whirring wheel sounds, breezes in the wind and good good energy of these folks I’m lucky to roll with the lens was able to capture. Enjoy these, and all the moments. More soon. xoxo – L