A friends sent me Hardy’s poem ‘At Castle Boterel’ and this snippet seemed to match perfectly my riding of recent days wending through the Rockies.
‘Primaeval rocks form the road’s steep border,
And much have they faced there, first and last,
Of the transitory in Earth’s long order ;
But what they record in colour and cast
Is—that we two passed. ‘
A few days ago Hercules and I rode down out of the mountains that had silently shepherded us this way and that over the last few weeks. Or perhaps it was more the rivers that shepherded us, carving valleys through steep sided peaks, moving rocks and silt downstream. As we rolled along the Toad River keeping pace with flotsam keeping pace with us, I wondered at how amazing it would be to track a water molecule in it’s cycle from vapour to cloud to rain to ice or snow, maybe repeating bits of the cycle before it completes the full loop, into the rivers, out to sea etc etc…. To be a little camera inside a molecule of water would be fascinating. One heck of a ride.
And thus my mind is full of all sorts of wonderings in my wanderings and often nothings and somethings, too. Floating in or out Winnie the Pooh style in either contented emptiness or gentle awareness, mostly I love the contemplative meditative action of sitting and spinning the pedals. A wheeled mantra. If Chimpy is chatty then sometimes I can distract him by losing myself in that motion, focussing on pulling my knees up and around or trying to keep my torso perfectly still. Or on other days Chimpy just can’t help himself but chatters around, getting in the way, making each pedal push feel like a marathon.
Last week the pedalling definitely felt like a marathon. Not just the Rockies but some cheeky germs in my lungs, all piled in with the emotion of being poorly away from home and the elation at become an Aunt for the first time. Emotion and mountains and a chest infection, I realise, have tired me out somewhat. Apart from the infection, they have all inspired and excited me too and, I suppose, have got me through, up and over in one piece (relatively).
Snowy mountains, icy lakes and silver trees were striking. Haughty elk on the roadside were amusing and majestic at once and eerie at night when calling out to each other in a curious transistor radio style vocal. The silence of a white day and the gentle non thud of snow slooping down off branches with a feathery plop. The childish joy at crunching fresh-footed where no one else has been and the quiet rush of gratefulness at finding a pile of unused firewood ready to go at a camp ground. The heavy drag of feeling poorly, engine slowed in mind and body, each pedal efforting more than ten on a normal day. The brain freeze on whizzing downhill for mile after mile from the mountains, eyes wide open for ice patches, nose dripping snotiscles over the cross bar.
The grateful rush of having someone smilingly refuse payment for warm drinks and snacks. Screamingly cold toes. The excitement at melting snow for water over a night time fire for the first time, followed by humoured annoyance at then dropping my dinner (and water) on said fire. My tight-chested teeth-gritted fear of riding hills with drop offs. The longing for home aching in the emptiness of a hotel room. Spontaneous, humbling, warming kindness of strangers toward this oft-smelly, ragged-haired cyclist. The gentle comforting hug of a hot bath and the moment before the sleep fairies carry me away into slumber, muscles and mind stilled. Happy tears on meeting my first nephew over Skype. That is what this last week has been about.
Hercules and I are resting here in Fort Nelson for as many days as is needed before carrying on (somewhat cautiously) down the road, south for a few hundred miles before turning left at Calgary.
Until next time,
Sarah and Hercules x
P.S Thank you to everyone who has donated to the L2L Charities recently. You can follow suit by donating here.
P.P.S Thanks and thanks to all the lovely local folk who have helped me lately. Wendi Laing, Joey McKay, Sandy Williams, Pam & Jim Boyde, the staff at Toad River Lodge, Sonja Leverkus, Gillian Leverkus and Woodlands Inn.
P.P.P.S I was glad to see my recent blog on Canada’s Residential Schools provoked so many comments. Hopefully it adds a teeny bit to outsiders’ understanding of the struggles of aboriginal communities and the longevity of the trauma and its cyclical nature, if nothing else.
I love reading all of your blogs. Such honest feelings and wonderful descriptions of things. I’m glad the kindness of humankind is still smiling upon you. As you sometimes feel lonely in your tent or a motel room, think back to all the lives all over that you have touched! I am wishing for you and Hercules to recover well and to make great progress on the road!
Hang in there!!! Cheering for ya!!
Chris in Anchorage
You continue to inspire, Sarah. Safe travels to you!
Sarah, you have not become an aunt, you have become THE Aunt. One day your nephew/niece will look at you as the cool Aunt. Congratulations to your family with the new addition.
Rest well and recover well at Fort Nelson , Sarah . Best of luck on your journey . Love to you & Hercules.
Take it easy and rest up.
There is always tommorow or the next day.
Take care on the ice and safe cycling
Cheers from sunny Queensland
What’s in the jar? Looks like scrambled brain with unmentionables. Bet it’s yummy, though.
The most delicious soup ever — with ginger, brown rice, quinoa, sweet corn… It cured me!
Well mi’ duck – if we are now into the heady world of poetry:
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Through the iron frame of bike
Thus, though we cannot make our bear
Stand still, yet we will make him run.
Looking forward to each morning to see where you are and to read your tweets/blog makes rolling out of bed more exciting. Your adventure, what a heroic feat each mile you pedal, and oh the photos! They help to visualize your experience. They are very beautiful and artfully done. The adventures you are storing up will leave a little niece wide eyed and full of a desire to be as brave and intrepid as her beautiful auntie.
Thank you for speaking to the youth whenever the opportunity presents itself, you may never see the result but you have and will continue, to influence what one becomes.
From Ninilchik, be safe!
Take all the time you need! You will know when its time to start over…
This year i was riding trough yellowstone in june, believe me it was the coldest ride ever… My hands freezing like holding it in a fridge for day’s, my legs feel like deep frozen… Beside our roead there were white trees, snowy tiny roads, a lake looks like the north sea in december… But you know what ? At that time, believe me, i am remember that little animal you called “Tweedlede”… I was looking forward and at one time, hours later, i was reaching my campground and it seems like… Like coming home… Sorry, no other words for that, a warm welcome, a place to rest, like a room without a roof ( thanks pharell williams…) ! Sarah, i wish you all the best on your trip ! Take care !! Live your dream !! Andy ( sorry if my english is not the best…)
Your English is way better than my German! Your ride through Yellowstone sounds lovely, if not chilly. Happy days!
Hi Sarah, just saw the comment about heading down to Calgary and turning left, presumably heading via the TransCanada toward Winnipeg. You’ve probably already made your decisions and have plans in place, but your going the long way. Go through Saskatoon then Regina to the TransCanada and it will be much shorter, and is still good twinned highway all the way.Calgary is a nice city, but I wouldn’t cycle nearly 300km in winter to get there.
Aww…. it looks like, from the Sarah Tracker that your heading towards the Canada U.S. border. I was hoping for an update !