Old Faithful is more much more impressive than I expected, and the Fire Hole Geyser is even more spectacular. Bored of mixing it with retired Americans and their RVs, I head off towards Jackson Hole. The roads are nice, the scenery is fantastic with all the simmering geysers and billowing clouds of smoke from forest fires.
For the first time since reaching Vlad I notice that I’ve fallen back into the flow of riding, where my attention is completely focussed on the movements of the bike beneath me, feeling the tiniest changes in grip, noticing every imperfection in the road surface ahead and adapting my line to potential hazards seemingly before my conscious mind is aware of them. Yet at the same time I’m absorbing every detail of the landscape, smelling the smoke, feeling the warm wind on my face, the roadside trees rushing past, birds soaring, mountains crowding the sky and storm clouds billowing. I’m back into that fully immersive experience where time passes without being noticed. It’s effortless, uninterrupted by internal or external distraction, just me and the road and the landscape, the bike purring, tyres scratching and squirming for traction as I bank it over to the limits with the kind of confidence that comes from this almost subconscious mastery of the situation. I feel like I could outrun the fastest sportsbike, and I’m not even trying. It’s the familiarity from spending so much time on the bike, and the relaxation of being alone on the road, and everything just falls into place. It’s perfect and I’m grinning and before I know it I’m arriving in Jackson and the spell is broken.
I find a motel and shortly afterwards Stephane arrives on a beemer. He’s a French-Canadian now living in Panama and heading for LA after touring Canada. We head into town for beers and bison burgers in a cowboy bar.