True Grit

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By Hurl Everstone. Illustration by leDav.

First published in Issue 1: October 2014

The air is so god damn arctic cold it hurts when you breathe, so you try not to breathe. But not breathing isn’t possible, so you clench your teeth and force hot air through the skin of your balaclava, pulled up over your mouth. Ice crystals form in your beard and you suck on them in the corners of your mouth to take your mind off how brittle your nose feels, how cold your fingertips are. The ground is made of granite. Your tyres as compliant as concrete. When the soil surrenders to your tread there is an audible aching as the earth crunches, cracks, and moans. Everything else is quiet and still. You press onward, pedals lurching as the bottom bracket congeals. This permafrost, this tundra, nothing should survive here. But you survive. Blinking your eyes behind frosted eyelids you feel the frozen lashes crinkle and twist, and you see the curling exhalations of your own breath, and with each pedal stroke and yawing of the bars you are revving your engine, until suddenly, you are welcoming the cold, crisp air rushing into your lungs.

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