My good buddy (and new roommate) Ryan wanted to get into bike touring as he just put together a SOMA touring bike. Me, Ryan, and our other friend Mark, spent weeks planning a short bike tour; figuring out dates, routes, what gear to bring, and training for the long haul. Mark had to pull out at the last minute, so it was Ryan and I to make the maiden voyage of these group #UnplugYou weekend bike tours.
Saturday morning came and Ryan and I were eager to get on the road. After some last minute prep, basically us making some bomb ass sandwiches for lunch, we geared up. It was a cool, crisp morning. Leaving the house at 9am, we had all the time in the world to get to Pt. Reyes, about 40+ miles north of SF. Riding through the Presidio, we warmed our legs up, breathing in the cool air, watching the two beautiful towers of the Golden Gate approach.
We reached Marin country and we were off. We did our first climb and we were… well, beat. Holy, shit we were beat.
We are (were) two out of shape dudes*. Well, not that out of shape, but enough to were we knew our bike legs were not as 100% ready as they could have been. But, screw it. Ryan and I come from a breed of people that, when faced with challenges and adversity, we push through, we give it our all and make it out on the other end—beat up, tired, but proud that we didn’t give up.
This got me thinking back to The Alabamboo Make & Ride and the FPX: Iceland bike tour, and how, when pushing myself (in all of these cases while bike touring), that it is a full mind and body experience. I cannot express this enough. As much as my body is pedaling my bike up steep accents, riding through headwinds, and sitting on that saddle for miles and miles, it is my mind that is just as present and just as vulnerable.
This bike tour got me thinking again, how, when approaching uncertainty in both the terrain I’m riding on or in my life in general, that I need to simply keep going. Even though I’m not quite sure what’s beyond that slight uphill, or what’s around that bend, I do not. I keep going. What’s the alternative? To stop in my tracks, turn around, and head back, not reaching my destination? Ha! That would be dumb.
Because all of these old emotions and life lessons coming back to me, I choose not to take photos while on the bike. I wanted to focus on the ride, absorb my environment, and listen to my thoughts and body. Every so often, Ryan and I drifted apart and I found myself alone with my thoughts and in a way of thinking that I haven’t been exposed to in over a year, since one of my last long rides. It felt great to find myself back in this unique mindset.
Some of you know this, others do not. I consider my bike, my church. I mediate when I ride through miles of open roads. The environment around me is my gospel. I’m able to clear up concerns and stress, think of new ideas, become at peace with certain aspects in my life.
I’m at my most happiest while digging my legs, one in front of the other, elevating feet by feet, ascending the side of a mountain, sweating, hurting, feeling the fresh air against my face, smelling the trees, or in some cases, cow shit. I am at my most happiest when I reach a summit, knowing there’s a sweat downhill coming up.
After an epic three mile, 700+ feet ascent on the last climb of our ride, we flew downhill to the coast/camp site. What a sight!
We set up camp and headed to the beach, taking in the awesomeness of what the Pt. Reyes coast has to offer. We spent the rest of the night cooking and talking (boy talk), gazing up at the stars/Milky Way, and warming our hands (and feet) near the grill. The night brought near freezing temperatures. Brrr.
November has been such a transformative month for me and this bike ride couldn’t have come at a better time for me. As I was able to dust off some of the life lessons learned from The Alabamoo Make & Ride and FPX: Iceland, it reminded me of the fact that I need to get off my ass and do more; climb that mountain, gain more confidence, push myself like I used to, sweat, see new lands, get dirty, focus on what’s in front of me, focus on myself, ask tougher questions, etc. This year has presented me with some challenges that I’ve overcome, but challenges that have bruised me nonetheless. All this bruising has made me stronger. 2014 will be different.
Maybe I’m a crazy guy on a bike, but I find making sense of “all of this” much better when comparing things to being on two wheels.
I’m happy that I’ve been able to keep up with these #UnplugYou weekends for over a year now. I encourage all of you to simply logout, turn off, and unplug. Take some time for yourself and explore new lands, do something that pushes your limits, ask some tough questions.
*A few weeks ago, I fell on my tailbone as I was trying to mount my bike. This was the 4-5 time in life that I’ve fell straight on my ass (literally) and it is one of the worst feelings/pain a body can deliver. Because of this, I was not able to keep up with my daily running or get on the bike for a bit.
All that being said, I was not in the most tip-top shape leading into this 90-100 mile bike tour. Again, the first bike tour I’ve been on—shoot, even the first long bike ride I’ve had in a very long time.