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7 March 2013 No comments
Jason Childers Road Tests Our Panniers.Correspondence Friends Travel & Adventure Cycling
The bike is heavy and the pace is quick—driven by expressions of excited freedom and adventure. Months of anticipation and enthusiastic strategy is finally deployed into the unknown. A saturating realization of what I have just embarked on imbues every thought and translates into explosions of pedal cycles. The Southern Tier of the United States is stoically awaiting my progressive arrival. The only obligations I possess are finding the strength to complete this voyage and experiencing the wondrous phenomena which are literally in front of me. From the humble Florida town of De Leon Springs I race to the Atlantic ocean in Saint Augustine, Florida. I then cycle West across the soft, rolling, and moisture laden geography of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana before reaching the elephantine expanses of Texas. The projected distance of the Southern Tier is approximately 4,988 kilometres. Texas contributes over 1,700 of those increments. At times you surpass 150 kilometres between towns with populations of 8 to 18 and glimpse the enormity of this country in expanses of land possessing scales defying adequate description. Following the desert, the conditioning during the first 3,200 kilometres is tested when the mountains begin—reaching heights of over 2,500 metres while cresting Emory's Pass in New Mexico. In this region you are again tempted with an understanding of how much land is within this country. When entering Gila National Forest in New Mexico, you are awarded a glimpse of the 1.1 million hectare forest which is only the 6th largest in the country. One rarely uses the term “as far as the eye can see” in a literal capacity, but when cycling through the West, you often look out on endless features, and as your evolutionarily advanced optics reach their limit, the sun's angle reveals vast canyons with striking profiles. The sense of wonder is nigh unbearable—exploding emotions and acknowledgements of your finite existence with seemingly infinite possibilities. Arriving in Tempe, Arizona with only 660 kilometres before reaching the Pacific ocean, I decided to head North to the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park—a slight detour of over 900 kilometres. Upon reaching the first vista of the Grand Canyon, any lingering hesitation in my decision was extinguished. The comprehension of what I accomplished and risked was unnecessary in this time and space. My cognitive self was dismantled and I experienced a purity of simply being. The vastness of my self-awareness was only surpassed by the vastness in the spectacle of the Grand Canyon. From the Grand Canyon through Zion you are frequently requested by your surroundings to respect geographic time and change. Delightfully frustrated you pause every 100 metres to stop and foolishly attempt to capture the surroundings with a horribly ill-equipped photo gadget. Both my synaptic paths and the intangible space between are forever impregnated with these moments. After nearly two weeks of winter camping throughout these areas, I awoke with ice encrusted around my sleeping bag face-opening and water bottles as solid as the frozen earth I slept on. This concluded my Northern exploration and within 48 hours of leaving this area it snowed for several days. Returning to Tempe, Arizona I continued West. The next several days I slowly accepted I was no longer in the Grand Canyon and Zion, but this brief sadness was supplanted by excitement of the fast approaching California coast. The last climb of 1,100 metres in 16 kilometres was climaxed not only by the peaks, but also the plummeting temperature, penetrating 35km winds, and falling snow. As I began my decent towards the warm California coast, I briefly saw the skyline of San Diego—every substance and emotion I am trembled with frightening power—revealing the ineffable essence of this evolution. It is tragically ironic that many of us must deliberately disengage from our most consistent life events to experience an increased awareness of life. During this voyage, there is an unrelenting demand to recognize this tragedy and question why live without this freedom of experience regularly. This pure experience of capability strengthened a dedication to not neglect this recognition in life and to continue to induce moments of uncertainty and adventure. Jason's has more extensively documented his travels elsewhere. Equipment on his recent tour of the southern U.S. states included the Brooks B17 Select, Brooks Leather Bar Tape and of course, our Land's End and John O' Groats panniers.