Bikes on Tour

We mount a bike rack on the trailer hitch of a borrowed mini-van. Shim it out with a couple strips of redwood—without which the fit is a little loose.

These first days are filled with drive. Hundreds upon hundreds of miles to cover, eight to ten hours at a stretch. Doesn't leave much time for extra-curricular activities, so we wake up early to ride up the mountain.

We trade in two hours of sleep for a view of the salt lake beyond the wide-avenued city of the Mormons. For a riverside sprint in downtown Denver.

We stay up late. While the others drink tequila and smoke weed in the Kansas City studio of an artist dedicated to painting 150 portraits in two weeks, we fly through empty intersections, chasing fatigue from straining muscles, hearts pounding blood through the darkness.

Moving through a place like this, you smell it. You never do this in a car, neither do you sacrifice something of yourself to the movement. It's a lovely exchange, this. Sweat and breath for the scent of a place.

The sense of smell is the only sense that bypasses traditional cognitive centers and works directly on the spheres of emotion and memory. An aroma rediscovered taps directly into the subconscious association systems. Without conscious interference. A vision may evoke a response, but it is through a cognitive chain of rational processes. A thing may remind us of a thing that looks like another thing. The color of a flower may be just the color of a hat that a lost lover wore on a particular occasion, but the scent of that flower may overwhelm you with the unbidden sensation of that lover's lips pressed to yours, the sun on your skin as you once kissed beneath the open sky in your grandmother's rose garden. Without the intervention of a word.

It's a mystical exchange. You give something of yourself to a place, and it gives something back. A part of it becomes a part of you, internal and integral. Some say this is the true nature of sacrifice: not the destruction of a thing, but the transformation of it's essential essence from one form to another.

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