AXC - The bike

AXC - The bike

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cuz I'm Happy

I say a lot how this trip is so hard, but it's also wonderful in a million little ways. Here are a few of the things that make me smile and be glad I'm here, doing this amazing thing. 

Plodding up a hill for 30 minutes and being treated to a spectacular view at the top. (see top image)

Struggling up a difficult hill, and realizing I still have one more granny gear to drop down into. 

When the bike works well and the gears shift cleanly. 

Random acts of kindness from strangers.

Being soaked in a sweat at the top of a hill, then coasting down the back side so fast that it feels like air-conditioning and I'm almost cold by the time I'm at the bottom.

Rolling hills that let me keep my momentum from the last hill to crest the next one. 

Finding out that a hill isn't as steep/long/difficult as it seemed from a distance.

Finding a restaurant at just the exact time that I need breakfast/lunch/snack, and getting a fantastic big meal for <$5.

Meeting new and interesting people as we roll through their town. 

Spotting a convenience store just as I need water/gatorade/chocolate milk to keep me going. 

Staying at a campground so remote that there's no cell signal, and the stars are brilliant in the night sky. 

Realizing that my tent feels like home. 

Getting on the bike in the morning, after doing this for 7 weeks, and still looking forward to riding that day. 

The endlessly beautiful scenery that is my 'daily grind.' 

Difficult days that keep redefining 'hardest day yet', and continuing to conquer them all. 

Meeting other cyclist on the route and hearing their take on the trip. Also when we meet people riding in the other direction and they tell us things to look forward to. 

When Bob and Mike pull out the ukelele and harmonica and play and sing for us into the night. 

Ice cream.

Cute towns we stay in, and finding great little restaurants/bars/cafes to relax in. 

I walk into a convenience store in Middle of Nowhere, wearing a yellow spandex bike shirt and shorts so tight you can tell my religion. Inside are a bunch of good-ol-boys in trucker hats talking about their pickups and where they're going hunting this weekend. I expect them to glare at me and murmur. Instead, they are friendly and ask where I'm going, or where I'm coming from. We chat for a few minutes, they wish me luck and tell me to "be safe out there!"

Everyone we meet that hears about our trip is so excited and enthusiastic for us, asking questions and just generally happy and interested in our adventure. 

Finding cool abandoned stuff and getting a great picture.

Thunderstorms at night while I'm in my tent. The thunder echoing around the mountains, rain pounding and wind shaking my tent. Lightning flashing so much it's like a disco strobe light.
Feeling a mixture of scared and excited. And then falling asleep to the sound of rain. 

Getting texts and e-mail from friends.

Getting comments on my blog (sadly, doesn't happen enough, hint hint.)

Stepping on the bike petal and the shoe just clips in, without even trying. (Anyone who rides with clip-in appreciates that.)

Rolling into a small town right at lunchtime and finding a perfect little lunch spot. Then, as some of us are sitting there, the rest of the group rolls up and joins us, until the whole group is sitting and having a meal together. 

Pushing up a hill, struggling just a little bit, and then realizing I still have one more gear to drop down into. 

Spotting a cool abandoned car/house/machine and stopping to get the perfect picture. 

When other people in the group point out a cool abandoned car to me because they know I'm doing the Abandoned America photo essay. 


Dropping down into my aero-bars and just pushing hard for a while and enjoying the feeling of speed.

Seeing the mountains off in the distance, impossibly far, but also knowing we'll be there soon enough. 

Having all my stuff organized in just the right way that I know where everything is, and it's all easy to get to when I need it. 

Gentle downhills that stretch for miles and I barely have to pedal. 

Rest days where I get to discover a new town. 

Rolling into town/camp after a long day and being finished. 

Cooking a great dinner for the group, and actually pulling it off. 

The hospitality of strangers. 

The group working together and helping each other out in little ways, like doing laundry, helping each other put up a tent, to just asking 'are doing doing ok today?' 

Feeling the amazement of actually doing this grand adventure. 

Seeing America at 10 miles an hour. 


  1. The first comment to reply to the hint hint :)

    Keep on writing

  2. Wonderful happy moments Aaron. Keep them and that great attitude going up the next hill!

  3. I'm gonna try this comment thing again. If it eats THIS one, I'm DONE with comments on the blog site (-;

    I'm happy if YOU'RE happy! Safe travels, Aaron!

  4. I'm SO enjoying your posts, Aaron! If I can't be out on the road, reading your blog is the next best thing. About the good ol' boys, isn't it refreshing to push past stereotypes and preconceptions, and have them do the same? I loved your previous post about the hospitality of strangers that you "never could have dreamed and didn't know existed". That is my favorite part of going out on the road, and why I invite strangers into my home through Warm Showers.

    1. Thanks Mandy!
      The amazing hospitality everywhere we go is definitely the most surprising thing of the trip!

  5. I know you keep hitting 'hardest days' as you go. Do you think if you hit the latest 'hardest day' in the first couple weeks you would have made it through or are each of the hard days building you up to handle the next?

    Really enjoying the posts and looking forward to a photobook of Abandoned America. I can almost see you making a hobby of that and visiting other beautiful abandoned places out there sometime.

    1. Matt, the day I called 'The Crucible' was definitely the hardest day, but the long day one week into the trip was possibly the most challenging and certainly the longest. I think every day prepares for the next, but I don't think any one day would have really defeated me. Though they did come close.

  6. We're still reading! It's neat to see how the sense of community within your group continues to build, and the different ways you're enjoying this as a journey, not a race or destination.

  7. Thank you! I needed the hint as I don't usually comment. I sure have been enjoying your blog! Thanks to ACA for the great tip.

    Any information about the %grade on some of the toughest hills you have been on? I've always wanted to do this trip but am used to the long slow grades we have here out west.

  8. Also, would love to hear more about your happy tent organization method!