We had been driven by mini-bus very high into the snow-covered Andes. The scenery was awe-inspiring. The mountains colossal, ancient, silent. And then I was handed a mountain bike and told to ride it. I hadn’t been on a bike in years. The road looked really steep, really winding, really, really long. But armed with helmet, gloves, elbow and knee-pads, and frankly no other way to get down other than turning chicken, this was what I was going to have to do.
I started off relatively slowly, not at all confident of my abilities on two wheels. The road was actually pretty good, very little traffic, level tarmac in the main, wide enough to take some lovely wide curves around the corners. I was getting into this! Time to add some music I thought. I stopped briefly and decided it would be nice to let the Universe pick the tune for this particular occasion. It came up with ‘Little Wing’ by Jimi Hendrix. There were other cyclists starting to pass me. A sudden and uncharacteristic flicker of competitiveness kicked in.
“I am going to catch you. I am going to surpass you. I am going to fly!”
For the full experience I really would recommend you take a listen. A beauty of a tune: Little Wing – Jimi Hendrix
And so, that is what I did. I flew. Occasionally with my legs splayed on either side of the bike’s frame, just because I could. With Jimi in my ears, the wind in my hair, barely registering the conversation between my wheels and the smooth and winding road down through the snow capped monuments. In this moment I felt absolute freedom, filled with childlike pleasure and wonder, released from all but the intensity of this place, this speeding bike, this tune.
I am blessed to have had a few of these sublime little moments on my travels (see my post ‘Tiny Perfect Moments – Whales’ for another). One of those incredibly rare pinpricks of perfection and beauty that seem to burn through the outer layers of the person you think you are, the reality of the world in which you live, the day-to-day experiences of being alive, breathing, being present. Akin to an out of body experience, feeling entirely removed from all these things, able to traverse the thin veil between you and heaven, a momentary, breath-taking bliss that feels immaculate in its simplicity and purity.
Later, after three hours of cycling and a descent of 2,000 metres through the Andes, I was buzzing, exhilarated, fully alive, having experienced a tiny perfect moment which will last me a lifetime. Thank you Jimi. It wouldn’t have been the same without you. Xxxx
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