Last weekend I made a trip down to one of my favorite states, Arizona. For once I was not traveling to race, but to support some of my friends at the 24 Hours Of Old Pueblo. I was looking forward to some warm sunshine, a bit of time off of work and to help Team GO kick some arse. It was a bit weird to be traveling so far and not be towing the line, burying myself to collect a another lap. The pressure was off which was kind of nice and I really didn’t feel all that great, the hot sun seemed to drive nails into my head.
It is always interesting to me to travel from the High Country of Colorado, our little bubble of recreational paradise, to within 100 miles of the US/Mexican border. On the way one travels through some rather bleak terrain. Burned out rolling hills of dry sun baked grass and wind blown dust. Distant crumpling mesas, barren rocky crags. I have made the trip to AZ several times, every time I am disturbed by the world between our little bubble and the warm sunny desert. People seemed down right broken. Living amongst broken lands, broken trucks, broken glass. To say it is sad is an understatement, yet frankly who am I to judge what is a good and reasonable existence?
Every time I make the trip I look out into that landscape and wonder. I gaze at the people, walking the highway, selling us gas and cold drinks, driving new cars from their plots of shattered glass, tumble weeds and dust. I wonder what hope and dreams exist in this huge expanse of our country. I see the dogs passed out in the hot sun, chain running from collar to stake, dust and wind the only thing that moves. Everything else simply passes by at 75 miles an hour on the rolling, bumpy road, eager to get to the next place. Billboards alternate between selling “Indian” souvenirs and begging drivers not to drink.
I absorb all this, I feel sadness in my heart. I wonder what elements make existence suffer able, worth while. At what point are we simply just existing? Instead of growing, reaching, striving, trying. I hope there is love out there, surely not for us white folk with our fancy bikes passing through without thought. Is there love of life? In the eyes of the people I see mostly anger, hate, bitterness. This thought, this quandary sticks with me for the weekend, always in the back of my head challenging my own ideals, my own thoughts of positive existence.
The race goes well. My team does amazing, especially considering we came from full on winter to full on desert. I am proud of my friends for the efforts they laid down out in the hot sun. It was quite fun to sit in camp on solo row and watch the whole race unfurl. It was even more satisfying to assist them in achieving their early season goals. Good People doing what they love and challenging themselves to do it better, it is great to be a witness to such dedication.
Sitting in 24 Hour Town it is unsettling to think of the two disparaging worlds clashing in my head. To think that here entrenched in the world of bike racing, where grams and seconds are counted, drivetrains and wheel sizes are debated, sometimes with great ferocity. Where a $6000 dollar bike is not that unusual. Yet not far away, spread out in all directions it is a much different existence in a slice of of our world that is frankly being forgotten and left behind. Altogether it makes for a strange world indeed.