Sunday, 21 October 2012

Glued to our Groove

"The white line in the middle of the highway unrolled and hugged our front left tyre as if glued to our groove" - Jack Kerouac

Lungs aching, legs burning, I bent my head to the wind-driven rain and raced through the city. I was late. Last minute events had conspired to free me of previous obligations and I was suddenly able to u-turn on my decision to decline Odd's earlier invitation to join him on a fast and furious overnighter on the bikes. But I had misjudged how long it would take me to get ready and Odd had to take shelter from the weather inside the bike and kayak shop that was to be our rendezvous. 

The Saturday afternoon rain was supposed to clear away as the day wore on but the sky disagreed. We took the direct bike path out of the city, trying our best to hold a conversation as cars hissed past on magic carpets of heavy spray. When traffic on our journey dictated that we fall into single-file we were forced to bathe in each other's rooster tails, standing water leaping up from our tyres.

Turning off the main drag we rolled along an undulating back road, the shiny grey ribbon winding through a golden landscape bedecked in silver droplets. The foliage is still full of colour but it's diminishing with every windy day and cruel frost. Soon only the skeletal braches will remain.

When the tarmac ran out we continued on gravel. Puddles here too, just as wet as those on the road, but with added sediment to add a splash of colour to our drab rain gear. We forded a river on our bikes, past a family camped on it's shore, just as surprised to see us on this cool, wet weekend, as we were they.

We found a secluded corner of the island and searched for pitches that were a little drier than the rest. Odd rigged up his tarp with his Fargo as support while I retreated to the palatial SL3. As night joined the rain in it's falling we brewed hot drinks and filling dinners. Odd came and sat under my shelter and we talked the evening away, sharing chocolate and whiskey, listening to water run it's course in every form outside. The rain, the river, the mountain streams on the rock face above.

I awoke in the morning to the heavy patter of real rain on the fly. I could also smell last nights pasta carbonara and tuned the red LED of my headtorch on. Sitting on it's haunches, oblivious to my presence, a tiny mouse was tucking into the remnants of last nights supper. I watched the little fella help himself, filling up before a tough winter ahead, as the grey dawn took it's sweet, late autumnal time.

Odd followed my lead in firing up the Jetboil and coffee freely flowed. We didn't dawdle in the morning and stuffed damp, soggy camp gear into bike bags. We recrossed the river, last nights rain adding depth and a moment of hub-deep mild panic to our crossing. Odd took the lead on the way home, linking some quieter, leaf splattered bike paths together. We stopped at a rare beast in Norway, a shop open on a Sunday. Sadly no fresh baked goods but plenty of sugary snacks.

We parted company nearer the city. I shook Odd's hand and thanked him for the invitation and inspiration to get out for my second bikepacking trip in two weeks. I'm in the groove.

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