Subject: Wander series epilog and end
Date: Thu, 07 Oct 1999 17:36:44 -0700
Three hours. Two hundred miles. Gas, pee, go. Repeat.
A day of long distance riding is intensely personal
because of the constancy of what I will call its immersive isolation. Being in
the flow of the river of traffic, yet being careful to avoid the eddies and the
backwaters draws a mental energy that becomes attuned to the hum of the
road roar around you. Different sizes and shapes of tires make
distinctive sounds that tell and sometimes warn of a ripple in the
river. Engines whisper at the speed of the flow, but they too offer
hints of currents in the river. The wind itself is a signal of
disturbances in the flow. All of this presents images to the senses,
images into which a wise rider learns to "zone".
Riding in the zone is being in a mental state of distractional non-concentration. It is a complacency to the normal flow of the river around you, without concentrating on the distractions in the river. Yet it is the distractions which almost subliminally attract the necessary attention of analysis and avoidance. The zone is very peaceful. For me it presents a continuity of thoughtlessness - meaning not having to think rather than being without thought.
So it is that I could travel for an entire day and have
essentially nothing to say. This final day of this trip started with my back to
the border with too little distance from home to break into two days, and
too much distance to make a side road exploration ... (but I did it
anyway :). 550 miles is not a significant amount ... but it is enough to
close the sense of time-to-wander and open the "zone".
3 hours, 200 miles, I5 (yes, pretty but ugh). San Ysidro through San Diego through Los Angeles to Frazier Park just over the Techachapi summit. Here, like the sparkling nugget that started the California gold rush when stubbed by a toe, lay a gem of discovery that led to a rush through golden hills of the Sierra Madre Range. This treasure of the Sierra Madre is my new favorite "new" road, Cuddy Canyon Road - Mil Potrero Highway - Cerro Noroeste Road from Frazier Park to CA33. Although it shows on some maps as 'surface not indicated' it is freshly paved and graded. Rising and falling several thousand feet across two ridges and their valleys, it offers exquisite views of the central San Joaquin from the top of the Grapevine. This then left me to cross the coastal Panza Range on CA58, a road with 70 mph straight-aways and 15 mph corners. 3 hours, 150 miles of anything but "zone" riding!
Then zone home again. US101, 3 hours, 200 miles. Frizzle
(fog drizzle) and temperatures in the 60s when only yesterday it was 107 a
thousand miles away. Another trip is done; another story is told. But
ending this one feels like the closing of a door. Traveling the slow
road and telling a story every night has been a challenge which I've
enjoyed, but the story has been for me to find myself as much as to
share experience. And I think now after 14,000 miles of daily reports in
three trips this year I find in myself a sense of completion.
I will take other trips. I will Wander again. I may occasionally write about it. Long distance days and long dialogues are difficult companions, but the "zone" calls to me. I hope you'll understand ... The Ride is the reason.
552 miles, 9:02 hours
3,008 miles total
Sam Lepore, San Francisco
© 1997, 1999