A continent calls out. The arc of the earth beckons. I want to lose myself in distance and silence, in the slow passage of days across this Turtle Island. I am pulled to submerge myself in the struggle to pedal across this variegated land. I am not the first, not by far. Many have gone before and many will follow, but for each of us the journey is newly minted, a fresh river of effort and visions, a quest undertaken as if for the first time. To know others have gone before provides me with inspiration and the knowledge that, if I am mad, it is a madness shared with others. A drug--aye--that's it. We are drugged by movement and effort, by an ever-changing landscape that transforms our sense of home and time into the constant motion of now and now and now. The rolling strain of our muscles against the road is home. The sweat in our eyes and the grime on our faces is home. Since nothing is still in this universe, why should we pretend otherwise? Into the stream, lunatics!
This is a strange longing. Modern day penitents we are, chained to our bicycles to expatiate sins of lethargy and sloth, of ignorance. What other than a religious fervor drives us? When you see us on the road, burdened by bags heavy with gear, nothing to justify our struggles but vague romantic dreams, what do you think? Do you curse the fact that we occupy the road? Do you, somehow, wish you could join us? You could do worse than be a "swinger of birches," as Frost put it. What else is the long-distance cyclist but a child swinging from branches--on a continental scale? Swing on, brothers and sisters! Yelp your yawps to the heavens and scream in crazy joy down the mountain passes. In four billion years the sun will expand to toast this spinning rock, and then what will anything matter? No time for vast, slow empires, no time. You need no charger for this chariot. A sack full of food and foot to the pedals will take us where we need to go. Snag a dream with taut sinews and heave that unwilling carcass into the journey. What, like we've got something better to do?