Phew, what a ride. I’m back in Vermont after a truly unbelievable journey on the Oregon Outback. The memories, images and sensations from my five days on the road are still trickling in as my mental functioning slowly returns to pre-ride levels. The road-weariness is dissipating, the saddle sores are healing and the aches are fading as my comprehension of what really happened out there starts to improve. Even now, after looking through the hundreds of pictures and revisiting the maps of the route, I’m not really sure how I made it.
Despite all my preambling about what this ride would mean and represent, when it came time to actually do the darn thing I was completely unable to read significance into events as they unfolded. The ultra-simplified mindset of travelling by bicycle through the desert (making forward progress, seeking food, water, shelter) combined with the mental and physical exhaustion that ebbed and flowed throughout the ride left very little energy for extraneous tasks. All available resources were fully dedicated and committed to the task at hand. Nothing was spared. By the time Jason and I made it back to Portland from the Outback finish through brutal Columbia Gorge headwinds, every stick of fuel had been burned and we rolled into town feeling strangely corpse-like but also intensely alive. I was as completely worn out and depleted as I’ve ever been but still riding some kind of freaky road high that kept me going long enough to polish off a bacon and avocado cheeseburger and a couple of pints before crashing for a good 12-hour sleep.
Looking back, the Outback was an amazing ride that introduced me to some beautiful country, pushed me well beyond my preconceived limits, reinforced my deep love of western high-desert landscapes, reminded me of the value of friendship, wore me down, spit me out and left me wanting more. Now that I’m back in the world of responsibility I can’t help but start daydreaming about the roads and trails outside of our home-to-be in Boise and looking forward to the next adventure, whatever it may take us.
I’m slowly sorting through the mass of photos I took on the ride so keep an eye on my flickr page for those. For the gear nerds, I’ll also be posting a first-impression of the Reactor USB charger from Sinewave Cycles that powered my electronics on the ride.
Thanks for reading and keep pedaling!