My Hózhó Bicycle Tour

Bryce Canyon, Utah

Climate Change—
It’s been a long time coming.
It’ll be a long time here.
If we don’t heed Mother Nature’s tears.

This morning the NY Times (9/29/21) was an article based on US officials reporting the extinction of 20 species and that, if Climate Change is not acted on soon, we are looking at losing another million in the near, on-rushing future!

Hózhó is a Diné (Navajo) concept/word often translated as “balance and beauty,” but it goes much deeper than that. Hózhó stands at the heart of the Navajo spiritual belief system and way of living, encompassing their cosmic view of life, Nature, and what is important in life. It also stands at the heart of my 2022 bicycle tour or, more humbly, what I am shooting for: beauty, balance, and harmony.

On a more complex, deeper level, Hózhó is a concept about harmony and wellness. Its “beauty” is not the surface stuff of our Western, W.E.I.R.D., culture. Its beauty encompasses all of life in its many dimensions as a way of living. Navajo art strives for hózhó: balance, harmony, beauty. It is a philosophy and way of living of wellness and wholeness.1 Among other things, Hózhó is about honoring Mother Nature’s tears, about Nature’s wellness.

My goal for my upcoming September 2022 tour, is for it to be a Hózhó journey: One of balance, harmony, beauty, and wellness. I will, I’m sure, have trouble remembering this as I bust my ass getting up the many mountains, through the strong headwinds, and bad weather. This tour for me is above all a spiritual adventure, and probably my last great adventure. This is especially true of the first third of the journey, some thousand miles, through sacred American Indian canyon country of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.

I plan on spending a couple of days at least at each of the canyons, which include, Zion, Bryce, Glen, Valley of the Gods, Canyons of the Ancients, Canyon de Chelly, and Chaco; and numerous National and State parks and monuments. This is pretty much unseen territory for me and would make the tour just to complete this portion down to Silver City, NM. This is the ancient (and current) country of the Anasazi, Navajo, and Pueblo.

Geographically, my tour can be divided into three major sections, each of about one-thousand miles. Whew, and on a bicycle too! The first third, as mentioned above, will be through Sacred Canyon country of Utah, the four corners part of CO, New Mexico; the second, through my great native state of Texas beginning in El Paso and through the desert mountain of the . Texas is a BIG state. I’ve crossed it many times during my lifetime but that was in car, plane, or on my Harley, not on a fucking bicycle! (I’ve got to be going crazy in my old age, no? Possibly.) The last third leg is through LA, MS, AL, and FL. Again, driven the SC through Dallas, TX, portion many times, but on a bicycle? Yikes! I’m scaring myself here. Let’s move on.

Me with my e-bike and trailer

I am still caught in a quandary, which I’ve commented on in earlier posts, about taking my e-bike (pictured above) or my touring bike. I would rather just take my touring bike and not have to worry about finding a place to plug it in to recharge it. Those places can be few and far between in the Canyon and Texas desert portions of the trip. On the Western Express portion there are two 125 mi stretches with no place to charge the bike (below). And, out in the Chihuahuan Desert section of Texas, a couple of 75 mile sections like that. The e-bike has a published range of 150 miles. However, fully loaded and with me, I am only counting on 75-85 miles, based on others’ experiences with e-bikes. I can peddle it just fine without the pedal-assist, but it is a heavier bike and has a smaller range of gears compared to the touring bike.

Western Express section

Yesterday I did another training ride into Clemson, my longest yet at 32 miles, with an average speed of 9.8mph. This was on my e-bike though. I’d just done a long ride into Clemson two days before and knew my body had not yet recovered enough to do it on my touring bike. Boy, was I right! My recovery time for doing these longer rides is improving, but I really needed another day recovery time before doing that even longer ride. The e-bike made it possible, but it was still tough. On the tour I’ll be doing such long-ride days back-to-back, even longer as I’m shooting for 50 mile days.

The touring bike is a more comfortable and built specifically for touring. However, when I factor in high altitude that will take me a week or more to adapt to, the many mountain climbs I’ll be making on that Canyon portion, the strong headwinds out West I’ll be driving into at times, and my age (74 by then), the pedal-assist on the e-bike would be a lifesaver, maybe literally. It also enables me to cover more miles per day when I want to.

Right now, I am training on my touring bike as I build up my stamina, endurance, cardiopulmonary, and body. After January 2022, or that spring/summer, I may switch my training to the e-bike, but not the use the pedal-assist. This training is hard on an old man!

Footnotes

  1. Kahn-John, M. (Diné). 2015. Global Adv Health Med. 2015;4(3):24-30. DOI: 10.7453/gahmj.2015.044

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