Only 30 days to go. A month, just over 4 weeks before I set out on my bicycle ride across the United States. My route will take the shape of an 'arc' from East to West before it descends in a straight line, along the coast of California, to the City of Angels.
I am going to cycle 5000 miles in under 40 days: it is easy writing this sitting at home with a t-shirt and in my underwear. And yet much of the suffering that comes with this goes unnoticed and unspoken of. The long hours on the bike with fingers and toes gone numb, the hum of the wheels and the chain, the lonely bird that takes flight as I whizz by its resting place; the walk up to front desk in the motel with my legs a paste of grease and sweat and my face a shameful mess in the hope that the man will quickly say to me “we do have a room”; the confused thoughts swirling in my head as I lay in bed with my muscles still warm and my legs still going unable to fall asleep with the awareness that in 8,7, now 6 hours I will have to be up for another 100 miles+ day on the road hoping that the wind will subside and that the rain will stay away..
I never ride the bike just to ride. The bicycle for me is a means to explore, to travel at my own pace. I’m not a bicycle freak, I’m not a cyclist. But now that I have my body and mind wrapped around this crazy mission I feel like one. However, truth be told: I can’t even remember how many times while I was on the road last year on my 2012 Relentless For a Cure ride I swore that I would never ride my bicycle again, let alone contemplating another cross-country ride. When I reached Vancouver I said to myself “I am not gonna to put myself through this again, I’m done”. But, as with most things in life, time distorts memories. It gets all sappy and romantic. And so, these past months, every time I walked into the common room in the office where I work, I would throw a defiant glance at the big World Map on the wall. Every time the itch grew stronger. And so, by the end of April, I had made up my mind. One more time, one more dance. Maybe a little tougher this time; maybe a little longer. Why not?
The continuous stress and strain of 35 straight days of rigorous discipline will lead to some “side-effects”: excitement tapers off, expectations dampen, self-doubt and even fear emerge, and when that happens it is only a matter of time before the energy saps away. So how do I fend off against this? My strategy involves saving the best bits for the latter part of the journey; doing a fundraising that I believe in; and asking friends to support me along the way. Is that enough? Of course not. But I’ll take my chances.
As anyone who's been on the road for more than a month will tell you, the great joy of a long road trip is the anticipation, the wait before the actual journey. And now that I am one month away from day 1 of 5000 miles for water my imagination is set ablaze by images and day dreams of what the trip will actually be like. It's the best excitement I can think of, an adrenaline rush which disarms my senses, a sense of expectation in its purest, most childish form, in other words: I can't freaking wait! Yes I cannot even wait for the pain which will come with it: the eastward wind, the blustery conditions, the rain, the early morning cold of the mountains, the shoulderless highways, the trucks whizzing by me which make one second last like a lifetime, the sweet loneliness of solo traveling, the longing for familiar things, the people you meet going the opposite direction, the sweat, the middle of nowhere sunsets, the empty sky, the promise of an immortal landscape behind the next hill. The sense of possibility.
I have done it before, I have cycled across the US before and I am fully aware that I can control only a tiny slice of what's head, much is left to luck or chance. Or God, if you are into that. 5000 miles in under 40 days is insane, impossible for me, cocky, superficial, futile, forgettable. Maybe. All I know is that I am on the verge of another big dream coming true. This is all I need to know.
4 more weeks of training. Feeling strong.