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Fall Reflections - Time in the Void & Bikepacking Back Home

Hey friends, it's been a little while. I had anticipated publishing this much sooner, but it seems there have been greater plans for me. I started writing this reflection a couple of weeks ago and just recently realized why It has been so challenging to finish. For some time, I have been in a Void of Course. A period of time where everything is suddenly at a standstill, and anything you thought you knew or thought you were to do is seemingly irrelevant. Where you place your feet next feels uncertain because it’s as if you are floating in the big cosmic open space of the unknown. So you are driven to relax a little more, let go a little more, and really just be with not being anywhere at all. It's a time of tuning into the whispers in the wind and recalibrating to the path you are actually meant to take.

I was not sure how to articulate where I was until a few months ago, when someone I consider a good friend, a soul sister, first spoke to me about the idea of a Void of Course. Now, I recognize that I entered this space at the end of 2020, and have been in it or floating through it for the past year. It seems I relax into it a little more with each moment and keep getting to invite myself to let what will be, reveal itself in time. Surrendering to this void has been and continues to be life-changing. As part of this process, my faith and trust in the guidance being offered to me by the field becomes stronger. And I know, that as long as I am tuning in, turning inward, my actions will be in full alignment with my intentions.

Needless to say, this has been a very transformative season for me. While I have moved through time, I am very much still in this void. Of course, at this stage, some things are known, a few things are outlined, and I am gaining a clearer picture of the vision of my future moment by moment. I am definitely moving through a creative space and process, becoming clearer on my intentions and feeling the tension! So, I am going to keep being with this tension and moving through with guided heart-centered action. Maybe I will speak more about this in time, but for now, I'd like to shift gears a little and share an experience that helped me fall a little more freely into this void.

October was a big month for me and went by in the blink of an eye. Not only did I celebrate another successful trip around the sun, but at the end of the month, I traveled back home to Las Cruces, NM with my husband Polka, to participate in the Dangerbird. A Weekend - Week-long bikepacking experience and opportunity to ride the Monumental Loop; a 250-mile that can be biked or run (I Imagine you could walk it too if that's your style) and travels through the sacred lands of New Mexico visiting 5 of the Monuments in Dona Ana County; Doña Ana, The Robledos, Sierra de las Uvas, Oregon Mountain Peaks, and the Potrillos.

Before moving any further, I would like to acknowledge and honor that the original stewards of the land upon which the Monumental Loop takes place are the Tampachoa, Pescado, and Apache peoples. I respectfully acknowledge these peoples and the numerous tribal nations linked to this land. This land served as home, spiritual center, gathering place, and site of healing for many indigenous peoples before us, and will continue to do so for generations. In this acknowledgment of the original stewards, It has always been my intention to seek and maintain a sustainable relationship to the land on which we learn, live, and ride.

While the Monumental Loop is open all year, the Dangerbird normally takes place in the fall, which might I add is a really beautiful time of year and is often the beginning of really nice weather in Las Cruces. This yearly event is organized by a few devoted members of the Las Cruces Community, Matt Mason, Pablo Lopez, Angelica Rubio, and Collette Marie with help from Visit Las Cruces to produce the New Mexico Bikepacking Summit: Origins & Connections.

I have wanted to participate in this event the past couple of years, however, I always had one reason or another as to why I could not. But this year, as soon as the rumbles of the Dangerbird began I set my sights on making this dream a reality. The opportunity to participate in the event and ride the route with my husband and potentially friends from back home landed a few weeks after my 33rd birthday and only a short time before I complete my degree at the university. So I took this experience as a moment to celebrate the changes taking place in my life as well as to meditate on and make space for what is to come next.

As part of this event, my husband and I attended the Bikepacking Summit: Origins & Connections the day before the big ride began. Having grown up in Las Cruces, I care greatly about the local community, town, and surrounding land. I am grateful I was able to attend the Summit and be an observer to the speakers, conversations, and discussions that took place. The Summit was many things to me, though my greatest takeaway was how rooted in the community it was and the importance of spending time outside and reconnecting with nature. There was a definite call to create awareness around already existing programs to bring more children, youth, and families into the great NM outdoors. I was inspired by the speakers and the passion they held to introduce outlets so more people have the opportunity to spend time outside, immersed in nature.

The day after the Summit, the big ride began. Our plan was to ride around 50 miles each day and complete the route in five days with possibly a little additional sightseeing along the way. Of course, we had wiggle room and a few backup plans if needed. We never did use any of the backup plans and made it to our destination each evening - with minimal off-route exploring, but plenty of on-route, from the bike, sightseeing. Each one of the five days held a variety of surprises and plenty of opportunities to work with my thoughts and get out of my head and into the landscape. There were moments of this journey that required more willpower than others. There were moments that were more challenging than others. And there were many moments where the minutes melted away, and hours seemed to pass without much more passing through my mind other than a couple of affirmations of choice.

When I go on these longer endurance-type rides I try and remind myself of the turtle and that if I Be like the turtle, I will always reach the finish line. Remembering the turtle has helped me so many times in the past doing big day rides or endurance races and guided me again on this route. This is the message to take things slow, with consistent action, and enjoy the journey along the way. Something I love and appreciate about this kind of riding is the gift of spending hours on my bike, out in nature, mastering my mind just a little more as the miles move on. For me, the experience of traveling to a destination with only what you can carry on your bike is magical. And this particular opportunity to spend five days, moving my body and bicycle through space and time, visiting the desert land surrounding where I grew up, and enjoying some amazing local food along the way, was a beautiful blessing.

There were many so moments over the course of this trip that inspired me. Though, one of the things that I found the most inspiring was the gracious acts of the community, family, and friends. Not only did I experience the generosity and care of the community, but I also witnessed and heard stories of individuals supporting and helping others. In truth, I am not sure what I expected going into this ride, but I know a part of me believed that we would be far more on our own than we ever were. This bikepacking experience was anything but self-supported; Polka and I were so very blessed with various water, food, and mood fairies all along the way. We always had enough water to get where we were going (sometimes more than enough) and plenty of food to refuel. Not to mention family, friends, and community members looking out for us, making sure we made it home safely. This experience filled my heart with gratitude for all the amazing souls who organized the event, participated in the event, as well as those who just looked out for the riders.

I also want to honor all the people on the route. Polka and I had a slower time than many of the other riders. Some people finished in 3 or 4 days and one guy even did it in ~ 30 hours. With the 80+ riders that passed through before us, I can say that the riders made sure to take care of the land and to the best of their abilities Leave No Trace. We found very little left behind, though did end up with a few taillights and even an extra bandana - which we are certain was carried away by the wind. All in all, we made sure, just as the riders before that the land was well cared for and respected during our time on the route.

When our trip was over and it was time to return back home to Colorado and to daily life, I found myself in a strange space. All I wanted to do was bask in what was of my experience riding the Monumental Loop and stay in the slow-paced movement forward. At first, I thought I was just reacclimating to life as it is and processing my experience, but as the days moved on and the feeling didn't wear off I realized I am simply letting go of resistance and surrendering just a little more into the space of the unknown. So I am going to keep be-ing here, leaving space for any metamorphosis to continue, and taking the action I am guided to take.

Thanks for reading this my friends! Below are a few of my favorite pictures from our experience on the Monumental Loop. If bikepacking (or endurance trail running) is your thing, I definitely recommend giving this ride a try.

May your days be filled with love, joy, laughter, and gratitude.

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