Sunday, July 27, 2014
Days go by
I did a two week touchpoint at the start of the trip and am looking at it now with just one remaining.
At the original two week marker, the trip felt so much different. I had been riding in Virginia for the whole time and it felt like we'd never get out of that state. Two weeks felt like an eternity. At that time that was the most physical activity I'd ever done in that time span. The trip was all ahead of me and I had but the briefest taste.
Now, with 4000 miles under my wheels, 9 states, and 12 weeks, I'm trying to put into words what I feel. I know I won't be able to fully digest this whole thing until long after I'm done and I can look back on it. But right now, with the end looming large, here are my thoughts.
Twelve weeks has never felt longer in my life. It is like time has decompressed and this trip is the only thing I've ever known. I've spent my whole life on the road. There was another life, another time, when I was an IT guy, a triathlete, I had a house and bills and a TV.
From the outside I know this was only 3 months and that goes by in the blink of an eye. What did you do this summer? Did you go on any trips? Did you finish any big projects at work or around the house? Did the days and weeks blend together until you wondered how June and July whirled past in a flash?
For me the days go buy at a 10 mph. I see every wildflower on the side of the road, every abandoned car, every mountain in the distance. I have been surprise that even after all this time I am still excited to be on this trip. I get on my bike and most days I think "wow, I'm really doing this!" Every day has its own beauty and challenges, each one standing as it's own entity, it's own eternity. Every mile is earned, with sweat and strength. The miles go by slowly, yet accumulate quickly. In the distance I see my future, a mountain range as a hazy silhouette on the horizon, impossibly far away. I roll inevitably, inexorably, towards them, and eventually they melt away in my rear view mirror.
Eventually the days and cities blend together, forming a larger tapestry of being on the road.
I've had wonderful experiences that I never would have expected: Going to a rodeo in Wyoming, hot spring baths in Colorado, having a banquet thrown for us in Kansas, bombing down a mountainside in Idaho. And more than I can recount.
There have been hard days too. Very few, but days where I just didn't want to ride, days where I wanted the trip to be done with already. This is where the mental fortitude is just as important as the physical strength.
And it is amazing to me to see the physical strength build as I ride. Hills that would have knocked me out in Kentucky and Missouri are now barely a thought. I ride up inclines twice as long, and smile at the top. Sure, I get my heartrate up and my legs burn a little, but I'm demonstrably stronger now than when I started. 60 mile days that would have felt long early on are now just 'tuesday'.
The days are starting to blend together more as well. Weeks used to feel like months, as time slowed down. Now the end seems to be approaching like a freight train. And yet, every day is still it's own eternity, right up until the end.
Right now, I'm both looking back at the trip and looking forward. Looking back at where I've been, deconstructing this lifetime in the saddle; where I've been and how far I've come. Not just in the miles, but physically, emotionally, personally.
I think I won't be able to fully process and understand this trip until well after I'm done. But for now, in this life I am a cyclist, at least for one more week.