Adventure Nothing with Cam McCaul | Trek Bikes
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Ain't it something

Words by Cam McCaul
Photos by Tyler Roemer

The lady at the coffee counter dried her hands on her apron and shot us a suspicious sideways glance. “What are you guys looking for today?” she asked.

“Nothing,” I said. And that was the truth. “We’re going to drive around and see if we can find nothing.” A better way to put it might have been, “We’re just trying to get away for a day,” or even “We don’t know where we’re going, but we’ll know when we get there.”

She laughed. Maybe because my answer hadn’t done anything to dissuade her suspicion, maybe because she didn’t know what else to do. My photographer buddy, Tyler Roemer, laughed too, but for a different reason. It sounded a little ridiculous. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t true.

Outside the café, in the frozen, pre-sunrise parking lot, Tyler’s Tacoma sat idling, a cab-over camper on top and a bike rack on the hitch. In the cab were a couple shovels, a couple cameras, a couple sleeping bags, and enough food to last us the night in case we really did find nothing and decided to stay.

Perched on the rack were two bikes: my Ticket S slopestyle bike and Session downhill bike. I’d brought both just in case the nothing we found had something to ride.

I’ve always liked the motto, “Under promise, over deliver.” In life and riding, it’s become a kind of mantra for me, and this philosophy has allowed me to surprise not just other people but also myself on occasion.

It was especially fitting for today, I realized. Driving around in search of nothing is a situation where you can’t lose. When you realize you haven’t found anything, voila, you’ve officially accomplished your goal. But I’ll admit it was less that we were hoping not to find anything, and more that we were in search of a place with such an abundance of nothing that it was undeniably something.

As we departed the coffee shop parking lot, Tyler set the vehicle on an eastward course from our starting point of Bend, Oregon. A few hours of highly caffeinated conversation ensued. We watched as businesses and stoplights gave way to farmland and sage brush, and eventually: nothing.

The object was to find a change of scenery. To get away for a day. Bike riding and photography would be the cherry on top, which materialized in the form of mysterious lumps of dirt scattered across the barren desert floor. Fifteen minutes with a shovel and a small donation of our drinking water turned these lumps into a private playground for me and an unusual photography studio for Tyler. Behind us, the juxtaposition of flat desert and sharp mountain peaks served as our striking backdrop.

After exactly one trip around the sun, we’d witnessed changes in light and movements of clouds. We’d ridden, photographed, cooked, slept. Most importantly, we’d carried on hours of mindless laughter-inducing banter. At last, we were recharged and ready to leave nothing behind.

After all, that’s what mountain biking is all about.

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