Off The Road

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Well this is it. The journey is complete. This is the part where I’m supposed to write about my revelations and reflect on everything I’ve learned over the past 10 months, right? Well let’s ease into that one. First I just need to write about the last two days. I left Philadelphia on Monday morning to be greeted with torrential downpours and a phone call from Scott telling me there was a tornado warning for the area. I had only biked about 10 miles out of town so I decided to turn around instead of biking the 100 some odd miles in the rain. I tried again Tuesday. Tuesday was much better. I left the city and rode 117 miles to my driveway. I took the scenic route home and made a few intentional ‘wrong turns’ and convenient detours to reach that 10,000 mile mark. I crossed the Delaware at the same point Washington did when he did that thing. I didn’t stop until I reached my driveway. There I shook my old man’s hand and hugged my mom. Then I got the best night’s sleep I’ve had this whole trip.

I reached my 10,000 mile goal. With an extra .04 miles for good measure. But Jim, you were right. It is just a number. The 10,000 mark doesn’t really mean a whole lot. What mattered were the relationships I built along the way (some good, some great). What mattered were the sights I saw. Standing under the arched in Moab. Staring at the Pacific Ocean from the Golden Gate Bridge. Standing on the Continental Divide atop Monarch Pass. These are the memories I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I am so unbelievably fortunate to have been able to share these memories with complete strangers, who then became friends. I’ll never forget that tap on my shoulder in Chicago from a gent named Yaris. Little did either of us know at that moment that we would be sharing some of the most magnificent experiences of our lifetime together. There’s just so much to process; visually, conversationally, and emotionally. This adventure was best measured in friendships, not in miles.

It wasn’t always easy. I thought about giving up a bunch of times. I think that ride between Milwaukee and Madison was the most trying experiences of my life. If not for Alex and his family, I could have very well taken the first bus home. It was my first experience with a lactic acid build up. I was convinced I was dying. They took care of me, kept me hydrated, and gave me bananas. Those things helped, but it was mostly knowing someone took a concern in my well-being that reassured me. Now I just laugh at the pain, because I know it will pass.

This blog served as an outlet for me to express glee, frustration, experience, astonishment, and love. Although it seemed to take a sharp left and deal almost entirely with me giving testimonials about my fleeting romantic trysts. I’d like to think it had a little more depth than that, but this blog was limiting. It really only ever painted one side of a picture which is problematic. I wrote to let off steam. So I feel that many positive experiences I felt, fell to the waist side when I would get to writing.

This last post is so scattered, I know. There’s just so much I want to get out. Once I have a little more time to process everything I’ve experienced, I think I’ll be able to sum it up a little more fluently. For now I really just want to acknowledge all the people who helped me out on this journey. To have so many people supporting me and providing me with uplifting comments on this blog was astounding. I am forever indebted to you all for your insight. I realize how fortunate I am, and I do my best not to take that for granted. I’m fortunate enough to have a grandmother who helped pay for my college education so I could afford to embark on such a trip. I was fortunate to grow up in a camping oriented family who taught me how to appreciate nature. I was fortunate in surrounding myself with a supportive group of friends who urged me to simply ‘go for it’. I was fortunate to meet Yaris who taught me not to sweat the small stuff and try to be a better person. It’d be straight up arrogant to say I completed this journey on my own. There’s no way I could have don’t it without you. Yeah, you reading this. Thank you. I also want to thank Hans Rey for allowing me to cycle for Wheels4Life. It was an honor and a privilege to ride for such a worthy cause.

I would love to end this blog with some poignant and prolific statement, but to be perfectly honest, the most poignant and prolific statements made on this blog have been made in the comment section. So I think I’ll just end it with ‘Thank you’. Thank you for teaching me more about myself than I could ever have. If you’ve yet to take that leap and try something you’ve never don’t before, do it! You may not end up with what you originally desired, but I can guarantee you’ll learn something new about yourself and those around you.

I don’t really know what’s in store for me now. I went out in search of America. I went out in search of myself. I want to think I found them both, but I know I didn’t. No, I just got a glimpse of each. And I liked what I saw. Ok, I guess that’s it. Go ride a bike. You’ll never know where it takes you.

Stats:

Wash Day:

Miles: 21.92

Time: 2:11:06

Calories: 827

Total Ascent: 427 ft.

Day 151:

Miles: 116.0

Time: 10:43:04

Calories: 4746

Total Ascent: 3169 ft.

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3 responses to “Off The Road

  1. Tom
    Your journey is not over, just this chapter. This may seem trite, but you are the author of your own story. And anyone reading this blog will tell you, you can tell a great story. I am so proud of you, not because of the things you have accomplished, but because of the person you are. There is so much more I want to say to you there isn’t enough room on this computer for all the love in my heart for you and your sister. One hug is not enough……

  2. Tom – I have had the privilege to get your blog from your Mom after listening to her tell us about our journey during work. Your writing has intrigued me and think that some day this journal/blog may turn into something big/more. You wrote from the heart and told stories with humor/sincerity/compassion and I looked forward to reading it at night. Now it will just be reminiscing your experiences with Mom at lunch time and glad I was given your site read. On another note, I know as a mother, your family will sleep better knowing you returned safe!

  3. Thank you for sharing your journey, I was so lucky to meet you .
    And I am so glad you made it home to your family safe.

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