Thursday, July 1, 2010

Day 11: Mountain Home, ID, to Twin Falls, ID

Today's Mileage: 97
Average Speed: 14.0 mph
Max Speed: 33.9 mph
Average BPM: 128
Max BPM: 158
Calories Burned: 2540
Moving Time: 6:50
Blog & Ride Details

How do you put the immensity and grandeur of the land into words when even photos won't do it any true justice?

The sky out here is so big. So blue. So overwhelming. And the land - not at all intimidated by its enormity - stretches boldly to meet it. Just as you begin to feel like you are looking to the ends of the earth, your elementary school education reminds you that the horizon extends beyond what your eyes can see. And you feel small. Very small. Even smaller than I've ever felt standing in the middle of towering structures and congested crowds in New York City.

Out here - surrounded by vast, open beauty - it's easy to put the horrors of the world or memories of your worst experiences to the back of your mind - if only for a brief moment.

Within mere miles, the landscape evolves and your muscles and your bicycle gears must adapt. But with a firm grip on the handlebars and your legs pounding the pedals, you move forward with strength and confidence into the enormous spaces. And before your body can begin to strain from fatigue, your mind is already straining to take in all of the sights. Take everything in and memorize it, the way you might try to memorize your mother's hands or a lover's face.

I wish other people could feel moments the way I feel them. The way I capture a moment – an expression mid-sentence, eyes squinted in a laugh, a sideways look, a small achievement or a defining instant, an overall setting – whether it’s intense and intimate or casual and breezy. Maybe others do and just don’t share them out loud.

I don’t know what triggers me to take mental snapshots of my surroundings at any given time. I know that I do this most often when my friends are laughing. But other times, my albums of the cerebrum are unexpected. Like on an April evening in 2008, at a cocktail hour with coworkers in a restaurant on East 4th Street between Bowery and Lafayette, when everyone was chatting, laughing and reaching for more antipasti with wine glasses in hand. Suddenly I was unnoticeably quiet. Lightly smiling. Careful not to project my sentimental demeanor to my colleagues. Just watching and listening. And storing to memory.

Maybe my constantly changing landscapes as a military brat have made forgettable moments and random faces a staple in my memory so that reminiscent postures are familiar, proverbial. I could already feel myself, years away from that night. Older. Perhaps wiser. Maybe with wrinkles. No, wait. I can’t imagine myself with wrinkles yet. But I could feel myself in a future time, looking at my mental snapshot and remembering an easily forgettable moment when I was leaning against a heavy, dark oak table along an exposed brick wall, in a dimly-lit East Village restaurant, one arm crossed under my chest, the other elbow anchored at my side and propping my hand with a glass of red wine pressed under my chin. And I was looking at my New York life, the people in it, and thinking about how much I love it all.

Today, I didn't pause to take a photo of a lone, beautiful tree at the edge of a quiet farm road. It was almost out of place in the flat, sprawling scape. Nearly forgettable. But now it's etched in my memory, looking back at it briefly, as Andrew overtook my slowing pace. I turned my head forward and pedaled after him up a small hill and looked beyond him, toward the immensity and grandeur of the land, and I thought about the world I live in, the people around me, and how lucky I am to have existed in it all.

More images from Mountain Home to Twin Falls:

Click here to view my entire photo album of Day 11.

The Rider Leader's Official Report
Across America North:


Anonymous said...

Been following this blog for a while now, with the thoughts of doing a cross country bike tour is simmering in my head for when I turn 40 - and I just want to say thanks for putting it all down. It's inspiring and will be a resource for when I finally brave the trip. We do, indeed, live in a breathtakingly gorgeous country and seeing pictures like this and hearing stories of your comrades just drives it home even more. So much good out there. Happy to be along for the ride! ENJOY ENJOY!!!

Katie said...

awesome, KT! Love following you on your journey!!! :)

Katie said...

Thank you for your comment, and I absolutely hope that you are able to take on this challenge! I just wish everyone could be able to see what I've seen in just the first 11 days. Be sure to bring really low gears!

If you are interested in a fully-supported tour that will help you cycle across America as safely and as comfortably as relatively possible, you should consider America By Bicycle:

Monique D. said...

To view all this by bike has got to be magnificent... continue soaking it all in my dear :)