A Few Notes:

—These entries have been posted in reverse order to preserve their chronology when viewed on blogspot.
—Some of my live Twitter updates and various text messages have been incorporated into my original travel notes.
—Some entries have been redacted, though I have made an effort to preserve coherence (when originally present).
—Pictures will be posted.

Leaving Today

On the Road: We gotta go Sal, and not stop going til we get there. Where we going? I don’t know, but we gotta go! Ready for some fun? 0.0
This is not a complete account. It’s not meant to be. Sometimes it’s enough, sometimes it’s better, just to live life.

“I pictured myself…with all the gang, and in their eyes I would be strange and ragged and like the Prophet who has walked across the land to bring the dark Word, and the only Word I had was ‘Wow!’”—On the Road

Day 1

PDX 09286.2
Burley, ID 09896.9
610.7 miles

Crawled off the bike and into an expensive but nice Best Western. If anyone wants to give me a massage I’ll be in the Starlite Lounge.

I didn’t feel any fatigue during the riding. Tiredness, sure, but no more than during any other day, brought on by lack of sleep, sunlight, and lack of coffee. But as soon as I had a place to sleep and knew I wasn’t moving the bike til morning, all the aches and pains and fatigue materialized. I could barely walk straight to get from my room to the restaurant, I was suddenly so light-headed.
     At times it seemed like regular riding, just longer. At other times, it seemed more like long-haul road trips from my past, taken in a car (I kept thinking that I recognized spots along I-84, then realized that I did not).
     I finally relaxed in Idaho. I felt a loosening after more than 300 miles into the trip.
     Listening to Metallica (“Fuel”, “The Call of Ktulu”) while climbing a curvy pss—it was just fucking cool.
     At other times, I felt, a little bit, the exceptionality of the situation—all of a sudden I smiled widely, laughed, glanced at the landscape, kicked it up another few mph, put my hand on the tank, and sang along to the Foo Fighters.
     Once, I seemed to try to verbalize the specialness; I noticed the landscape (Idaho), the music (the Foos), the road, the bike, the wind, the shadows, and I told myself, This is my whole world at this moment, (I can’t possibly care about anything else), nothing else matters at all right now.
     I don’t think I believed it—I never do believe me when I have to explain me to myself—but the visceral reactions and intakes before the intellectualizing screamed Fuck Yeah.

I didn’t think about the bugs, or the wrist pain. Tomorrow, I’ll do a full wrap on my hands. My ass—so sore.

I got apprehensive, and felt tired and lazy, whenever I thought about crossing the same roads on my way back from New York. I told myself not to think about it; I told myself it’ll be worth it.
     Maybe the first day is premature for judgement, but—so far, it’s worth it.

Sleep well—-5 AM wake-up call.

Day 2

Burley, ID 09896.9
Denver, CO 10569.4
672.5 miles

Leg 1 Done
Portland, OR
Denver, CO
1283.2 miles

I beat the big long desert of Wyoming and finished the first leg.

The question arose—why the hell am I doing this?
     It’s easy to come up with answers—reasons—justifications—after the fact, but that’s not the same as knowing the reason.
     So why am I doing this?
     Hell if I know.
     And the first day is too soon to judge the merit of a thing. I’ll have to wait, to see the whole thing, wait til it’s over, to be able to say if it was worth it. I don’t yet know the costs, nor the outcome.

Things never go as planned. But maybe one day they’ll go as hoped.

Day 3 - Rest, Vacation, Life, Denver

No riding today. Denver. I haven’t been on the bike for more than 12 hours, but part of my ass is still numb. Weird.
     Right now, I’m on vacation time.

Every so often I do something because I don’t think I can do it.
     Sitting in a cafĂ© today, almost 24 hours off the bike, I thought of the miles behind me, and I thought of the miles ahead, and the soreness of my bones, and the tiredness of my head, and it sounded an Herculean task, just to go, to make it, to consider going back. I didn’t think I could make it.
     Which is why I’ll do it.
     I don’t know why I started—it seemed like the thing to do, I suppose—but now I have a reason to go on. A flimsly, poorly-thought-out reason that has nothing to do with what lies at any of destinations, but sometimes any reason can be a good enough reason. So call it an excuse.
     I like to push myself. As I’ve said before, in other places, I’ve tried to push myself to my limits, but I couldn’t—I never found my limits.

Day 4

Denver, CO 10569.4
Burlington, CO 10736.0
166.6 miles
Tow to McCook, NE (148 miles)

I tried to prepare myself for the big long nothing of Kansas. But Kansas wasn’t coming. I kept waiting to cross the border, but Colorado just wouldn’t fucking end. It was already boring as hell, and I hadn’t even gotten to the vastness of Kansas.      The landscape is quite beautiful—abandoned farmhouses, rolling hills of green and brown, the simple, minimalist lines of road, horizon, and sky, the sun filtering through the clouds in rays of darkness against the day—but the wonder is short-lived. It’s a fifteen-second loop that ceases to hold interest once you realize you’re seeing the same thing over again.
     For a ten- or fifteen-mile stretch I saw no traffic going my direction. Lacking turns in the road, I gently weaved across both lanes, letting the sounds in my head, good and painful, fill the gray blue of the wind noise.

I filled up in Limon, 89 miles out, had a talk with a Harley rider who admired my bike. He said the Shadow, in his opinion, was the best bike ever designed. They’re bulletproof, can ride ‘em to shit and back and they’ll keep going.
     I kept on. Knowing my options were limited on this route—interstate travel wasn’t really designed with 100-mile tanks in mind—I stopped for gas at 80 miles in Burlington, CO, still wondering where the damn border was.
     I finished filling up, and…nothing. The bike didn’t start.
     The starter button stuck in and did nothing. Cursing the phasing-out of kick-starts, I wheeled into a parking spot. The electrics were on, thankfully, except for the starter and headlight, unfortunately. I took apart the starter, figured I was out of my depth, and asked the clerk if there were any motorcycle mechanics in town. No, but he suggested one place (one of the mechanics has a motorcycle…).
     Mile and a half down the road, no, try this other place. Another half-mile. Got a broken bike. Bike? …motorcycle. No. Back to the bike in the heat, call for a tow, to the nearest Honda dealership. Which is in Nebraska. So, change of plans, apparently: I’m getting towed from Nowhere, Colorado to Nowhere, Nebraska.

Get the tow, get the bike into the shop, get on-the-road priority, get a ride to a shitty motel, throw my gear down, make coffee, chain-smoke, call a few friends.
     I call my Dad for directions for tomorrow for a revised route, and go to the bar.
     I talked to a friend before the tow arrived—he raised the question, “Are all adventures only adventures in retrospect? Aren’t they all just a pain in the ass while they’re happening?”
     Breakdowns, dive bars, Nebraska, struggling to understand anything, accept or crazy, fuck. New York maybe Friday, plans, good, hope.
     It’s a cheesy, pop-psych line of thought, but thinking that the trip is bad will only make it worse. But my problem with pop-psychology was always that it conflicts with reality (and it relies on self-conditioning: 100,000 repetions equal one truth). Such long hard riding is not that enjoyable—maybe I’m better for shorter rides, why deny my nature?—boredom, adversity...Adversity makes us stronger? Maybe more tolerant, but if I already know and like what kind of a life I prefer, why test it? Why do I test myself? The only reason I can think I’m doing this is…just to do it? To push and test myself? I don’t know. For fun. When I think about how emotionally masochistic I am, a great deal more makes sense.
     I briefly talked to my brother—If you already knew what was going to happen, why would you go? His suggestion, go to a dive bar, have a shot and a beer, and try to experience something.
     What would it take for me to experience something anymore? I get my enjoyment from being torn apart by music, from conversation with people I care about, from creating—manifesting the contents of my mind—and, apparently, from emotional pain.
     Hope. I will continue to praise and curse Hope.
     Beauty. My utmost enjoyment comes from Beauty.
     Anything else, I feel I have to continue to push myself, my limits, and—most dangerously—my circumstances.
     But what the hell happened to me? I used to say I thrive on change. I think I believed it. I think I still believe that. But I get into difficulty, under various circumstances, and all I want is to be home, alone, in my bed, gathering what little comfort there is in my house. I live simply, spartanly. I live in my head, not in my house. So why would traveling have become difficult for me? It’s as though I actually became the introverted hermit loner homebody I always thought I was (and still do) and made myself out to be, and any deviation is taken as an affront.

I sometimes struggle to remember why I used to like what I did.

The Harley rider in Limon—this guy was on his way from Fairbanks, Alaska, back home to Alabama, and I got the impression that he made trips like that at least once a year: “The first day, I’m tired. The second day, I’m angry. The third day, I’m horny, daydreaming about my bed at home. The fourth day is okay, the fifth day I don’t care, and after that it’s fun.”

Seriously though—what the fuck am I doing here?

Day 5

McCook, NE 10736.0
West Branch, IA 11292.9
556.9 miles

When did shitty motels get so expensive? Kind of a shitty motel here; decided to take non-removable saddlebag off the bike for the night.

I had a 5 AM wake-up call and an alarm set. I woke at 7. Anyway, the shop probably wouldn’t open until 8, so I had breakfast and started (re-)reading On the Road.
     At 9:30 I got the call, the bike’s done. The starter button had been replaced, and I hit the road at 10, a two-lane highway with a 65 limit, a very nice ride.
     I got really tired after a while on the freeway. I took off the headphones, better—I think the music is too loud, more fatiguing.
     Pushed on, I wanted to get as many miles in as possible.
     Iowa City, night’s fallen town’s full up. Pushed on, night riding. Brights—well, bright—turned on. A shitty motel, dinner at McDonald’s, 550 miles. Pretty good distance, especially considering the late start.

The riding was easier today, but my left ass cheek is still completely numb.

Day 6

West Branch, IA 11292.9
Youngstown, OH 11898.7
605.8 miles

The moon is red tonight. I find it very soothing, though my arms are too shaky to get a good photo.

No music today, I wanted to try it. Since I have to turn the music so loud just to hear it, it must be destroying my hearing. Without music, my fatigue levels fluctuated about the same, but it was quieter, less distracting. I’ll probably listen to music a bit in Pennsylvania tomorrow but I’ll definitely have it off by the time I get close to the city, in the evening sometime—450, 500 miles left (easy day, right?).
     The riding is definitely easier, I can more easily push myself and ignore my aches and bruises.
     My overall mood until late afternoon was anger. I don’t know why, I was just kinda pissed off all day. The shitty motels, the shitty food and sleep, the riding—this is a lot of riding—and special today the shitty highways. Interstate 25 from Fort Collins to Denver was bad. Every state has had bad stretches. But Indiana—really bumpy. The whole state. I had my left hand off the controls for one I didn’t see coming—it’s hard to tell the difference between cracks and cracks with bumps—it was nearly a very bad situation. Experience, instinct, whatever, kicked in, had a fast reaction, my hand shot out and straightened the handlebar before the front wheel hit ground.
     Ohio was a bit bumpy, but far less severe than Indiana, and more consistent. Still, when I pulled into town tonight I heard a grinding noise from the rear when accelerating. But only when accelerating—what could that be? Hopefully it’ll diminish tomorrow, touch wood.
     I wanted a short(er) day tomorrow, so I kept pushing it til 600 today. I got a late start again, and didn’t roll until 8:30. I did a bit of night riding, but traffic was slow, better. Plus I only had to go one further exit to find a motel room.

I knew I’d be okay—I saw on the map that I-80 goes near NYC; I figured, okay, there’ll be signs. There was a sign as far back as 20 miles into Ohio, three states away.

I need to get acupuncture or a deep tissue massage in New York or Portland. I think I might be losing feeling in my right ass cheek now, too.

I couldn’t clear my head today. Every so often a song would rush in, I’d sing the few bars I could remember from favorite songs, and then the cacophony of thought would take over. It just made me angrier than I felt already, that my head was such a boring, noisy clatter with no focus or energy or anything redeeming. I just kept riding. A friend thinks I’m hitting my stride. I think he’s right.

I’m tired of this food, this riding—so much riding—all of this.

Day 7

Youngstown, OH 11898.7
Brooklyn, NY 12306.9
408.2 miles

Leg 2 Done
Denver, CO
Brooklyn, NY
1737.5 miles
3020.7 miles East

I don’t know what the fuck that was all about, but I’m in New York.

Day 9

I don’t miss New York. Being here does not make me miss this place. It’s just pandemonium. Too many people, cars, buildings, everything. It’s a consumptive capital of chaos that makes me miss Denver, Portland, and the road. With a helmet on, I’m physically confined in my own world. In New York I have to force it. To go from the white noise isolation of the bike and the road to New York City—too much.
     It’s been fun though, one of the most enjoyable parts of the trip. People said, A weekend in New York, that’s cool. Eventually I stopped caring, completely, that I would be in New York. All I wanted was to park my bike and spend time with my friend.
     The closer I got to the city, riding in New Jersey, the more dangerous it got, until I made it into the city. By far the most dangerous riding I’ve ever done. I nearly collapsed after I got out of the Lincoln Tunnel. The concentrated heat and fumes of a million cars, in all my riding gear. I parked and finished what water I had left; it’s just too much.

I’m not looking forward to the ride back, all the way across the country, one shot, but I am looking forward to riding outside of New York City.

Too many thoughts, too much…a lot. Too much.
But I’ll just keep going forward.

No real riding today, tooled around the courtyard, 0.1 miles teaching Axel to ride.
     Need some sleep. Hitting the wheels again in the morning, Portland.

Day 10

Brooklyn, NY 12307.0
Youngstown, OH 12739.8
432.8 miles

I don’t really want to go, but I don’t want to stay, either.

Had a relaxed morning, drank coffee and talked. I left about 11:30. When I was planning the trip, I had figured I’d do about 4 or 500 miles a day; I’ve been hitting 600 regularly, so now I have some time, I don’t have to do 600 miles every day. But I probably will.
     I got caught in the rain in Pennsylvania. I had stopped to put my sunglasses in a bag, use the toilet, and may as well top off the tank—and I saw lightning. One advantage of riding from East to West is that most weather in America is going the opposite direction: I’ll blow right through this storm in about 5 minutes, I could even see blue sky behind it. As soon as I pulled on the freeway it started raining. I slowed down for traction. Then it really started raining. Avoiding semis, my high beam on, riding slow for safety, I hit the first exit looking for anything with an overhang. Right off the freeway was an abandoned gas station. Perfect, then I could stay as long as I wanted without worrying about traffic or loitering. I settled in, took some pictures, and waited for the storm to pass.
     Strangely, I was cheered after this break. I felt like I had gone swimming, I was cold and wet, but all of a sudden I had a burst of energy and was in good spiritis. Still, considering my temperature after the deluge and the setting sun, I decided not to press on.
     Stopped in Youngstown, Ohio and got a room at the same crappy motel I stayed at last time I was in this town.
     Same towns, same route—obviously there’s some comfort in familiarity, but how dull.

I plan on using some of my extra time to stop every so often and take a picture or two. For some time now (even before the trip) I’ve been relying less on pictures, and just trying to remember, just keeping my life to myself, abstaining from documenting everything (though my reasons are a discussion for a different time).

The grinding noise has not abated. I’ll check my oil in the morning, but I’m concerned that the sound’s coming from the gear box. If I can find a Honda dealer anytime soon then I’ll get it checked out. I don’t really want my transmission—or anything else—going out and having another breakdown. I’d rather go on my own.

I looked into taking a train for part of the way back, but apparently Amtrak only has motorcycle carriage from Virginia to Florida. I have no idea why.
     As far as taking a train part of the way and not riding the whole way, I thought, I know that I could do it. Who else do I need to prove it to, and prove what? Hanging out in New York, not riding, having fun, was one of the best parts so far. It seemed like, with the whole thing, something was missing. Do I really need to be so masochistic and ascetic? Still? Haven’t I learned yet?
     It doesn’t matter.

I decided to take I-80 to I-84; I thought about taking I-90, but I’m nervous about going through Montana with a 100-mile tank. And I-90 looked to have a lot more North-South action than I needed to do.

I got on the freeway going east today. I had to go 6 miles for the nearest exit (not too far bad) and made a really fucking stupid traffic maneuver getting back on heading west. My head clearly wasn’t on the riding—dangerous. Stupid and fucking dangerous and I got lucky. I re-focused, remembered everything I was taught and have learned and experienced, and remembered to ride as though there’s no such thing as luck.

At dinner the waiter asked if I’m from around here—every so often in restaurants or bars, people have asked me out of the blue if I’m from around here. We talked a bit about my trip, then he asked, “Was it a bet?” I laughed and said it would make more sense if it had been.
     Burger and a beer, then dry out warm up and sleep. Before I left the motel room I turned the heat up to 80. I need my boots and jeans to be dry by morning.
     And press on.

I want to stop talking.

Day 11

Youngstown, OH 12739.8
Grinnell, IA 13436.7
696.9 miles

When I was heading east through Nebraska, I took a bird in the ribs. The thing swooped right at me. It felt like I got punched in the ribs. I swerved a bit, yelled What the hell was that?, and checked the mirror—the bird looked pretty woozy.

I checked my oil in the morning before I left, it was a bit low. I went to a motorcycle shop across town (Youngstown), got some oil when they opened at 9. Filled it up and hit the road. The grinding sound didn’t stop. I figured the oil would take a little while to work through the engine, but still no good. Tomorrow I’ll find a Honda dealer in Des Moines and try to get them to take a look at it.

Good riding today. It started out on kind of a bad foot—after getting on the freeway after the motorcycle shop, there was road working during some interchanges, and somehow I eneded up on the wrong freeway, I-76 instead of I-80. I made the time up. The first half of the day was okay, about normal. But once I got past the usual early-afternoon tiredness, I felt great.
     I stopped talking.
     I realized that I hadn’t been talking to myself for about an hour. The noise in my head kept up, though it was quieter; songs took over. When I stopped, I felt I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t even open my mouth. It felt great.

I didn’t feel like stopping. I did almost 700 miles and wanted to keep going, but it just got too dark.

The best things, I don’t photograph. The sight of the road stretching out in front of me, hills rolling by, cars silhouetted against the pink and orange sunset as I glance down, the road disappearing past my foot—frightening, beautiful, exciting, calming. The feeling of flying. The thought that at the top of the next hill, I’ll just lift off, away.

Day 12

Grinnell, IA 13436.7
Ogallala, NE 13987.7
551 miles

Hit the road about 8, 8:30, even though I got out of bed at 6. What’d I do for 2 hours? Checked the oil again, it was fine. I stopped in Des Moines to get it looked at. I called Honda Rider’s Club, they could only find a phone number for me. I called it, got the address, at the other end of town. I didn’t think Honda [Motorcycle] Rider’s Club would give me the info for a Honda car shop, so I didn’t even think to ask. Except for the towing service, Honda Rider’s Club has proven themselves useless to me. I never did get the trip routing info I requested [note: when I got back to my apartment in Portland, the Trip Planning packet was waiting for me in my stack of mail].
     A salesman at the Honda car dealership gave me the address for the Honda motorcycle shop. As soon as they heard the sound, three guys said it was the chain. I got it adjusted and lubricated, 10 bucks, 15 minutes.
     Though it probably has its charms, Des Moines isn’t much to look at.

My energy was majorly flagging, so I stopped 20 miles west of Lincoln to take a nap on a plastic bench at a gas station. I didn’t set an alarm, so my 15-20 minute catnap lasted almost an hour. I didn’t think I had even fully fallen asleep, I was surprised. It was that daylight-hours hallucinatory feverish sleep. I still got some rest though, so back on the road.

Never pass a semi truck on the right. They’re not looking for you there. Even if he’s not getting out of the left late, just wait for him.

Nebraska is big. I was hoping to make Wyoming today, maybe Cheyenne, but it seems unlikely. I’m stopped for rain about 150 miles from the western border, loitering at a gas station with eating tables. My bike is parked by the pumps, out of the way and dry.

The distance was non-linear today. I lost a lot of miles tooling around Des Moines. I’ve got 530 miles so far today, but not all of them headed west. Thankfully Nebraska has a 75 mph speed limit, I’m making up time going 80-85.

The rain’s getting worse. I want to ride more before giving in and getting a room at the Day’s Inn attached to the gas station. It’s getting dark now too. I wonder how far the next town is.

No music on the way back west. All of Leg 3, just using earplugs. I lost a little rubber bit on one of the headphones, so now they’re pretty much useless for riding. I have replacements at Portland, but that doesn’t help at all. Anyway, the music was too loud, I hate to think of the possible hearing damage. The noise is bad even with earplugs. When I stop riding, it’s hard to be in a silent room—the noise from my head is roaring. Air conditioners seem to be at the same frequency though, and they sort of cancel it out. Now, without music, I’m curious if I’ll eve get some quiet. My head, my mind, won’t stop. The closest I’ve gotten is memory of songs, playing by themselves, and almost nothing. But it doesn’t last, and my thoughts go wild again. I was hoping for meditation, but I got Times Square. I want to just listen to the wind, and see the road, and nothing.

When I say that the journey is important, for me that really means the traveling. Not the people I meet or the places I stop (the waiter the other night asked if I had “seen a lot, like attractions.” I was too tired to explain myself, so I acquiesced). The movement, the visions, the sounds, the going. Motion.
     There’s very little relaxing about any of this. I know that’s because of me.

I was told that the next town was about 20 miles away. I went outside to take some pictures, heard birds chirping. Fuck it, hit it.
     The rain stopped after a couple miles. Absolutely beautiful sunset. I felt great, wanted to keep going. Hell, getting dark, going slow, rest early. Maybe I’ll actually rise early tomorrow. Call it early.

My rain gear—Coleman camping rain set, made of PVC, about $10 at Target—not for motorcycle use.
     The first time I put them on, I gave it about 30 miles before the heat from my pipes disintegrated them. The wind tore apart the left leg in less than 20 miles, in-town riding. I wore them again tonight, now the right leg’s gone. Maybe I’ll get lucky and it won’t rain the rest of the way back.
     Thinking about the ride back is still daunting. Including this state, I’ve still got 5 states to go.
     Why’s Nebraska so big? Why’s America so big?

Sometimes I think—okay, often I think this—that it’d be nice to be an underdog. To have an opportunity to prove people wrong, to prove myself wrong, to show that I could do it, damnit. Instead I’m in the position of everyone believing strongly in me. I’ve got the duty of fulfilling expectations, including my own. Which is also nice, I suppose. I do have love and support this way.

This is the first holiday I’ve had that will require physical recovery.

Now I’m at a shitty Mexican restaurant drinking a strong margarita. The gas station deli sandwich was enough, for food. ¡Ole!
     …and I am now the only customer in the joint. ¡Caramba!

Day 13

Ogallala, NE 13987.7
Burley, ID 14743.0
755.3 miles

I had an east-facing motel room, so I woke up fairly easily, from the sunrise—and by telling myself that if I hurry, I’ll be in Portland tomorrow night.
     I hit the road about 7, 7:30. All day I kept worrying that I was about to run out of gas. My mileage was terrible. Wyoming has scary cross-winds. Balls in my throat, throat on the gas tank to cut down wind, blow you across the road scary. The western half of the state was okay, though. Today the first 300 miles were good, the fourth 100 miles were terrible. Rain delay, winds. My crappy rain gear is now almost entirely duct tape.
     I made good time was I got past Little America, Wyoming. I started filling up at about 60-70 miles; I didn’t want to get stranded.
     I wanted to make 700 miles today, to get down to 600 for tomorrow. I’m back in Burley, Idaho. I went about 750 miles today, and I’m feeling scarily strong, considering.
     Sunset was beautiful. The sun dropping behind a mountain, a lone mountain among flat ground. The sun dropped, I cruised on easily.
     I’m looking forward to getting back to Portland.

In days past on this trip, I’ve felt quite alone. This is rare for one like me, who chooses to be alone most of the time. Today, as I was going through Wyoming and Utah, I had the thought, “I am alone.” I realized that, on this trip, I am alone. I thought, I’m alone. There’s nobody out here with me. It’s just me.
     It was a good feeling.


Day 14

Burley, ID 14743.0
Portland, OR 15339.8
596.8 miles

Leg 3 Done
Brooklyn, NY
Portland, OR
3032.8 miles

Total miles: 6053.5

Almost 600 miles back—easy ride. Anticipation leads to excitement, which easily translates potential energy into the fuel of kinetic energy.
     Just go.
     The miles flew.
     I stopped at a town in the Oregon desert to get my chain re-lubed.
     I kept getting gas every 50 miles, worried that there wouldn’t be towns. I realized that I could get gas every 50 miles, there’s no problem, roll it.
     Through the Columbia Gorge, ridiculous headwind. Wyoming has cross-winds covered, the gorge has headwind to call its own. Tough riding, but finally beared down and pushed it, so close. Well, I guess, why should the last hundred miles be easy?

My pants are covered in bugs from about 14 states.

I’m a little worse for the wear—but probably better, too.

When I was in the desert in Utah and Idaho, the late sun gleaming off the bike, making shadows on the road, my own shadow trailing me to my right, then in my rearview, I could step out of my head for a moment, could watch myself, and I appreciated that it was I who was there.

And then I was there. Back in Portland. Rolled to the bar I went to the night before my departure. Back where I started from.
     And then I was there.
Even if nobody asked, even if there were no one to tell about it, if it were just me, on my bike--to do it is better than not to do it. To have done it is better than not to have done it.

I never really did figure out why I did this. And I didn't really learn anything. But maybe it doesn't matter. Whatever it was, maybe it's enough.
     I'm a little bruised, a little battered, but I'm not beaten.