Day 43 Sunday, August 21 Helper to Spanish Forks, UT 63 miles
As I walked out of a convenience store this morning where I consumed a makeshift breakfast, I said to myself, “I have a bad feeling about today.” I sometimes wonder whether feelings like that are premonitions of what might take place or whether they are the colored lenses by which we see the events of the day. The fact of the matter is my premonition came true and it has become a gift to force me to slow down and get my psychological feet back under me again.
I left from Helper late in the morning glad to be putting the circumstances behind me that had put me in an annoying funk. I was uncertain of what the day would hold for me, but as I began the heat was already making me nervous. I knew I needed to move on from Helper, but I didn’t know if I was riding myself into a breaking point. I was told by a clerk to expect a climb for the first 25 miles where another convenience store would welcome me at the top. I had checked the altitude gain and was convinced that this climb would be much easier than yesterday’s and I would just need to be patient.
At the 10 mile point my premonition (if one believes in such things!) became reality. Suddenly something was catching in my front spokes and I immediately pulled off the road. I had severed a bolt that held on my right pannier and now it hung loose. Funny thing happened at that moment. I suddenly felt very grounded and secure. Something about being faced with a minor crisis seems to dismiss any unnecessary worries and get me focused on what is right before me. In spiritual circles we call that “being present in the moment”. The severed bolt and the loss of one pannier called me back into myself. Now I had something real to deal with!
I redistributed the contents of that bag into my rear panniers putting as much of the weight on the bottom as possible. As I took off again I was aware of how much my bike was wanting to shift to the left as I still had one full bag on the left front side. After a couple of miles I got used to the imbalance, but still noticed how unstable the bike felt at higher speeds. It wasn’t until I was about 10 miles from getting back to civilization that I realized how much strain the imbalance was creating. My left arm and shoulder began to ache from the subtle extra control needed on that side.
The gift came in the form of realizing that the goal for today was to get back to civilization where I could find a bike shop, hopefully, or a hardware store at the very least. I am staying in Spanish Forks, UT at a reasonably priced, clean motel that prides itself on running toilets! Being that it is Sunday I was not able to find a bike shop open so it forced me to slow down and allow my schedule to be determined by getting my bike back in working order. I won’t tackle (or even consider tackling) the Nevada desert until I have this remedied as I will need sturdy racks to carry extra water. I may leave tomorrow afternoon or I may take the full day and leave on Tuesday.
Even the short time I have had tonight in a safe, secure spot has helped me to gain some perspective and ease the disorientation I was feeling. The plan is to get my bike fixed and then not rush into any decisions about Nevada until I have really discerned what the risks are and what spiritual work I need to do in “the wilderness”. I do still feel it calling me, but I don’t want to enter it haphazardly and without a clear plan.
It’s strange that the early morning premonition about having a bad day was really off base. I did have a minor mechanical crisis. But, this crisis really acted as a stop sign to calm the anxiety that suddenly emerged in Helper and got me focused again on what is right before me. Speaking of what was right before me I keep trying to find new words to describe the stunning the scenery once again. I have now been in six of the eight states that I will visit and each one displays a unique form of natural beauty that just fills my soul. I have never been one who likes to slow down a good cycling rhythm for a picture, but I have not been able to resist having pictures to share with others and have reminders of this tremendous trip and pilgrimage.
For now a pause to refresh and restore bike, body and mind. This is as it should be.