Several people waved from the few cars, trucks and motor homes that passed, although I can't say for sure if it was out of congeniality or astonishment.

You can see big trucks coming from a mile away. From five miles away.

The desert solitude is hypnotic. Somewhere between mile post 6 and mile post 81, I shifted into a Zen-like trance, mesmerized by the yellow stripes on the highway ...

... I turned my pedals and thought of my hopes, my goals, my dreams. I contemplated the meaning of life, I debated in my mind the pros and cons of the designated hitter rule, I tried to fathom how Tiger Woods makes all those putts, I wondered at the thought that entire cultures in Asia still haven't discovered the fork, I pondered the theory of relativity. I tried to think if I have ever actually heard a Britney Spears song and what's the big deal about her anyway?

My cycling compadre, Walt Chudleigh, became mesmerized by the ant hills that lie at intervals roughly every 20 feet along vast stretches of the roadway. Don't tell the ants it's a lonely place.

Just as we were threatening to shear entirely that thin band that separates lucidity from going 'round the bend, we turned the corner and there it was: the Sinclair gas station & convenience store in Hinckley, exactly 83 miles from the aforementioned sign on the Nevada-Utah border.

We stepped off our bikes and walked inside, in front of the air conditioner. Heather Palmer, working the counter, asked with a friendly smile, "Can I help you?" A human voice. Civilization never felt so good.

Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to [email protected] and faxes to 801-237-2527.