22 years. What do 22 years mean?
Itís almost exactly 22 years ago that I started these bike trips. I had a sabbatical year after ten years of teaching, and I figured a good way to former past second and third grade students who had moved from the area would be to take a little bike ride across the country. I had just gotten interested in biking back in 1980, and also figured I could take some good pictures to show the folks back home.
So, after doing a little reading and getting in better shape, I flew out to San Francisco, biked south into Mexico a bit, then across the southwestern desert, across the Mississippi at St. Louis, and then sprinted continually east to the shores of the Atlantic. That first trip was originally going to be the first AND last, but I suppose the biking bug had bit hard, and so now - on this trip - Iíll be biking in the last of the states to make it all 50 for me!!!! Also, on this trip Iíll roll over my 500th bike touring day - more than a year of my life seeing the world from a bicycle seat!
Through the amazing miracle of
digital retrieval I can plunk down here many of those very first words from that
first trip and others. Hereís what I wrote back when leaving on that first tour
in early March of 1980:
ďI had just been left at the
airport in New York.
I had never felt so alone.
I was about to be jetted the very furthest away Iíd ever been from home. I was about to be ripped from a nice cozy existence where my week was secure and neatly planned, to a life where every hour would be uncharted and new.
This was where all the bravado and big talk of the last couple months ended - and the reality of thousands of miles would begin. This was where the study and practice and workouts would have to start meshing together with some sort of everyday luck.
Success would mean living as Iíd never lived, propelling myself over 4,000 unknown miles through whole populations that were foreign to me. It would demand an extended physical exertion Iíd never known, taking me over parts of a huge continent where Iíd never been.
It would test my resolve, my training, my sense of adventure, my independence, my strength, my knowledge of people, and my ability to be separated from loved ones.
None of this really needed to be tested. And I began with a nervous apprehension mingled with a sense of high appreciate for the adventure to come.
I already missed my home, my comfy lifestyle - but at the same time, boy-oh-boy, was I ever looking forward to the next day....Ē
And so it is with this trip - again being jetted away - THIS time though even further away from home than before. (A whole bunch of time zones, and 4,920 miles away to be exact!) The planned 250+ miles of bicycling will be among the shorter trips - but it was 22 years in getting here, so Iíll sure try to savor it mightily.....
The trips are for the bicycling mainly. For meeting people and for the photography secondarily. But another of the main enjoyments has always been taking a good chunk of the day to scribe down all the trials and tribulations of the day - and share it with those interested. To use those wonderful things called words to try and breathe life into my experiences. Now, instead of ink pen and paper for my scrawly journal notes, I use a most modern 12-inch screened, 5-pound Apple Macintosh I-book on which I can take my words and send them anywhere in the world. Now not only can I scrawl out descriptives and outlines of my day, but with the help of a nifty digital camera, I can take a picture and share it with anyone on the planet who has access to a computer and a modem.
One other notes about these notes. I usually get one of two comments about them - one is that I go into waaaaayyyy toooooo much boring detail for some readers. The other is from people who say they feel like they are right along with me riding - and they love having that armchair experience without actually sweating up the Rockies or dealing with the camping stuff themselves. I hope you are one of the latter.
Also, please donít hesitate to email me along the way if you have a question or comment. Grist for some of the entries is made up of things Iíve overlooked writing about, but that someone has kindly pointed out to me.
These journal pages are for a broad audience. Some may know bicycling, camping, photography, geography, or bike touring intimately. Some may not know the difference between a spoke-wrench and a monkey wrench. But as I write for myself into the future (when I may not even be able to get ON a bicycle, much less pedal it for hundreds of miles), Iíll also try to write for yíall - and hoping against hope that youíll find some of this of interest, useful, entertaining - or perhaps just as a good antidote to insomnia...
Each bike trip has brought new views, and I can recall the trips in my memory, i can look at the photos, i can reread my journal notes - but there is NOTHING like that excitement and thrill of having the whole experience in front of you. Each trip is like that to a lesser degree: the unknown... the fear of failure, the anticipation of success. But going out for the first time in my opinion is a wonderfully powerful and enviable feeling.