Thursday, December 15, 2011

shwee says adieu

The other day, I stepped onto two jumbo oil guzzling jets, sat for just 5 hours, and unraveled all that I had pedaled with my own two legs and my trusty bike over the past two and a half months! (Miraculously, I managed only two flats the entire trip and a rear brake pad replacement!) The differences in scale between my cross country bike trip and just another flight amaze me. I thought of all the energy, time, sore muscles, campsites, bananas, and nutty bars that have already faded into memories. Biking cross country was all consuming in a way I have never experienced or could have anticipated. It’s hard to recall how or what I did before this trip, especially at this point in my life when I don’t have a routine, a normal…hell, I don’t even have a job, place to live (thanks, Mom and Dad), or any idea what and where to do next! So I realized that the journey and adventure isn’t ending. I have nothing to go “back to.” I can only go forward. I’ll just keep pedaling, if you will. I’ll keep pedaling towards something that is abstract, real but unknown, imaginable but barely believable, that is until I arrive. Be present. Believe. Persevere. Anything is possible.

As I slide into the holiday season, cozy, warm, and well-fed at my parent’s home in Salt Lake City, I’ve had some time to reflect. Reflect on the journey, as well as noodle on ideas for my immediate future (any ideas or job opportunities are welcome!) Here’s my list of what I’ve learned and want to take with me off the bike:

-The courage to start the day not knowing where I’ll end up, see, or do.
- Complete lack of self conscientiousness. This includes what I am wearing, what I am eating—how much and at what time, and in general, how I look or smell.
-Complete and attentive self awareness: recognizing my physical, mental, and emotional states and acting accordingly or simply accepting it.
It’s amazing what a snack, hug, deep breath, good cry and/or moment away from the bike will cure!
- Nothing is ever really that bad.
As Bertie Stoker once said, “You’ll either die or get over it.” I had to remind myself several times that I wasn’t going to die, but even still, it’s okay to sob aloud or yell aggressively at the open road. The people in their cars (if there are any…) can’t hear you and biking companions, like true friends, at least pretend they can’t hear you or that the conglomerate spit, snot, tears, and/or rain all over your face is perfectly normal.
-Ask for help or advice, even if you already have a “plan.”
-Physically exertion. Every day…
-…Yet honoring rest days to the point of revolting sloth-like existence and boredom, but absolutely relishing in it!
-Always forgive bikers. Trust me, they don’t want to be on the left side of the white line any more than we, in our cars, want them there.
-Enjoy the journey.
-Be present.
-Laugh at the absurdity, unexpected, peculiar, and seemingly ill fortune of a moment.
-“It really doesn’t matter where you live.” –Kris Burt in Norwalk, OH
-Put up with the uphill, because what goes up, always comes back down.
-Enjoy the downhills in life, as short and sweet as it is; don’t focus on the uphill ahead ‘til you’re on it. (Also, uphills always look worse than they really are, unless you’re on Pennsylvania’s 77…)
-Trust someone else completely, especially when dealing with directions.
I’ve learned that my internal GPS is 90% of the time wrong. Carolyn’s is 99% of the time dead on.
-Nothing lasts: cold, warm, uphill, downhill, head wind, tail wind, caffeine, bad moods, cherished snacks, bad smells, good eating habits, bad eating habits, alarms, chamois butt’r, and expectations.
-Life is balanced in more ways than I’ll ever understand. For every low I felt, within hours, I’d be having the best day of my life and vice versa.
-Be kind to strangers.
-Be thankful for my food and savor every bite of energy.
-Adventures are best shared.
-It’s never too late to form a new best friend.
-The journey never really ends…(Thanks, Drew).

Peace, Love, Happiness, and Biking,


  1. Nice stuff.. Maybe someday I will do a cross country trip..
    One of my observation on a long bike trip, you can go on long after you think you can't go anymore..

  2. I love it! I've never done more than a week at a time on a bike, but they are among the best weeks of my life.

  3. Way congratulations! I actually never thought you'd make it all the way out there, especially with the weather! (I would only have made it to, maybe, Idaho! A real accomplishment. Now make it a metaphor for your lives!

    Mitch Hall