Deux North's Hunt 1 took place on July 4th, 2012. The air was thick with patriotism, and breath stank of America, blood ran red, white, and blue. A group of people, calling themselves hunters, were out celebrating a country, and looking for freedom.
It's 1772 and John Hancock is inserting a bit of style into a document that he knows will change the course of history. A declaration of a dream. Hancock and the others represented a group of people who were ready to die, calling themselves Americans and looking for freedom.
Later, men, women, children, whole families even, took the ultimate risk, put their safety on the line as they stole away to freedom on the Underground Railroad.
These are the stories of American freedom, and as an American, I feel proud to be a part of them. But what of our own battles and risks. When do we get to sign our names to declare our own freedom, then pick up a weapon and protect that declaration in front of our homes; when do we get to slip between the floorboards and ignore our quicken heart to travel towards an end we've only heard of.
Our modern day battles seem a bit more subdued. Battles of consumerism, growing waistlines, agitated spouses, and unrewarding work. If you are like us, you recognize you are capable of higher stakes. As a country, our biggest battles for freedom may be behind us. Now our union's freedom is fought with the cast of a ballot or a tweet to a congressperson. But the battles for our personal freedom must still be fought. The fight against complacency, and apathy, towards courageous free thought, tenacious self exploration and curiosity. In this century, we have a different obligation as Americans and global citizens to honor the freedom we've been awarded by those who came before by living to the fullest.
Deux North was created with the hope of supporting the journey of its stakeholders to fulfill our obligation to live fully. These stakeholders live in a society that allows for great progress, collaboration, order, and innovation but is not conducive to freedom. Traveling out of our modern civilization, building a fire, sleeping on the ground, and riding bicycles 100 miles over mountains is not the only way to feel free, but it is one way.
One of the best examples of a life lived fully is shown in the examples of our children. The child knows how to enjoy life's simple pleasures and realize happiness day in and out. We give our children freedom, and they use it to learn, explore, wonder, play, laugh, and spend time with friends. Throwing a ball, jumping in the water, playing pretend, or building a fort, they enjoy life's possibilities with a purity of the moment. We take this childhood freedom away from ourselves with the stress, obligation, and self-consciousness of adulthood. They say youth is wasted on the young, we say freedom is wasted by the old, but hey… we're still young!
Mine!, the child screams as he grabs the crayon from his crying classmate companion. Ownership is in our blood, and conquest pumps through our heart.
The hunter wants to commune with nature, but he also wants to claim. This land is my land, that land is your land; Pitch your tent in the best spot, and hang your flag for all to see.
Water is for cleaning, it's also for drinking but it only tastes alright. Mostly the hunter uses water to clean off the life he has left behind. Jump in quickly, take a deep breath when your genitals go under, it's cold so concentrate on that. On the way to work you pack an umbrella, that's ridiculous. No one ever hunted with an umbrella.
Ahh, night falls. We can truly become the people we are. The seed has sproughted, the canvas is colored. The hunters are now friends; the pasta boils, and the meat is cooked. The fire lights our conversations, heats our anticipation, and stokes our bond.
Remember that it is more important to prepare for the journey than to journey. We need weapons, lots of weapons, and a compass and a map, let's make an oath, rope, pulleys, horns, anything you can grab - collect it, organize it, and prepare. we have to hunt.
Be a super cool dude, someone the kids can look up to.
Like all things that are very good, or very bad they come upon us suddenly even if we have been waiting for a thousand years.
The uphill: the most poetic portion of the hunt. The suffering: the most spiritual section of the ride. It hurts, it teaches, you want it to be over, and then it is and you want to go again. Funny.
Now more than ever, here more than anywhere.
A different kind of hussle.
When your shoe breaks, ride without one. The other shoe is a sock. Smell the end, and nothing will stop you from tasting.
The time between the hunt itself and the longing for the next one, it's over now and it's time to celebrate what happened here.
There are a lot of miles to wash away, but this time the water serves to solidify. It's the ultimate irony - washing the experience into our warm muscles, and grimed skin. The water is still cold, but in a better way.
We stand on the shoulders of giants, thank you to all of those who have help us up: gage + desoto, NYC Velo.
Photos by Aaron Vazquez