Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Riding across America

Typically, I save the links to other people's writings for Fridays. But I've been enjoying Chris Nadovich's account of his 2009 bike ride across America. He wrote it en route. It's honest, direct, plain spoken, and funny in an understated way. I don't know how many people have read it so far, but more people should. It rings true, possible and audacious all at once and that makes it all the more inspirational. I left the best parts back at the source, but here's a small sample. . .

The idea of traveling through the countryside, whether by boat, bike, or on foot, without a clear notion on exactly where one will spend the next night, can be an off-putting prospect to those who have never done it. The closest many people ever dare to experience is a multi-day car trip, staying in random motels without prior reservation.

The solid predictability of civilized life makes us recoil from the idea of just driving till we are tired, then looking for a motel. We want more of a plan. Off-putting though this may be to our civilized sensibilities, multi-day treks are exactly of this formless form. Even when the trek is organized by others – as is the case with RAGBRAI and other similar events – often one doesn't completely know the sleeping arrangements at the end of the day's excursion. The swarm of 10,000 riders that is RAGBRAI quickly exhausts any possible planned campsites. Basically, when the day's riding is done, drunk or sober, by daylight or by flashlight, one still needs to find a place to sleep. To those of us that have come to love it, the uncertainty is the very charm of this multi-day trekking thing.

. . .

The toughness required for trekking is still within my grasp. With a clear travel goal in mind and the inspiration to care about it, given enough time I can usually get my ass from point A to point B, assuming the gods don't conspire against me.

As goals go, a transamerica bike ride always was a life goal for me. I think it first became a goal for me back in the 70s when I saw my two high school friends pedal off on their own ride across America. I thought it was a pretty cool thing to do. I thought I wouldn't mind doing it myself.

So, why did I wait so long? Why did it take me 33 years to get around to doing something about this supposedly important lifelong achievement?

It seems to me that as one ages, acting with true spontaneity becomes impossible. Instead, I seem to be developing a backlog of whims desired but not acted on. In some cases, the whims are bad things that I refuse to act on for moral reasons, an extramarital affair, for example. But in other cases, the whims are benign dreams, say, to ride a bike across America.

These good whims sit in my volitional queue waiting for a triggering event. There has to be a proximate cause. I simply can't wake up in the morning, pick some whim out of my queue and act on it. Maybe I could when I was 20, but no longer. Something or somebody has to prod one of these quirky scripts on stage into my life.

In the case of the transcontinental bike ride under discussion, the triggering event was a conversation I had with Gary during one of Doug's "Gin and Tonic Partys".


You can read the rest at the source: CTN TransAm 09 and the whole trip is at this link
Reprinted with Permission - Thanks Chris.

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