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Thirsty for Nature

Bicycling isn't the only sport that needs a certain amount of gathering-up prior to beginning. Nor is old age the only time of life when you forget things. But for some reason none of that helps when I start a bike ride without a water bottle. 

My ride begins by climbing over a 1000 feet up to the continental divide. If I notice that I've forgotten water halfway up the hill I become so angry at myself that I can't think about anything else. A desperate thirst overtakes me. This happened again recently. (Why not just store equipment, including the water bottle, on the bike? Then you won't forget anything. I've been telling myself that for 30 years.)

To make matters worse there is no place to buy bottled water on my route. What the heck was I supposed to do? Approaching the Divide I suddenly got an idea: there are always plastic bottles littering the roadside. Normally I just avert my eyes. Why not keep an eye out for them, grab one, take it to the cafe or somebody's house, and fill it up?

Why hadn't I thought of that years ago? The trouble with brilliant ideas is making them work. Remember, I wanted a bottle with a cap. Wouldn't you know that the roadside was clean after this mighty thought occurred to me. But soon I found my quarry: a half-drunk bottle of disgusting orange gatorade, with the cap. It surprised me that the litterbug was so thoughtful.

Thus the emergency came to a happy ending. It was oddly and profoundly satisfying to solve a fundamental problem like thirst without buying anything. When we moderns play at the role of outdoorsman, in harmony with nature, we take our goretex and polartec, titanium and carbon fiber out into the woods, along with freeze-dried beef stroganoff, cooking fuel, and battery-guzzling gadgets. Then we consume it all. How long could we really live off the land without running into some store and buying something? In harmony with nature, indeed!