Traveling long distances by bicycle is a humbling experience for me. I feel very small in the world as I labor along the roads, and I feel very vulnerable as well. Sometimes it seems I have more in common with the birds and deer living in these big landscapes than I do with the folks zooming along in trucks and cars. (Motorcyclists can be a sort of bridge species in the view from a bike seat.)
I try to cross this divide from my own kind by waving at lots of drivers as they pass. Many will raise a hand, or even just a finger from the steering wheel in greeting, and for an instant there is a connection. But overall I feel quite alone on the road. (Motorcyclists have a special set of hand greetings that I am trying to decipher.)
Arriving at a home to stay the night, meeting warm people, sharing experiences and honest questions; is very powerful on a journey like this one. The gratitude I feel is strangely deep and affecting. Besides the bike touring context, part of my reaction may be from living through this pandemic and savoring some real human connections. Finding kindred souls among strangers in these divisive political times is also a balm. Facing the anxieties of climate change together with these people builds a strong ally-ship.
One of the strongest lessons I received from biking across the country 30 years ago was just how excellent most of the people I met were. I think I've had some anxiety about how friendly people would be in this new era.
So far so good. Thanks.
I will have much to write about the things I've seen in the last day or so, but will stop here since I have to get up at about 4AM tomorrow to get a healthy head start on the tourists as I ride through Yellowstone on Labor Day. Wish me luck. I'm going to sleep in a new friend's camper with elk bugling from the nearby hills.