A recurring theme brings an end to the trip

Making an exitMaking an exit
Making an exit

Twenty-one months, 8,500 miles, 8 countries, 1 remodeled kitchen, 2 bikes, and countless invaluable experiences and I am hanging up the bike and returning to other life pursuits. Back on the road after a wonderful break in Xela put me face to face with a recurring reality. I don’t particularly enjoy the life of a bike traveler. It has shown me some amazing parts of the world, and taught me a lot about myself. While I set out with the intent to reach the bottom of South America, I have wavered on the reality of that destination for some time. Now I am acknowledging that I am not receiving enough in return for all the effort (emotional, mental, physical) that I am applying to the trip, and want to invest all of myself in other endeavors.

Did I find everything I was looking for? I can’t say, since I didn’t set out in search of anything other than a unique adventure. Through all the verdant green valleys, steep hills, drenching rain, and scorching sun, when the adventure was all around, I was learning a great deal about myself. The discovery that I was capable of riding such distances, or endure such challenges, wasn’t groundbreaking. I have always lived a life of biking, skiing, hiking, climbing, and always approached them as limitless endeavors. What I did discover was a greater self-awareness, confidence, and a clearer understanding of what makes me happy.

An attempted smile on the hot Costa Rican roadsAn attempted smile on the hot Costa Rican roads
An attempted smile on the hot Costa Rican roads

Recently, I was thinking about how I feel as at home in the bowels of a street market bartering for a scrap of grilled meat, or a bruised piece of fruit, as I do walking into a McDonalds and scarfing down a meal. A life of travel has finally resulted in me feeling closer to a citizen of the world than ever before, but am I an asset to anywhere? My wandering touches many lives, and hopefully motivates many people, but what am I contributing? My time in Xela let me see the strength of lasting relationships, and had me questioning why, if relationships are so important to me being happy, am I living a life of solitude on the road?

Committing to this trip also opened up the opportunity to remodel 2 different kitchens and participate in a unique pre-fab home in Montana. It was fun, and they turned out well. I like making and designing things for people; fitting since I have a Masters in Architecture. The wood passes through my hands and turns into a functional table or cabinet and changes how a space is used and viewed. Miles on a bike computer or pictures filling up a memory card don’t have the same result.

San Juan del Sur, NicaraguaSan Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

In the end I was putting forth the effort and going through the motions like it was a torturous job. The flowers that I would stop to smell had no scent. The sunsets that I would watch with my feet buried in the sand and my camera in hand had no luster. Look at beautiful sunset, alone, take a picture to post to your website, check. Ride 75 miles in blistering heat, check. Admire your strength and resilience, smile at your tan lines, check. Cook more pasta, splurge on an onion and jalapeno for flare, check. Drink Coca-cola because you damn well deserve it and it tastes heavenly on a hot day in Costa Rica, check. This was no longer self-sustaining; what you put in comes back in the new sights, sounds, experiences, and excitement for what is ahead. My tank was not being refilled by these experiences.

Having committed to this decision, doors are opening faster than I can get through them. The world is certainly conspiring to make sure this is the right choice at the right time for me. I hold no regrets. The trip fulfilled my thirst for adventure and gave me a stack of memories; good, bad, and everything in between. What could have been doesn’t matter because what will be is much more important.

Kitted up for a chilly morning ride on Sue with a snow-capped Pikes Peak in the backgroundKitted up for a chilly morning ride on Sue with a snow-capped Pikes Peak in the background
Kitted up for a chilly morning ride on Sue with a snow-capped Pikes Peak in the background

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