Sky Islands

We went credit-card bikepacking in Arizona. The Sky Islands East Loop. We saw some horses. We ate a lot of dust. We met a guy named Donnie who said he’d had sex with Jim Harrison on a pier. We sweat a lot, but we survived. We grew. We made a real life memory. We wore matching shirts (why?) and we got in one actual fight (not my fault). We had some type 1 and type 2 fun. We spent two days of our lives dedicated to pedaling through a desert.

We believe going outside to experience things is good. We believe it is one of the worthwhile things of life. We believe humans have some hardwired roaming instincts and that trips that launch us into a transitory state — crossing from Point A to Point B — engage your body and mind in a both ephemeral and core kind of way.

We know that we experienced a luxury. We know that this landscape is a place of migrants, crossing over the rugged border deserts into American land, suffering long journeys across punishing hillsides under the Sonoran sun and looking for opportunity or community or just something less devastating than from where they came. We were not those people. We were two guys on bikes. We didn’t raise eyebrows from the Border Patrol agents in their white pickup trucks.

We were hunters. And we were hunted. The sun. The wind. The dust. The elevation. The hours. Despite the challenges, we sought the pass, the long descent, the flat, the Green Valley Inn. We hunted apexes on winding gravel roads. We longed for water. We found good people. Good memories.

We were not the fastest to ride this route. Or the best. We were simply two people on a journey. Two people on a long weekend. Two people exploring a new place. Two people trying to live in their bodies in a place that meant something to them. A route. A time. A curiosity. We went credit-card bikepacking. We saw some cows. We were covered in dust. We met a guy named Donnie. We sweat. We survived. We grew. We made a real life memory.

All photos by Matthew Ankeny for West Skincare. Gallery at top.

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