The Revolution Will Not Be Motorized
I reached the west coast on Earth Day. My website, Biking With Intent, has the tagline “cycling for sustainability.” I set out on this journey across the country in an attempt to learn how to start my own closed loop, self-sustaining community. These ideals remain my motivating force in life and guide me down the road ahead. However, when I am asked to speak about my coast to coast adventure the immediate memories that flood my mind have to do with the people I met along the way and the remarkable ways that they have enriched my life. Large and small, their generous contributions to my tour affected me in deeper ways than I can adequately express through words. I am not about to bore you with a list of these folks and their influences, but I will use this opportunity to comment on the ways of the world while on the road.
First of all, no matter how much planning you may direct into touring, nothing will ever go exactly according to plan and in my experience it will go better than you could have ever expected if you remain open, flexible and positive. The single most tried and true mantra during my journey was “The Universe will Provide!” I am not suggesting that you take off blindly and rely on the gifts of strangers to survive, although I do urge you to leave room for deviation and let go of hard and fast expectations.
People want to help passionate individuals and they will seize any opportunity to be involved in an adventure they themselves wouldn’t dare dream to take on. The more grateful I was to be on the receiving end of such kindness; the more humble they were and insisted that they were the lucky ones to have met me. It continues to blow my mind when I recall how many individuals expressed that I had inspired them to action, as if meeting and helping me reminded them of goals and desires they had neglected and they were once again filled with the urge to challenge themselves or at least hold themselves accountable for unfulfilled exploits.
People will open their hearts to those willing to reciprocate. I was given food, shelter, money, rides, supplies, encouragement, blessings and love in abundance. I would even go so far as to deem this type of lifestyle as sustainable long term if one were willing to stop and contribute along the way, always giving back in the greatest way you possibly could.
I ended up touring in the simplest way I could fathom. Myself, my bike, my tent, my micro camp stove, my bike repair necessities, my chamois, my computer and my camera. I must admit that I started the trip with much more than was really necessary and quickly learned how important it was to shed excess weight. I left Sarasota, Florida on November 8th and by late December I’d realized I no longer needed my trailer, got rid of two-thirds of my clothing, gave up on the GPS and bike computer, mailed my books to friends and shoes to my family.
Thanks to my new found friend Zac, (The Pondering Cyclist) in Dallas, I switched to panniers and let go of so much I was initially afraid to give up. I felt lighter in every way. It allowed me to move at whatever pace and in whatever direction I felt compelled. This meant an entire month spent riding through Florida, over two months around Texas, a week here and there when I couldn’t be bothered to rush away and even a small get away to Colorado via bus during my moment of question -- when my personal faith was tested. My intention was never just to make it from one coast to the other, but to experience as much of the country I could as I rode across.
Those who didn’t travel or cycle were often scared and saddened by my lack of creature comforts and I even had another touring cyclist tell me that I had nothing I needed and not much else. I arrived into San Diego, California on April 22nd , dirt poor bywestern standards but filthy rich in happiness, with an excess of gratitude and an over indulgence in amazement.
The beauty of this world is grounding. The therapeutic qualities of pedaling for hours, days, weeks and months on end is inspirational to say the least. In my experience, riding my bicycle and living on the road allowed me to be truly present in every moment.
No longer preoccupied with the possibilities of the future, nor hindered by thoughts of the past, I was able to be completely aware and accepting of what was happening. I’ve never felt so free or healthy in body and mind. Even the most challenging moments, when true difficulties arose and my safety and sanity were in danger, I felt conscious and capable of my ability to adapt and overcome. This was of course reinforced and upheld by the unceasing compassion of my fellow human. I was simply a conduit through which positivity was spread.