Yesterday I was going through old notes, and I came across this post I wrote back in March, having been home from the states for a month. I have no idea why I didn’t post it at the time. But with pre-trip nerves for NZ in glorious full swing, it seems rather apt to share it now…
50 states beyond the comfort zone
“I bet you hate cycling now, don’t you?” The questioner looks at me, eyes wide, a knowing nod waiting in the wings as if my response is a forgone conclusion. I disappoint them, and gleefully. After cycling solidly for 7 months, through every type of weather and terrain imaginable – my days back in the corporate world are bookended by two simple joys. The ride to work. And the ride home.
When I left the UK bound for the US, I wasn’t entirely prepared. I mean, I was spread-sheeted up to my eyeballs, I had maps and kit and gadgets coming out of my ears, but the physical challenge – well, that was a whole other level of unknown. Of course I had a ‘base’ of fitness, but short of riding round the British countryside all day every day, I was never going to replicate the 11,000 miles ahead.
What I discovered over the months that followed, shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did. Let it be known that he human body is an incredible machine. The mind a far greater one. And that if you guide both with a firm, but steady hand in a single direction, sooner or later (granted sometimes it’s later), they’ll catch on. They just have to.
Between thinking and doing
I was nervous about the pedal across the desert, and yet, other than one unhinged chef, a deranged waitress and an aggressive racoon, that turned out to be rather fun, beautiful even. I had some concerns about making it over the Rockies on a fully loaded tourer – In the end I had such a blast on first two mountain passes, that I changed route and sought out three more for good measure. I was worried about making it to Maine ahead of Winter – In early November I wheeled across the state border wearing shorts, and under sunny skies.
In fact, all the parts of the trip that turned out to be scary, troublesome or challenging, I had no idea they were about to be (fancy that). So when they did, I was rather preoccupied with the the task at hand, and a little too busy to be afraid.
It strikes me, more often than not, that the worry, the build up of self-doubt, the play-out of each and every scenario that could lead to disaster, it never happens. So you may just as well skip the fear part and wade head long into the doing. You could argue that it’s a dangerous mindset to have. But once the lid’s off that box, once you’ve tasted the high that only a leap into the unknown can bring, there’s no going back. And so, sat typing this from comfort of my office chair, I find myself looking at a map again. And I think:
“I couldn’t possibly… well, actually … maybe, I could…”