Who knew there could be so much happening on the highway between Nakusp and Arrow Park?
The bikers are back for the summer season. I’m not talking about the leather-clad Harley/Norton/BMW-riding set, but their unplugged counterparts who cruise the winding highways at a much slower velocity: cyclists.
If there’s a siblinghood of bicyclists, then count me in. And if we are a family, we are a large and varied one. Although he may be my brother in cycling preference, Ryder Hesjedal and I are definitely not twinned spirits when it comes to pace. If he’s the hare, then I’m the snail.
Slow and steady is my preferred speed, and even though travelling along paved roads, the rate opens up the sights and sounds of the road’s surroundings (although my iPod supplies just the inspiration needed to hustle my butt uphill). Careening along at 80 kilometres-plus, the beauty of the grass that jumps up from a burning yellow base to many vigourous green points sprouting out to all directions.
There are the perplexing existential questions that poke up when confronted by shards of bottle glass: why? what for? is this fun?
Not for the cycling brethren, that’s for sure. Glass on the highway can punch a hole in an otherwise fun road trip, a deflating experience for sure. As appealing as sparkles can be, sharp glass on the shoulder isn’t a welcome sight on a bike.
There are other wayside artifacts, mostly anything that wasn’t tied down tightly enough to travel 100 km/h: half a floaty noodle, a pillow, a touque which has now ended up on a tree near Idler Road, random shoes, etc. Each item may have a story, but they are all silent now, abandoned by the roadside.
And of course there are the other more breathtaking sights of the Upper Arrow Lake, the sounds of birdcalls from the treetops, and the smells… A small deer still in its spotted youth, hit and road-killed, has been slowly decaying on the uphill highway side near Donnelly’s Road for a week now, another motivator to move quickly, to pass the stench.
Motivation comes in many surprising forms. Like finding a loose $20 bill among the empty Bud cans that dot the side of the highway. Yay! Or the indefatigable enthusiasm of some August long weekenders broken down on their way into town, unswerving in their aim to have a good time.
The small moments and details that make the way between this place and the next are easily missed if moving too fast (something I remind myself when I’m in a burning hurry somewhere), so why not try slowing down and appreciating the richness that surrounds us?
Try understanding the art of cycling, to paraphrase Thoreau: you won’t be disappointed.