Thursday, March 13, 2014
Tip of the iceberg
One of my favorite comments in life was said a few years ago by my friend Amy after I did a write up of my first Triathlon. She read my race recap and said “Wow, I thought triathlon was just ‘swim/bike/run’, but that sounds a lot more complicated!” This was in reference to all the training, planning, and race-day logistics like nutrition and setting up my transition area.
This comment has stuck with me, through more triathlons, marathons, and just generally in life. Most things are lot more difficult than they seem.
When I talk about my bike trip, people of course focus on the act of bicycling across the whole country. And certainly, that’s a big thing. They ask questions like; How long with this take? (3 months.) How far will you ride each day? (55-60 miles.) How far is the trip? (4300 miles). Etc.
But as I’m preparing for this, I’m realizing that the act of pedaling every day is just a fraction of everything involved. For the trip itself, some of the difficulties include; setting up and breaking down camp every night. Shopping, cooking and cleaning up dinner and breakfast everyday. Biking in the rain, or worse – setting up and breaking down camp in the rain.
Beyond that, the actual trip is just a part of the overall effort. All of the planning and preparation leading up to the trip feels like it might be at least as difficult as the trip itself (and its certainly taking much longer!) Training for the ride is preoccupying me a bit. I’m trying to bike into work when the weather permits, but that hasn’t been much yet. I’ll have to do long rides (like, 100 miles) on the weekend. And I'm trying to break in a new saddle, which isn't pleasant!
I’ve had to buy a crap-load of stuff for this trip, from big things like a bike and saddle bags, to trivial (but still important) things like a solar panel to charge my gadgets, a first aid kit, a light cycling jacket, and lots more.
I don’t mean to oversell the difficulty of this, or to make myself out to look like a superman for taking it on. Lots of people do a trip like this every year. People do more difficult things like Iron Man triathlons, or heck, raise kids! I’m just sharing my thoughts and the feeling of scope that I’m experiencing in doing this adventure, and what it means to me. I keep coming back to ‘that’s more complicated than I thought.’ And really, it’s more complicated than even I was expecting. But it’s also part of the fun (at least for me.) I kind of excel at planning and logistics, so this is exciting for me, planning for all these contingencies, and trying to be prepared for things I can’t even foresee.
And, it’s not all going to be the difficulties, of course. There are a lot of things I’m really looking forward to. The trip is with a tour group, and there will be 14 strangers that I’m going to spend 3 months with. I’ll get to know new people. I’ll get to experience camping outside every day, being in nature. Seeing the fields of Kansas, the Rocky Mountains close up. I’ll get to see the United States of America – both the country and the people - in an intimate, close up and unique way. I’ll get to eat ice cream in dozens of towns across the country. I’ll meet interesting people that are far different from the East Coast/urban crowd I’ve known most of my life. I’ll visit states I’ve never been to, and see history I never knew. I’ll camp out under the stars, and feel the tent shake during thunderstorms. I’ll push myself physically harder than I ever have before, and will hopefully rise up to what will be the most mentally challenging thing I’ve ever undertaken.
And all along, I hope to keep sharing this with all of you who read this blog, and hope you’ll comment and share your thoughts as well. I also hope you’ll keep me up to speed on what’s happening in your life and hometown, so I don’t feel as isolated as I spin through yet another day of seemingly endless cornfields or up a hill that appears to go up and up forever.
As always, thanks for reading. That, at least, is exactly as difficult (or not) as it seems.