The warm bead of sweat slithers down my spine in its straight cooling flow. There’s not a single nerve of protest between my shoulder blades as my skin finds comfort in this welcomed moisture. The steady rush of air streams past my ears in a gentle melody of movement. My calves bulge into tight balls beneath the knee and for the first time in my life I understand why thighs are called quads while all four defined muscles relax and contract in opposition of each other between the forward and rear push of my peddle strokes. It’s already 8:30 at night and I’ve done 155km today but my heart pounds on in a steady rhythm content of pushing on, it knows better than I. Hill after hill are conquered with nothing more than a simple downshift as if it were flat ground, they present no challenge anymore. I haven’t felt the shrill pain of pins and needles in my hands for days now, my ass is finally molded to my seat, a tough leathery skin welcomes the post for the 10th hour today. A smile grows upon my face in which I can’t control, this is it, two months and 3500km later I finally love the feeling of keeping pace into the late hours of the night. Nothing inside of me tells me to stop, I dread the moment the tyres seize to make their gentle whooshing whisper when my ride comes to an end that day. I want it and I like it, clear mind, fresh air, enjoyment, simple and pure. I’m no longer enduring these longs days but enjoying them, it took a while to find it but now that I have it I welcome it and all I can think about is waking up and getting back on the saddle. Like the 40th kilometer marker in a marathon, similar to the weightlessness of a 20kg pack 1 month into a hike or the millionth paddle stroke in a kayak, the mind is conquered and the body flaunts what it’s been holding back all this time. My mind is free and my breath is steady, my legs push on without me needing to tell them so, it took a while but this is it.
This.. is… Cycle ZEN.
I’m out of the prairies now, I’m out of the USA in which I have no plans to return on this journey, I’m into the isolated forests of Canada’s largest province and I love it. All the hard work throbbing up the mountains in B.C, the endless hours of scorching hot days across Alberta, the thousands of mosquito bites and freak hail storms summoned from Saskatchewan, and the merciless soul wrenching headwinds of Manitoba have all paid off as I find myself pushing out 150km to 200km a day and still finding time to go for naked swims, smelling the roses, and capturing the memories on my camera. I don’t get the hunger cravings that used to haunt my stomach. My skin is golden brown as its developed a natural deterrence against the sun. I’m fit, happy, and flying down the sealed roads edging my way closer to the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve summited the last hill dividing the water shed from the Arctic to the Atlantic, I’m still a long way but rivers are my friends now as we share a mutual destination. I passed yet my 4th time zone entering into Eastern Time, not quite Atlantic yet but I’ll envy anything providing the word east.
Two more weeks of crossing the mogul landscapes of northern Ontario as I circumnavigate the largest lake in the world and wind my way to Toronto where friends and family await my arrival. I feel like the hard yards are behind me as I have an incredibly scenic two weeks ahead of me before reaching so many friends I’ve been anticipating to see for so long. One leg at a time is the approach to conquering a journey like this and the only bit that remains unfamiliar is the next two weeks before reaching Toronto. From there those lands are mapped into my mind with small distances between friends and family all the way to Halifax N.S. A massive endeavor in itself but I’ve come far enough to let my fantasies and dreams run free as hope of reaching home replaces stubborn determination. Pain and determination come from being tough, hope comes from the heart and unlike determination, there is nothing in which can break hope.