Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The News from Lost River

“I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news”
John Muir

Riding a bike in Hardy County, West Virginia as we do every Spring for us city folk is an attempt to step away from the "trivial world of men." Truth is, the often overwhelming smell of chicken shit (and possibly chemical spills) tends to return the mind to that trivia.  Chicken feces certainly qualifying, in the scheme of things, as trivial.

Then there is the mind itself, which sits in the flow of trivia: the current time, the temperature, the state of the beltway, the cost of gas, the matter of Crimea, whether one package of diapers is enough.

Some of the trivia of our riding: in three days 186.7 miles, 19,996 feet of climbing at an average speed of 14.1mph.  No precipitation, with temperature between 34 and 62 degrees and wind from 2-22mph.

At night we drank scotch or rum and tonics and stood around a fire.
M. Floro, picture
 We toasted a future in which, some day, our sons and daughters might join us around the fire.
M. Floro, picture
In the mornings we drank coffee and poured buttery scrambled eggs and oatmeal into paper bowls and watched each other hobble up from sleep, marveling at how we ached from the last day's climbs.
We worried about each other on the debris-strewn descents and snuck peeks at the sublime brown ridges and green ghosts of new growth and evergreens below, with the dirty receding snow.
 At the gas stations we tested our stomachs on $2.69 pepperoni rolls.
And we talked about a young man who suffered more than a man should: coming out of a coma only to endure a heart attack and a diagnosis of leukemia.  Such implausible, malevolent Job-like burdening.

We talked about enlightened states, about the Muscle hating riding professionally and how he won professional races, about how a bike messenger built a place in the mountains for city folks like us--to break away from the trivial world of men and learn the news.
What is the news from Lost River?  From Falls Ridge, Hillbilly Express Trucking, from Jim's & Judy's Upholstery, from 1-800 Bunkbed, from Spring Run Farm & Poultry and the next-door Mountain of Faith Ministries?

For a moment when you are at mile 60 on the empty valley roads and the wind stops blowing the smell of chickens, you cease coming up with things to say to your companions.  The sun warms you and you remove your arm warmers.  A bald eagle stands in the middle of a field, his white head undeniably bald.  You are breathing hard, but not painfully.  You are glad the lube you dropped in your pedal this morning fixed the creaking and all is quiet as you turn over the crank.

The young men who have put in the training attack and leave you, as you left them once, when you were fit.  But you are fine with them going.  You can sit and listen to you and the world spinning round.

Men still finding precious days, tucked into pockets of calm in rugged creases of earth, both worn by time--that's the news I came to hear.

Previous posts on Lost River:
2012 and 2012.


dj cyclone said...

Pappy's doing it.

In it. Having the it envelope....
Having it become the all.

Dark to light to sound to silence with no travel there can be no contrast. Of the mind or the physical. You got to move in one way or another. In any way you can. Even if it is the only way you can. In order to step back. In order to stand.

Inside the motion the shapes define. Taking the hard edges. Absorbing the flux. For that moment. When the contours glimmer, and the textures radiate life.

PJ said...

I don't type words so good but I'm still thinking about that weekend too, mayn.

Kevin Cross said...

Thanks, fellas. See ya'uns in the Fall out yonder.