Roads Unwound: A Future

Some time aside is in order. When things are bad it is nice to step away for a breathe of focus. When things are good, it is often important to do the same. My thoughts of taking some time away from the trip began back when things were bad; the northern Oregon coast to be exact, while huddled inside my tent against the wrath of Mother Nature. Fortunately, me last pre-pause pedal strokes came when things were good. So good in fact, it has been nice to step aside and realize my good fortunes.

The journey from Seattle to LA proved to be my most enduring challenge of the trip; taking me full circle from bliss and love of my life on my bike to utter despair, and back again. The hurdles I encountered in the process were as much outside as inside. I have always been keen to the notion that a situation is only as dire, difficult or divine as one chooses to make it, but I am beginning to see that it was only my philosophy when it was the sensible option. A truer more accurate model of who we are comes from how we handle adversity. Our experiences are all filtered through our minds, which are perhaps so influenced by our emotions that a distinction between the two is often unnecessary. For reasons that are not yet entirely clear, my filter was casting an overbearing pale gray shadow over all of my experiences in an exceptionally pale-gray west coast environment. I know that it had to do in part with my isolation and general loneliness, but also in part with some general depression that I wasn’t quite accomplishing what I had intended to accomplish (aside from the physical act of biking the route). I am continuously working to take away many of the self-inflicted pressures that stack so much stress upon me and let things happen as they may. A book will come out of the trip if I have a life changing experience, and not if I stress about it. So, as this journey continues, it will be a constant effort to focus on one day and one pedal stroke at a time. Take it as it comes, no more and no less.

In order to get the most from my time on this trip I was starting to realize I was encountering two impending obstacles: budget and schedule. Rushing through this trip is as unthinkable as rushing through life. How can we take it one day at a time if it is all structured into a one month or one year plan. Having no plan is where this journey is teaching me the value of living in, and for, each moment. Learning to take upon each and almost every opportunity that came my way is one of the reasons I was slogging down the west coast during the wet fall. So, if I continue to follow those paths I can’t see how I would make it to the bottom of South America by next January or February. Even were I to do so, I would quickly realize that the style of travel to which I have become accustomed would slowly bleed me dry of money by the time I was possibly even out of Central America. I am not trying to say that there are not things I can cut out of my budget (I paid for two nights in a hotel in six months of travel), but at the same time I am not sure that there are things in my lifestyle and budget worth getting rid of (fresh coffee or baked goods, internet, good food, an occasional libation).

So, I am taking a break to do the thing I do best (after biking, of course), which is to build something. There were two factors in this decision; first, the availability of work, and second, a conscious choice to complete the trip under my own earnings and not through debt or prostitution. If the opportunity to have an available project were not possible, then I would of course have ignored the second part of the equation and quickly gone into debt if that is what it would take to complete my trip. As it is, I have another kitchen to remodel in Colorado Springs. It will begin with some design, flow into demolition, and then finish up with some custom cabinet making and a general face-lift for a 40 year old home. I may also manage to stock up with slew of side-projects to keep me more than busy, and continue to keep me from my constant challenge of learning more Spanish.

I left a few things with a good friend in Huntington Beach. Hauled my bike back to Colorado so I can pretend to stay in shape for biking. Then took to the road to gather up my tools in Montana and set up for my photography exhibit at Sola Cafe in Bozeman. It was 20 degrees below 0 this morning, and I would be a fool to say that I was not dreaming of a nice bike ride in southern California. But, now that the decision has been made, I am very comfortable with it’s implications. Ultimately a longer bike trip, finishing at the end of 2012 or beginning of 2013. As I implied before, that opens up the trip to any unthinkable side-trip or deviation, and keeps me exploring without the pressures of a schedule. Had I stepped off the bike in San Francisco I would be concerned about any thoughts of extending the trip. Yet, as it is, I joyously cruised into LA under clear blue skies and a nice flat beach to guide me. It was as nice as a dream, one that has me thrilled for the prospect of a few more years of this life on a bike.

With my time away from the road south I may slow the occurrence of updates, but I don’t intend to abandoned all the loyal followers of my journey. It is encountering a new direction, and with it should come some fun experiences worth sharing. For starters, I am looking forward to the exposure I may garner with my work on display in Bozeman and the artist’s opening that is coming up this Friday, the 4th of February. Of course I hope people enjoy my photography, but more importantly may they appreciate the goal that is this trip.

To Date:
4,985 miles
178 days (Prudhoe Bay to LA, including breaks)
100 days riding
299,100 calories (only while riding)
8 flat tires
2 nights in a hotel
8 books
2000 pictures
Cried 3 times
Said “hardest hill of the trip so far” approximately 10 times
Steepest grade was 18%
Steepest continuous grade 15%
Stayed with 16 different people
And, too many amazing moments to count!

2 Responses to “Roads Unwound: A Future”

  1. Caitlyn says:

    What an impressive resume you have built even by this, the half-way point, of your epic trip! Enjoy the winter and be good to yourself. Nice to see you. And to broomball. Rawr.

  2. Rose says:

    Only 8 flat tires!?!? Wow, I would have thought a lot more!

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