In an earlier post I agonized somewhat about the reason I am doing this ride. When hearing of this trip one of the first questions people ask is, ‘Why are you doing this?’ Over time, several people have offered perfectly good suggestions:
- to raise money for a charitable cause
- to hi-lite some worthy endeavor
- to speak about something special
Their intentions are honorable but leave me feeling somewhat guilty about wanting to go simply because I am wanting to go. So, I have ponded the Why question for about four months and finally decided to accept the fact that I am going simply because I want to go.
The bottom line? Maybe I am supposed to go on a blind leap of faith. ‘Blind leap of faith,’ you say? Yes. Maybe I will discover why I am going somewhere along the path while I am going.
Am I wasting a 4,400 mile opportunity to talk about something profound with potentially hundreds of people? I have decided that answer is no. Is it being selfish by not promoting something akin to a higher good? Again, I don’t think so.
If I do this trip in a manner that brings me substantial happiness and satisfaction, will I not be able to radiate my happiness on those I meet. At that point, who knows where the conversation will go. At least the discussions will go in a mutually interesting direction rather than my attempting to direct the conversation to achieve a specified end goal. Maybe my purpose in doing this will be to allow the people I meet to walk away feeling happier. Maybe they will have a few new stories in their back pocket to share about some over weight guy pedaling his #%*& cross country on a funny looking bicycle.
I know the people I meet on this trip will brighten my day; maybe I can do the same for them. Yes, I think I am finally comfortable in saying I am doing this just because I want to do this. I am doing this because I want to share life with other people and allow them the opportunity to share with me.
Why am I doing this cross country ride? Because it sounds fun? Because it is a challenge that I couldn’t pass up. Because it is good exercise?
Why? All of the above: perhaps. Maybe none of the above.
Do I really need a reason? If there isn’t some identifiable reason what will compel me to keep going when it is no longer fun. What will keep me going when the tough hills and strong headwinds and rainy days seem more than I can handle? What happens when exercise becomes boredom?
Raising awareness for bicycle safety is certainly a worth while endeavor. I have had people intentionally crowd me over to make a point that bicycles don’t belong on the road. I have had friends and a close relative injured do to inattentive drivers. How can we help drivers be more vigilant and aware of bicyclists?
Showing people how much roadside trash is out there is important. You never realize how many wadded up dirty diapers or empty fast food bags or one half a pair of shoes are on the roadside until you have ridden a bicycles for 20 miles. That dirty diaper may be stinking up the car but is pitching it out the car window the right thing to do?
Providing an example that getting older doesn’t necessarily equate to doing less sounds worth while. Setting lofty goals can be done at any age. It doesn’t have to be riding a bicycle cross country. It can be anything. Maybe the issue with many people is trying to figure out the why. Why do this or why do that.
Most humans need to have a purpose in life. In my case I went about this all backwards. I said yes, now I need to better understand why I said yes.
Love Story is an old movie by Eric Segal with a music score that starts out with the words ‘Where do I begin . . .’ Well That is my question: Where do I begin?
About a year ago, while attending a 12 month church related program I met a pastor from the Missoula MT area by the name of Tom Hall. In getting to know each other a little better Tom began talking about long distance biking which is something my wife and I had done some years ago.
Now, I biked several one week RAGBRAI (Registered Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) events (~475 miles). I even bicycled from the top of Michigan down to St. Joseph in three days (~300 miles) several times, and I bicycled across Michigan (~150 miles) in one day. My wife and I even went self-contained bicycle camping on a few occasions.
Tom, on the other hand, had done self-contained rides of several thousand miles or more. Not only had he done those rides, but he had done them on a recumbent of all things. Turns out he had two recumbents: a RANS long wheel base and a Terra-Tryke three wheeler. The more we talked the more he talked about always wanting to do a west to east trip across the United States.
My wife and I spent Easter (2012) weekend in Missoula with Tom and his wife, Dixie. During the weekend he began to talk with me about doing the cross country trip with him, on a recumbent of all things. I sort of laughed and told him that it sounded fun.
During the next 4-5 months he continued to hit me up about how much fun we would have. In mid-August (2012) he called me and asked if I was up to doing the ride or not. You ever hear the expression, ‘engage brain before opening mouth?’ Well, I failed to engage my brain before my mouth said ‘Yes!’
What had I done? I didn’t own a recumbent nor had I ever been on a recumbent. And, to top it off, I was in Milwaukee WI for two months helping my brother-in-law recover from double knee replacement surgery.