Through a very attenuated grapevine, I heard that someone from my past recently took a solo cross-country bike trip. She averaged about 100 miles a day and kept a blog about the experience. A few nights ago, I read most of her travelogue until the wee hours of the morning, thoroughly enthralled.
I would never stay up past bedtime just to read through the “Older Posts” section of my blog. Here I am, often taking weekly shots at people I barely know, while this fearless adventurer is describing what it’s like to pedal across 4 time zones with not much more than a cell phone and a debit card.
She shacked up with any friends or relatives who lived in towns along her route, and otherwise bunked at a new motel every night. She stayed in close touch with her parents (who are huge right-wingers – I can’t believe they supported something this cool) who helped her book the motels along the way and advised her of which roads to take or avoid.
Since I usually encourage any form of unconventional risk-taking, I spent about 24 hours thinking that maybe this was something I, too, should do before I get too old or tied down. First, I would have to buy a souped-up bicycle and a helmet. Then I would have to soup myself up, to get used to riding a bike for more than a few miles at a stretch. And then there would be the tragedy of having to go on leave from my job for at least a month.
But once I finally caught up on sleep, I remembered the last time I tried using my two legs to cross state lines by myself. When I tried walking from Northern Vermont to the Canadian border (in flip-flops), following what I thought was a clearly-marked trail map, I ended up on the front lawn of a house in a suburban residential neighborhood, much like the one I grew up in.
The blog postings about my own coast-to-coast bike romp would be heartbreaking. They would be all about losing my phone somewhere in Montana or getting dysfunctionally dehydrated on a dirt road in Durango, Colorado. I would have my first asthma attack in years and/or be bitten by a snake. All of the stories I’d get out of the experience would be at my extreme emotional and financial expense, and this is not a cause worth sacrificing myself for.
I dare not cycle cross-country – or cross-town – without a crisis-management-certified chaperone in close tow.
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