On a bike, fighting through the pandemic fog, with Silver Surfer’s help

Fall colors, Rio Grande, Albuquerque, New Mexico, October 2020

I barely have anything to say, so I ride my bike.

Last Thursday, I rode through my 5,000th mile of 2020, something I’ve never done before. Like much of 2020, there will need be an asterisk next to this accomplishment, but it felt good to take the morning off and ride. Cycling has become my refuge – masked, helmeted, clad in my construction worker reflective vest, with my crazy flashing lights and computer data collection systems. In the fog of the pandemic – I don’t have the disease itself, just the grey cloud of life that surrounds it – I have been largely unable to write beyond the most perfunctory of work. I “don’t have the brain share”, is my shorthand. To ride creates an inexorable structure for the mind to follow.

“And I shall be true to my trust, for as long as I live.”

So in the days leading up to Thursday’s ride I carefully mapped a route, picked up the necessary miles ahead of time, so I could pass my 5,000th mile on Albuquerque’s Central Avenue Bridge over the Rio Grande, my favorite of favorite spots. I came close, mile 4,999.9 at my river overlook, so far within the margin of error of the data as to be indistinguishable from my arbitrary arithmetic goal.

The route included my favorite bits of the city – both secret tunnels beneath the railroad tracks (one going, one coming), the stretch of gravel levee along the river’s west side, long stretches of old Route 66, the “Bandidos’ park” for one of Albuquerque’s great city views.

On the way home, I paid a visit that’s become a ritual nearly every ride since early summer – a visit to the Silver Surfer. The creation of @irotism and @release1201, Silver Surfer showed up in late June or early July, filling plywood space left by the boarding of downtown Albuquerque windows.

In our time of need, Silver Surfer has become a ritual comfort. I don’t really know Silver Surfer beyond the downtown paintings and a bit of reading on Wikipedia, but I imagine something helpful every time I visit.

My miles haven’t lifted the fog, but rather have created a safe space within it.

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