Trip Log – Day 201 – Casa Grande, AZ to Tucson, AZ

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 8.56.09 PMJanuary 15, 2016 – Cloudy, 60 degrees

Miles Today: 62

Miles to Date: 10,351

States to Date: 26

IMG_5415A chilly, grey morning lingered into a chilly grey day. Twelve miles on I came to Eloy, a desolate place with a near-empty Main Street. All the action was at Food Town, where bakers and stockers and cashiers all chatted with the customers. Despite having a full breakfast, I tanked up on mango yogurt, a banana and a pair of Mexican Sweetbreads. I could add a bumper sticker to my bike: I stop for Panaderia.

Outside of town I connected with the I-10 frontage road. Despite traffic whizzing past 100 yards away, the road was my solitary space, a straight and steady rise with the wind in my face for 32 miles. This situation connects me with the Zen, the yoga of cycling. For the first few miles I push against the reality that for the next few hours I have nothing to do but pedal. I shift in my saddle and check my odometer’s every click. My mind calculates and recalculates. How far have I gone? When will I get to the Exit 244? I invent games to pass the time.

IMG_5419 IMG_5420

At some point the mental gymnastics dissipate. I resign myself to pedaling. Nothing changes. The mountain in the distance remains fixed and unattainable. The landscape is too big to register my slow progress. The wind is too steady for me to feel its variation. The grade is too slight to discern any rise or fall.

Finally, out of that space where nothing changes, I stop thinking about time or progress. Everything becomes hyper alive; the smallest wind shift, the shallowest pavement dip. The immovable distance I must cross vanishes. The struggle of time passing evaporates. I simply breathe where I am.

IMG_5422Long stretches are perfect for singing. My repertoire is triggered by whatever passes; a car, a sign, a bird. I come to Red Rock, which is nothing more than a stretch of railroad and rudimentary interchange. Immediately I recall Song for Martin by Judy Collins. It begins, “In Red Rock Arizona he lived for many years alone…” It’s been twenty years or more since I sang the fragile poem of a not-quite friend’s suicide. But lyrics stick to memory like oatmeal to our gut; I remembered every line. The song resonates even more haunting rolling across this blank expanse where so many years ago someone Judy wished she knew better took his final breath.

imgresThe wind, the slope, the landscape, and my mood all turn around in Marana, Tucson’s northwestern exurb. My steady climb becomes a gentle decline. The wind shifts from my head to my tail. The frontage road is littered with offbeat stores and construction yards. My spirits lighten as I approach my destination. At Twin Peaks Road I shift to the The Loop, Tucson’s extensive bicycle ring path. I’m released from the Interstate’s throb. I ride a wide paved path lined with Ironweed and Mesquite, scrub cactus and sharp rock until I reach my destination.

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About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am a writer, architect, cyclist and father from Cambridge, MA. My primary blog, theawkwardpose.com is an archive of all my published writing. The title refers to a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity. The objective is balance without stability. My writing addresses opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. During 2015-2106 I am cycling through all 48 mainland United States and asking the question "How will we live tomorrow?" That journey is chronicled in a dedicated blog, www.howwillwelivetomorrw.com, that includes personal writing related to my adventure as well as others' responses to my question. Thank you for visiting.
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