Way back in 1995, when I first thought about climbing Mt. Rainier, I started reading real life adventure books. Up in the attic, in 4 big tupperware containers is the resulting library. I have books on mountain climbing, arctic travels, rafting rivers and, of course, cycling. (We have a small house and no room for a big book case)
I am reading one now, and will review it as soon as I am done. As much as I enjoy them, sometimes they make me sad. Here I am, living a cushy life, soft bed, great wife, plenty of food, and a decent job. Yet when I read these stories, I see what I could have done when I was younger.
Shoot I have one friend, Sarah, (Honoring my Compass ) who is currently cycling Patagonia, and another two friends Megan and Poodle (Great World Trek) who motorcycled from Tierra del Fuego to Texas, and will now go from Ethiopia to South Africa.
Instead I did the responsible thing, got a job, raised two great kids and got tubby…
But then last week, I read something that made my day.
Sarah, from the wilds of Patagonia, reached out on Facebook, and sent me this article, “The Bicycle is Where my Adventuring Heart Lies” by Alastair Humphreys. I loved it and have reread it about 7 times so far…
I won’t go into detail on the whole article. Its short and worth the read, but the message it gives warmed this wishful adventurers heart. He say’s:
The bicycle is where my adventuring heart lies. It’s the most versatile, all-purpose accessory to adventure ever invented.
A motorbike may be faster; walking may be slower (there is a time and a place for both fast adventure and slow adventure). Kayaks, and canoes and crampons may get you to wilder places. Living and working in a foreign land may immerse you deeper into a culture. But a journey by bike does a pretty good job at every one of these aspects.
More than once I have read, from Mark Twain to Joe Kuramaskie, that the bicycle is the mode of travel that allows you to truly experience the world around you. You can go as far and as fast as you want, see everything there is to see, hear the sounds and smell the smells. Nothing matches the experiences of bike.
It doesn’t matter how far you ride, how old you are or where you ride. The key is just to saddle up and ride. On my last ride, just along the bike trail I saw these little ones just learning the joy of a bike
This lady who seems to have been riding a bit longer
These two who were on their way home from a bike camping trip
And this guy who was out for the pure fun of it.
Speaking of fun NO one had more fun than this little guy
Each of these people and 100s more on Sunday were out on the trail for their own reasons. Friends, exercise, stress relief, fun or just because it was NOT raining,
Regardless, just pointing your nose in a direction and moving yourself with just your leg muscles, can be an adventure.
The key though, is you have to let it be so! It is not about the speed, or the distance, it’s the journey. The sights you see that non riders never will
The animals you spot because you go slower
and most importantly, the memories.
I look back over the last 8 years and I can tell you so many stories (shoot it’s how this blog started). Climbs that almost beat me (one did and I came back!)
Torrential rain during a ride, freezing cold, killer heat and ugly winds. Descents that still make me smile, crashes that make me cringe. Feat and apprehension that I would not complete a ride and the joys of when I proved myself wrong!
I have ridden 200 miles in one day, to the highest points (by road) of 2 national parks, ridden across two states, and dug deep time and again to finish on pure guts, a hot dog and hell yeah, a Diet Mountain Dew
I will never cycle around the world, or hell, maybe not even across the United States. I won’t summit Everest or even Rainier. I am a 50-year-old dude working for an insurance company.
BUT, there is no telling what I will see or experience when I break out the bike. I will ride the steepest hills I can get to, find the prettiest places, and this fall, I will ride the Oregon Coast again!
I just need to cut myself a little slack. I’ve had more adventures than most, been places not many will go to, and seen things others only read about
I will always wish I would’ve seen and done more, but you know, I’ve seen and done a helluva lot!
Like the wind folks, and go have an adventure!