One week from departure, just back from a quick 40 mile ride which felt very easy, I do want to describe my feelings. I can’t wait to just get started, for one thing. We’ve been planning this trip for over a year now, maybe closer to two. We’ve studied maps, selected equipment, trained our bodies, made arrangements at work and at home. I’ve also, in the course of planning, in the interest of “being prepared,” tried to think of everything that could go wrong – so, you know, we could be prepared for those things. Well, a lot can go wrong. One night when we were visiting with friends after dinner, I started listing the things that could go wrong: rain, tornadoes, getting lost, getting attacked by farm dogs, bugs, fire ants, snakes, heat and dehydration, bike breakdowns… and someone said “wait, isn’t this supposed to be fun?”
Her question reminded me that this is not only supposed to be fun, but that it WILL be fun, partly because it is full of unknowns. That is what adventure is all about. We recently encountered a quote from Wendell Berry that is apropos: “Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into. You are undertaking the first experience, not of the place, but of yourself in that place. It is an experience of our essential loneliness, for nobody can discover the world for anybody else. It is only after we have discovered it for ourselves that it becomes common ground and a common bond, and we cease to be alone.” (Wendell Berry, The Unforeseen Wilderness: Kentucky’s Red River Gorge)
Will those bad things I imagined happen? I don’t know…maybe some of them will. And so will sunny days, downhills, great campsites, a hot shower when we need it, new friends and sights we’ve never seen. Let’s get going.