Partly because I wanted to see if it survived the traumatic experience, and partly because I wanted to feel what it was like to ride without all of that extra weight, I put my bike back together today. I cycled a route I have done many times in years past. This time was not like any other. I was home. Moving along a bike trail, in an area all too familiar, I couldn't help but feel contained, like a cowboy who encountered a fence on the open range for the first time. I have gained all this experience, and do not have any one good way to use it (although in many ways, the skills I have that allowed me to create this experience, I use again and again every day).
I saw a cyclist riding with traffic from my vantage point on the trail. I can remember a time when I did that... Which leads me to an important point, from now on, the people I interact with will not know what I did (for the most part). For the last 70 days or so, everywhere I went, I was almost preceeded with a message that told anyone, "I'm an interesting person; come talk to me." Those days are gone, and that's okay. Some piece of advice I would lend to anyone pursuing a goal they deem to be extraordinary, "Do not let the 'success' of your journey depend on the people you encounter on a day to day basis. You will go home empty handed more times than not." I was fortunate enough to accomplish an easily relateable feat. Had I say, cycled from North Dokata to Texas, the "success" of the trip would not be as apparent to those I encountered. You are the only person you have to impress.
You can't tell yourself your limits. That's what this trip taught me. There were many times I met people that echoed a familiar cry, "I could never do that!" I can't help but think they could, but they've never tried.
It's a message that applies all too well to many aspects in life. If you put yourself out there, and you remind yourself every day that quitting is not an option, you too can live out a dream beyond your wildest imagination. Basically I did what just about everyone can do. I rode a bicycle. I just did it longer, and farther, than most care to. I'm not the fastest, and I'm not the strongest. I just had a feeling if I kept going, I'd have the time of my life.
Don't be afraid to follow your heart. Follow your dreams. There's this whole world out there that isn't as set in stone as some would take it to be.
"If you're bored, then you're boring." - Harvey Danger
The Underwear Awards:
- Citizen of the Trip: Bob and Violet of the First Baptist Church in Sebree, Kentucky (highly contested award that could have gone many ways)
- Favorite State: Colorado
- Best Burger: 'The Fat Freddy' at Fat Freddy's in Pacific City, Oregon
- Best Ice Cream: 'Oregon Strawberry' by Tillamook Ice Cream
- Cheapest Motel: $15 at the Golden Lion Motel, Raymond, WA (no bed)
- Worst Motel: Pine Tree Inn, Falls of Rough, KY (no soap of any kind in the room)
- Dirtiest Fast Food Restaurant: McDonald's in Dillon, MT (by far!)
- Favorite Nice Gesture: The mysterious cold Gatorade that appeared with a hand written note, 40 miles west of Lolo Pass, ID
- Most Played Song on my iPod: Asphalt Cowboy - Jason Aldean
- Hardest Day: Rawlins to Jefferey City, WY (the first of three consecutive windy days)
- Wettest Day: Soaked to the bone from Breaks Interstate Park, VA to Hazard, KY
- Most Cycling in One Day: 113miles from Hot Sulphur Springs, CO to Encampment, WY
- The Thing You Never Knew Happened on Day 1: I dropped my phone on a rock at a 7 Eleven outside of Mechanicsville, VA. I did the whole trip with a shattered iPhone screen.
- Best Question about the Trip: Why didn't you take any pictures of the people? (It's more important that I remember what they did for me, than what they look like. However, I would say if I could tell myself anything on day one that I know now, it would be to take a picture of just about all of the role players)
- Most Dogs to Chase me at Once: 4 (somewhere in eastern Kentucky)
- Most Thrilling Moment: Jumping off Dog's Bluff, Houston, MO
- Most Accommodating State to Cyclists Passing Through: Kansas (can stay in their city parks, and shower in their city pools for free, if you're a cyclist...)
- Nicest Cyclist Only Lodging: Al's Place, Farmington, MO
- Favorite Small Town: Guffey, CO
- What I Wasn't Prepared For: the cold in the northwest (55 degree sleeping bag did not cut it in those cold desert nights)
- Best Night Sky: western Wyoming to eastern Oregon
- Most Frequented National Motel Chain: Motel 6
- Most Expensive Meal: Chicken Alfredo at the Olive Garden in Pueblo, Colorado
- Most Expensive Water: $3 for a litre of water in Richland, Oregon!!
- Most Refreshing Beer after a Long Ride: Coors Light
- Pop of Choice on the Trip: Sprite
- Candy of Choice on the Trip: Starburst
- Random Thing I lost: one flip-flop somewhere near Fairplay, CO
- Hottest Day: 108 F, Ness City, KS
- Coldest Night: My bike and tent frosted over in Yellowstone, WY
- Favorite Cyclists to Cross Paths With: Darrel and David (Bay 2 Brooklyn)
- Least Used Item: face wash cloth
- Favorite Equipment Choice: leaving the helmet at home
- Most Regionally Used Phrase by Locals: "You bet!", (mostly in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, but also Oregon)
- Best Story I Never Wrote About: Sometime after lunch, forty miles outside of Eugene, OR (less than two days to the Coast!), I had the best macaroni and cheese of my life. It was within ten miles though, that I realized I had just dug my own grave. I was on my bike, too far from anywhere to be saved. That stomach pain came over me that is associated with dissolution. With a wall of rock to my right, I gingerly crossed the country road to seek immediate privacy. By the time I got to the steel guard rail, I could go no further. I stepped over, and in the light of midday, I gave the locals a show. I garnered a few courtesy honks, surely in jest. Fortunately, beyond the pricker bushes off the road ran the McKenzie River. In lieu of toilet paper, I partook in what may be the most functional form of skinny dipping. In many ways the event could have been disastrous, but I found myself in one of the best places in America to be stranded without an outhouse.