Where in the World?

Where in the world is Waldo, aka Justin the Steely Thighed Biker, aka Justin the Cheating, Car-driving, Pudding Thighed Biker of Yesteryear?

Since I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco under cloudy and drizzly skies three weeks ago I have seen towering skyscapers and towering snow drifts; I have been reminded of the power of flight – both through the air as well as across the ground in fossil fuel powered automobiles – and the power of friends and family on a shaky and road weary soul. My trip has continued to take me across the lands to great places, but lately it has not involved the effort of endless hours on the bike.

I was taken into a wonderfully hip, urban house/loft in San Francisco’s North Beach for my few days in town. Being warm, dry and comfortable was everything I had remembered. The skies cleared for my first two days in town which gave me the freedom to walk the congested city with my camera and curiosity. On the 3rd day the weather patterns of the west coast, the one’s that seemed to be chained to my back wheel and had kept me wet and moderately miserable for most of my west coast ride, came roaring in to drench all of California in record moisture. During the deluge I sat looking out the window with a huge genuine grin, sometimes even venturing out for some time with friends and little concern for returning soaked. Things always dried by the next morning. I was also suprised to find that I was overwhelmed with the complexity of the city and urban life. San Francisco seems made up of an infinite number of pockets and communities, pockets within communities, and pockets of communities within the city. All urban environments are the same in this respect, yet Seattle was pleasant and San Fran. chaotic. Of course the most obvious reason for this disparate reaction to each place was what I brought in with me. Seattle was a pleasant stop on a wonderful trip, and San Fran. was salvation at the end of a dark tunnel. For all the relief that came with it, I still shrouded San Fran. with my own uncertainty and disjointed view of the world and my journey across it.

Those emotions and shaky attitudes about the trip have been mentioned before, so suffice it to say that they were the reason for my vacation from my extended vacation. I flew to Colorado for the holidays to see my mom and boyfriend, grandparents, sister and boyfriend, and the rest of the Colorado extended family. It was what the doctor ordered, everything that is except the guilt I felt when I traveled 600 air miles to Denver then jumped in car to cruise the 75 miles south to my mom’s house in Colorado Springs. Forgetting about the flight, it was a shock to think that I would be hard-pressed to make just the Denver Airport to Colorado Springs trip in a long day on the bike. Like all good family holidays I was soon swept up in food and drink and soon forgot about my guilty feelings about how I arrived in Colorado. Which was good because about the same time I arrived in Colorado I started hatching plans to get to Bozeman for New Years to visit dozens of friends. In addition to the dozens of friends still in town dutifully skiing the cold smoke in sub-zero temps, there were dozens more also on their way to town for New Years celebrations. My doctor didn’t expressly state that I needed two vacations from my extended bike vacation, but I was able to read between the lines. It might not hurt that my doctor (unofficially, and not yet even legally a doctor) was also the person I stayed with in San Fran. and would, herself, also be in Bozeman for New Years.

My co-conspirator for the Bozeman trip was Rois, who lives in Boulder but was at home in Maine for xmas. After repeated delays out of blizzard ravaged Boston, she did finally make it to Boulder at 4am, a mere 3 hrs before we hit the road for the 11 hr drive to Bozeman. Fortunately, all the weather luck that I had on the west coast and Rois had on the East Coast stayed clear for most of our daunting drive through the cold and windy plains. We arrived in Bozeman to fresh snow and a huge gathering of friends. My time on a bike over the last couple of months has separated me from the normal habits I had developed in Bozeman, such as; getting a deep red glint in the eye when discussing ski plans for the mounting powder day over beverages at the brewery, and ignoring the -10 degree temps to go roll around in the snow on the ice playing broom-ball. I also forgot that regular biking has softened up my ability to take regular falls, like those I often engage in while tele-marking at Bridger or defensively lunging myself at the ball in a friendly, but heated, game of broom-ball. I still am unable to set my left elbow on a hard surface, but I don’t think that will have any effect on my biking.

Due to a whirlwind of gatherings and friendly faces the trip seemed hasty and short. Yet, I recognized that Bozeman seems to be proceeding along just fine without me. The snow still falls and my friends keep tracking up all that glorious powder. Never more true than when I found myself walking home New Years Eve by myself. Definitely the sign of a great night, with to much too much to do and too many people to see. In an effort to squeeze every last drop out of a wonderful night with friends, I inadvertently squeezed through all of my friends and found myself confused, cold and on my own. A more than familiar feeling lately, and it makes me recognize that maybe I am a little more overzealous than I care to admit.

We closed out our Bozeman time with a giant gathering at Aleworks saying our congrats to friends with newborns and friends expecting, hearing stories from travels to distant lands, and plotting future reunions. Our route home went through Jackson; notable for the epic amount of snowfall they have received this year, and the live bluegrass band I enjoyed that night with a college buddy. The drive out of Jackson was a winter wonderland, just like the rest of my time in Montana and Wyoming. It was cold, white and perfectly clear. It wasn’t until that morning that I remembered the pull of the mountains with their peaceful winter purity, and gleaming summer skies. It brings out the best in people, turning everyone into your friend.

My vacation from vacation is coming to a needed close, as I am getting eager to get back on the bike. I return to San Francisco tomorrow to ride a wave of wonderful weather down the California coast. I will be stopping somewhere in Southern California for an extended break to come back to Colorado and make some money to fund the remainder of my trip to Argentina. At that time I will also be making another quick trip to Bozeman for an opening of my photography exhibit at Sola Cafe on February 4th at 4:30. All this involves a lot more travel and time off the bike than I originally anticipated, but it makes me feel like this trip is becoming a part of my life instead of my life a part of this trip; a recognition that has brought me great calm.

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