Holding my breath, I press send. Commit to attending the women’s event at the Trials Training Center. Feel equal parts excitement and terror. I’ve never seen trials riding in real life, but am intrigued. I love challenges and balancing on things, so it seems like a good fit. But still. I feel like I don’t have enough moto experience. Sure I’ve been riding since June, but only on Rufio. Aside from a brief lesson in Ecuador and the motorcycle license course, I’ve never really ridden a motorcycle. Oh well. I committed out of genuine excitement, so there’s no going back.
Opening the front door, I turn back immediately. Pull on a jacket to fight off the chilly day. Stick my headphones in and spend some time on the slackline. Back and forth. Up and down. Again and again. It takes me back to when I first learned to slackine a couple years ago in San Diego. Makes me excited to balance under the palm trees when we get south.
As usual, I over-optimistically budget my time, end up dashing around getting ready to leave. Throw sheets in the washer, haul gear to the garage. Stow everything in its place and triple check that I haven’t left anything behind.
Rick looks at the fresh tire we put on a couple days ago. Frets that it’s low. Adds air. Shows me how you can test for a leaky valve core with soapy water. Switches it out for a fresh one and hands me the other as a spare. Five minutes packed full of easily consumable knowledge. The type of thing that could take half a day to research, read and learn on my own. I smile. Give thanks for the community I’m finding across the continent. For the countless lessons given and received.
Bike packed, Baylor hops into place. I adjust his harness, pull his goggles in place. Laugh as Joyce hands me a to-go bag of cookies for him. Give Baylor one and tuck the rest into the nose of the sidecar.
Hugs exchanged, I thank them again.
It’s cold out. You could stay one more night.
I smile. Shake my head. Pull my helmet on and wave goodbye.
Merging onto the highway I feel a pang. A temptation to return to their warm and welcoming home. But I’ve enough practice departing at this point, know it’s just part of the deal. As John said,
When that time was over and the good-byes said, I had to go through the same lost loneliness all over again, and it was no less painful than at first. There seemed to be no cure for loneliness save only being alone.
Connecting with people always leads to an eventual moment of disconnecting. A stab of sadness to leave them behind. A burst of fear that nothing to come could be as good. The vagabond’s perpetual struggle.
Driving south, I remember various landmarks and roads from the day I climbed with Ken. Rolling down main street, I pull to the side, reference the interwebs for an office. Ride up to the tiny coffee shop and note that we’re basically on the college campus. Might as well take advantage of the proximity and stretch our legs. We meander along pathways, stand under the clock tower, check out the brick buildings. Chilly Sunday evening underway, we’ve the place mostly to ourselves. Seeing a trio of coeds up ahead, I wonder what they’re studying. Wonder even more if in ten years they’ll be doing anything remotely related to the degrees they’re now pursuing.
Baylor parked in front of the coffee shop, I pull open the heavy glass door. Snag a spot next to an outlet with a clear view of Baylor. Laptop open, I type in rapid fire bursts. Send my fingers into a flurry. Give them a break to sip the spicy local chai and extract thoughts from the deep recesses of my brain.
Light fading, I check the time. Looking at the weather, I pack up immediately. Rain is forecasted to move in soon.
Setting up camp in the rain isn’t so bad. Erecting our home in the dark is doable. Searching out a new dispersed camp in the forest is an adventure. But setting up in a dark downpour in a place we’ve never been to before? That’s pushing the limits of enjoyable even for me.
Adjusting my helmet, I laugh as the guy walking past does a double take. Looks back a third time and grins. Waves as we pass him. Gives me an enthusiastic thumbs up.
Pang fading, I smile. Drive in search of a home for the night.
149 days down. Many to come.