After the organized frenzy of chores and route meeting in the morning, those who haven’t made previous arrangements already will begin to scout out people to ride with for the day. Lately, I have been riding alone a lot. I even earned the esteemed nickname “the lone she-wolf” by Ben. I value solitude, and tend to be more introspective and quiet than most. Interestingly enough, my alternate persona shimmies on the side of the road and challenges Jill to gobble-offs. Make of that what you will. I’m a pile of contradictions.
When you’re surrounded by 30 nutty people at all other hours of the day, it’s nice to get some time alone on the road. When I’m alone, I am more aware of how I carry myself, and how softly and intentionally I move upon the landscape. I am more aware of the patterns of life around me. The din of my doubts becomes superseded by the hush of the trees, the sound of sweet spring water rippling out of vividly-colored rocks, the peripheral view of a hawk flying over the mountain’s crests. I am gazing at that graceful buck instead of staring at someone’s back wheel.
But sometimes solitude turns into grim loneliness. In those moments, I realize just how lucky I am to be surrounded by my 30 nutty teammates. No matter how much I enjoy being alone, I am always grateful for the invitations, and the laughs and conversations that follow.
Early in the morning, en route to Gunnison, I bumped into May when she got a flat. I was having a sluggish day, and couldn’t seem to motivate myself to go faster than at a perambulatory pace. Luckily, May’s humor, energy, and amazing lung capacity was just what I needed to get through Monarch Pass. Talking about the world, our communities, and our inner selves, encouraged me to think in a different way while challenging me to put those thoughts into words. As I get to know more people on this trip at a deeper level, I am reminded, again and again, how good simple companionship can be.