We are now just a few days from departing on the trip to Washington. Our clothes are laid out as we try to lock in on the very few things we’ll have for three weeks of travel. I’ve gone through the bike tools and our small cook-kit and tiny stove. I’ve washed the sleeping bags. I keep making lists of last minute items I do not want to forget. I’ve got the maps and other route information together and feel pretty good about our daily plans and am pretty sure we have a place to sleep every night.
We are also working on getting our bodies in shape for what we will be expecting them to do in the coming weeks. We’ll be riding 19 out of the 21 days of the trip, averaging about 75 miles a day. Our first six days are all over 80 miles each (boot camp!) Our training plan has been to do as many long rides as possible – we’ve done a couple 70 plus rides, and several over 50. Lisa works out on a stationary bike daily and I’ve been continuing my long walks and elliptical workouts between bike rides. Still, the first few days will be hard, undoubtedly. Doing very long rides day after day is the challenge. It is kind of relentless.
Maybe the most difficult element of the preparation is mental. It is good to be prepared, of course. But what I’ve learned on previous trips is that as you think about what to be prepared for, it is easy to slip into worst case scenario thinking. And that can be debilitating, because the worst case scenario is pretty scary.
I think of a couple quotes I’ve picked up from songwriters I admire. Warren Zevon said in an interview on why people write that it is because “the world is a scary place, a menacing place, an exciting place because it is scary and menacing. But, mainly, kind of glorious.” And Greg Brown said once that “all life is pretty much wonder and terror and they are the same thing.”
If you followed us on our 2018 New Orleans trip, you know that I am prone to fretting, while Lisa is more likely to see the wonder of our experience. We’ve done several long trips since that one and I think I am getting better at trying to appreciate how glorious the world is and that I am in it, and experiencing it with wonderful friends and family. I am now working on being conscious and awake on the trip, noticing as much as possible, the landscape, the sounds of spring, the blossoming flowers, how my body is feeling and thinking only of the current day’s work – getting safely to the next town.
We’ll see how successful I’ll be! Meanwhile, we watch the long range weather forecast and note that we may have a wet start on this one. That’s ok, we need the rain.