Huh. I check the mirrors, then a long look along the verge to be sure there’s no risk of debris, I don’t need a puncture.
I let the throttle off, work my way down the gears, hearing the engine and road noise giving way to the nothing. Walking speed. Less. I can hear the crunch of loose chippings, the gravel at the edge of this endless road.
I squeeze the brake. Let my feet down off the pegs, my boots finding a confident grip on the ground, confirming she’s firm. My bike still balanced between my thighs.
I kill the ignition, ease the side stand out with my heal, turn the handlebars in, and let the bike lean her weight over and down into the road.
I hoist myself off the saddle. Remove my gloves. Unzip my jacket. With my finger and thumb pinched, I tug the foam plugs from my ears, and marvel at the absolute silence.
The engine and exhaust pink-pink their tiny tinny sounds as their heat stretched metals slowly cool and shrink, but otherwise there’s nothing.
I reach for my saddle bag and the bottle of water inside, shifting my weight as I move, the sound of my heals crunching on the gravel seeming so loud in the silence.
Slowly sipping my water and looking out over the unclaimed land I begin to detect the tinier sounds of the life that must be teeming out here. Crickets, field mice, snakes, birds and butterfly.
The air is still, there’s no breeze, and no crop for her whispering wind to tease or hassle. Just dry wild grasses, that seem to hiss with heat. I turn to look down the road and see it haze.
An illusion of standing water, a mirage, the tarmac sun scorched, the arid heat not so apparent when you’re moving fast, and creating a cool breeze.
I lean my backside against the side of my saddle and let the bike take her own weight as well as mine, I slip out of my jacket and allow myself a moment to breathe it all in.
Huh? Yeah, I remember. I catch my thoughts in conversation with my memories. The scent and the heat, the light and the silence, reminding me of a tight and twisting back road in the Spanish foot hills of Pamplona.
I’d pulled over and watched you wander down into an open green field, a hilltop farm, where the local labor had harvested golden bales of hay that lay about, as yet unclaimed, almost seeming to us abandoned at the end of a long Harvest season.
I watched you stand with your arms outstretched, set against the sky like a kite of blue and green, as if you were waiting to be caught and lifted away with the wind.
Rust red sneakers, blue denim jeans, and a green sleeveless tee, with that late summer Basque-country air, golden warm, and oh-so sweetly scented, with clover fields and olive orchards, that tender breeze billowing through your sun bleached brunette hair, and bringing us both a romance of riches.
You closed your eyes, and breathing it all in, declared: I love you.