AXC - The bike

AXC - The bike

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Why 2K?

I have bicycled two thousand miles. 
That's a strange thing for me to wrap my head around. I've been on my bike seat for 6-10 hours a day, for the last 6+ weeks, and yet still this is a hard thing for me to really grasp. 
Two thousand miles. 
From Yorktown, Va to Kansas just before the Colorado border. 5 states, 3 time zones, in almost 7 weeks. 

And yet, after all this time and all these miles, I still think every single day "Oh my god, I'm actually doing it!" 
My enthusiasm may occasionally waver, be it heat, or headwinds or hills. But also at some point I look up at some beautiful scenery, or look down at my feet spinning and spinning, and think "I am really doing this, I am bicycling across the entire freakin' country!" 
And I can't help but smile. My heart swells with the idea of it, both as I'm doing it, and as I'm sitting here writing about it. 

The thought sometimes even pops up when the going gets tough, and then instead of thinking "this sucks", I think "this is what it takes to do this thing." and I push on. 

As I was talking about this with another rider recently, he said he occasionally thinks "Geez, what did I get my self into!?" and that surprised me, because that thought has never passed through my head. There have been many trials and challenges, and I've been tired in ways I've never experienced before, but I have never once questioned or regretted my decision. 

This ride has been on my mind for a long time, almost 8 years. For about half of that, I didn't even have a decent bike. Then I started doing triathlon and really got into bike riding. But even then I didn't pull the trigger on this trip. So this has been a dream for such a long time, that it feels surreal that it is finally happening. It's wonderful that it has been so much fun so far as well. Sure, I say almost every day how hard this is, but that's just one aspect. 
There are a lot of moments so far on the trip that have made it live up to and even and surpass my dream:
Riding up the Blue Ridge mountains, on a grueling 12 hour day, and seeing the mountain range from the top. 
CrossingAmerica at 10 miles an hour I get to see the country in such fine detail. There are rolling grassy fields that are so green the colors look hyper-exposed. I will take off my sunglasses just to make sure I'm seeing the true colors, and they are always just as brilliant. I see the deep blue sky stretch off to the horizon and it fills me with a sense of contentment.
There are tall trees in an empty field that look like they are stretching up trying to touch the sun.
I snap pictures of things that take my breath away, and feel a small sadness that the photo fails to capture the grandeur of what I'm experiencing.  
I have time to examine all the houses and towns I pass, and think about the people who live there. I've rolled through hundreds of Main Streets, in little towns and big ones. 
I have had the pleasure of meeting so many interesting people and experiencing hospitality on a level I never could have dreamed and didn't realize still existed. I've made friends in the tour group that have entertained me, educated me and supported me. I've survived 'The Crucible' in Kentucky, 'The Inferno' in Missouri, and 'The Blast Furnace' in Kansas. I am going to ride a bicycle over the Rocky Mountains. 
All of this just amazes me; that I'm doing it, that I can do it. 

The trip is just shy of the halfway mark, but it feels like a lot longer. If this trip ended tomorrow, I would feel like I've had a full, epic and wonderful adventure. So the idea that this is not even halfway through is thrilling. How much I've experienced, seen, pushed my limits and learned in the 2000 miles to this point has me excited for what more lies over the Rockies, in Montana and Wyoming, at Yellowstone Park, and then the final push through Oregon to the Pacific Coast. 
I don't know if I've 'grown' per-say on this trip so far, but certainly my worldview has been expanded.
And this is just 6 and a half weeks. 
This is a variation of a line in 'Men in Black' (of all places) where Tommy Lee Jones says 'Think about what you knew yesterday, and how much more you know today. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow.' 

I think about how much I've seen so far, how far I've come, and how much more there is still yet to experience. 

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  1. Great entry Aaron. You will keep on smiling for years to come with the memory's :)

  2. Very impressive and we are all looking forward to seeing what is yet to come. Congrats on realizing a life goal. Not many people get to do that.

  3. I added a nice long comment yesterday, and now it's missing. Grrr. I can't remember what I wrote, or I'd post it again.

    1. You might go to your history and check. I did the same thing once and found it setting and waiting to be Published.

    2. I did the TransAm east to west in 1976. What can I say that all must say and have said? You experience the trip years after the experience. I walk down the street and hear the sounds and feel the rain of the trip I took about 40 years ago.

    3. I did west to east in 1986. You never forget! Lovely memories.

  4. Fantastic post! Looking forward to meeting you when you arrive in Missoula.

  5. Aaron, thanks for sharing this. We will see you all here at Adventure Cycling for our traditional Trans Am barbecue on July 17!

  6. Just found your Blog in Bike Bits. Plan on reading and following the rest of your ride. Would really like to work myself up to a point that I can do the same. Be Safe.

    1. I started with January 31st and saw a pic of your Bike. I see what looks like a Randonee. How do you like your bike overall?

  7. Yes, you are doing it! Keep pedalling. Keep smiling. Keep posting!
    I love the pictures. I, too, am travelling USA - at 0 miles per hour. Living vicariously through you :)

  8. Thanks! So glad you're reading and following along, and that you're enjoying the posts!!

  9. Why 2k? Because it's halfway to 4k and more of course! :-)

    Found your blog via BikeBits. Always glad to hear of others' adventures on ACA routes and yours is the classic! Enjoy every minute now and as others have said ... you'll remember it for many many years to come. Be safe and have the time of your life!!

  10. Glad to have found your blog via BikeBits. Thanks for sharing this adventure with us. May you continue to have a wonderful and safe trip!!!