“Hours slide by like minutes. The accumulated clutter of day-to-day existence — the lapses of conscience, the unpaid bills, the bungled opportunities, the dust under the couch, the inescapable prison of your genes — all of it is temporarily forgotten, crowded from your thoughts by an overpowering clarity of purpose and by the seriousness of the task at hand” – Krakauer
The Cuillins, Skye, Canon 5d2, 16-25L
With your head kissing the mirror, your foot pushing down on the opposite peg and a throttle hand that is driving you low round a sweeping corner, time doesn’t exist. Pure concentration, switching weight from one bend to another, completely there in the moment in a sea of swirling tarmac, grass and rushing air. It lasts both a second and a lifetime – that sweet spot of total control and then the straight comes, you loosen your right hand and you grin.
Time then starts again.
It’s at the point of slingshotting around the outside line of a corner, dead on the outside line, your body moving without thinking, the bike singing as the rubber grips the tarmac that all reality fades away and you’re left with the serenity of total concentration. There is no stress at that point – no worries about mortgages, jobs, families. The same exists when you’re ploughing through gravel or mud, up on the pegs, working hard to stay somewhat vertical, every split second is another judgment call, another push on the left or right peg to avoid something that’s 50 feet away but heading straight for you.
Skye, near Loch Corruisk, Canon 5d2, 16-35L
Skye was one of the two standouts of the trip and I spent several days there, riding every road I could find and exploring a few nooks and crannies off the beaten track. I was fortunate to be there out of season – the roads were empty and the campsite had the grand total of 3 tents and 2 motorhomes. Judging by the reports on the news over the Summer it gets very busy….people were asked not to go to Skye because it was ‘full’
There are two long loops around Skye – named the North and the South loops rather unsurprisingly. Both offer stunning views and glorious roads with long straights and sweeping curves. The island is dominated by the Cuillins range which can be seen from just about everywhere but the best views are from the centre of the island near where the north and south loops connect. There’s a good pub there too with a warm welcome and an impressive range of whiskeys.
Skye, North of Portree, can’t recall exactly where, Canon 5d2, 16-35L
I spent three glorious days on Skye – riding all day long, basking in temperatures in the low 20’s and cooking food at my tent after a few pints at the local pub. I think it was the second evening as I sat on the grass outside my tent, my legs splayed out to relieve the comforting ache from 12 hours of riding and walking that I drifted off into nothingness. Watching the orange glow of the sun shroud the Cuillins before casting long red fingers of warmth across the island in a vain effort to push back the onset of night. It’s at that moment, that exact moment between day and night when the world goes quiet and for a brief moment, nothingness prevails. Like the fast corners, the rugged trails and those moments on top of mountains and deep in the woods, that sense of nothingness and complete peace.
For me, those moments are special and when I’m not experiencing it I find myself planning how I can get my next ‘fix’
Skye, Canon 5d2, 16-35L, North Eastern Coast
It’s amazing how we so easily lose track of our happy place as we plough through the humdrum of day to day life. Deep down inside we know what makes us happy (or makes us ‘feel’ happy) but because we can’t have those things all the time we find other things to fill that void. But….it never quite fills that void fully. All the trinkets in the world, all the latest fashions and all the latest technology won’t fill the void but it makes us feel like it does. I was talking about winning the lottery the other day and it made me think, would I be any happier if I was a millionaire? For sure, I would worry less because of no fiscal concerns but I would be actually happier? I don’t think I would be because my happy spot is in those nothing moments. They cost nothing.
The fairy pools, Skye, Canon 5d2, 16-35L
I guess the same is true of relationships in many ways for me. Many times we feel we are happy and that all is well but as the soaring divorce rate shows us, it probably isn’t the case. God knows I have spoken to enough divorcees to know that it was only when they reached that point of making the break that they realise that the happiness was just illusion. Voids filled with holidays, kids, stuff but never quite filling it fully. Everyone has their own view on ‘love’ and happiness in a relationship. Having an attractive partner, a nice house, perfect kids who can play the violin while reciting Shakespeare and winning the local athletics competition, someone to get drunk with, someone to share moments with, someone to talk to. Who knows – you’ll have your own view as you read this and they’re all valid. It’s taken me 48 years to realise what makes things tick for me and its nothingness.
Coming back from Loch Corruisk, hot and sweaty at this point, Canon 5d2, 16-35L
Of course, you need to laugh, you need to communicate and listen, you need to care. You need to do a million things to get a relationship right. The key for me though is how you feel in those nothing moments. When you wrap your arms around your loved one and they close their eyes and you close yours. No words, no movement, just warmth and silence. You stay there, wanting that moment to last forever and if the world ended right there, right then, you would die happy. Real life isn’t like that forever of course because you normally get a dead arm, a mouthful of hair or the cat/dog/kid starts tugging at your leg. But for those few brief moments, it is bliss.
So, for me, finding nothing is life’s goal. Like some bizarre game of cat and mouse, I’ve chased it around this planet, over mountains and across seas and half the time I didn’t realise what I was chasing. I’ve glimpsed it on mountain tops, on deserted beaches and in the dying rays of sunlight in forests. Like lovers being torn from each other, my fingers just manage to grasp her before she skips away again and the kiss chase begins anew.
There is a lot I could write about Skye. I’m not going to though – it is a beautiful place, go there and explore it. Just don’t go in Summer.
View of Idrigil, Skye, Canon 5d2, 16-35L
Walking back from the fairy pools, Canon 5d2, 16-35L
Cuillins, Skye, Canon 5d2, 16-35L