these are a collective bunch of notes that i have taken over the past six months, since i completed my trans-america ride. this wasn’t the conclusion of the ride that i wanted, but it does go through some of the feelings that i have had about it.
i’ve been back in chicago for a week and a half now. i’ve cleaned most of the things that i had taken with me. i’ve repaired the ones that needed attention. i’ve been welcomed back to innerworkings. i’ve settled in.
i know things have changed while i was away and i know i’ve changed as well. the city is ever evolving and when you miss something, it comes as a surprise to find out about it a few weeks later. i had tried to keep up with the chicago area news, but really, that didn’t do much for me. i like to see things. i like to be a part of them. there are new restaurants, expansions, parks, they even moved stuff around inside the target by my house. i have rode around the city a little, and for the first week it seemed sort of surreal. like i had something that didn’t belong here. i really don’t know how to describe the feeling, but i’ll try.
when people hear about what i did, for how long i did it, for as many miles as i’ve traveled, sometimes they become concerned. i don’t think it’s a concern for me, but more of a concern for themselves. like they wouldn’t be able to do what i’ve done and they don’t understand how i did it. i still can’t grasp that it was a big accomplishment. others don’t know how to grasp how big it was. i think anyone could have done it, so it doesn’t seem that huge to me. i don’t understand how they don’t understand. you ride, then when you don’t feel like riding, you push yourself harder, then you camp, then you do it again. you feel alone, you feel great when you talk to people, you feel refreshed some days, you feel like you should stay in the tent on others. the big thing is that you can finish and overcome the fear of not having all the things we “need” on a day to day basis.
coming back to work was different. i don’t know what i was expecting. things changed, but things change all the time. there were a few organizational changes, different processes and me not doing the work that i do for two months definitely made me less able to recall certain things. i became frustrated the first week back. i wanted to be able to do things as easy as i had before i left. i couldn’t. i couldn’t do things the way they used to be done. i couldn’t recall how things were processed in some ways. after having my one on one with my supervisor, i apologized for my lack of speed and efficiency that i had prior to leaving. he laughed a little and said there was no need to apologize, that he understood it would take a little time for me to readjust. it made me feel much better.
the times that i was alone were the loneliest i’ve felt. the times that i spent with people that i had met while riding impacted me. i have thoughts and memories of these people from around the world that i had met, and i wonder about them and what they’ve been up to.
i miss being wild. yes, i miss having to just ride and keep riding. maybe it was having a goal to get somewhere, maybe it was the constant hard work that i had. i definitely miss having less body fat. how can i burn thousands of calories in a day and continue to work…and still have free time and eat/drink whatever i want.
i took a transfer for work. i’ll be leaving the city and going west to portland. i’ve been with the company for less than two years, i’ve invested a lot of time and energy with them and they’ve shown me nothing but appreciation and reward for all of my hard work. i’ve never been to portland, but i had a great time out west when i was rolling along. i miss the people that were kind for no reason other than to be nice. they didn’t need anything from you, they didn’t want you to like them, they were just polite and nice. definitely a bit different from chicago. now that i am settling down, i am ready to uproot and move.
i’ve been neglecting my bicycle. it definitely needs some attention. after the sea-key ride, i wanted to replace a few things and get everything back in working order. i know the tires are ripped up. i’ve been riding on the original tires for a while, because the tires were so bad. i know the cables are stretched. i know the chain is stretched. i know the brake pads are wore out. i know my seat makes noises. i know that because the chain is stretched, it’s also wore different areas on my chainring and cassette. those will probably have to be replaced too. my rotors are bent. my chainring is bent. my rear rack is cracked in two places. basically, i took a beautiful, brand new bicycle that was in perfect shape and rode it hard. with extra weight. for thousands of miles.
eventually, i’ll slowly replace everything in the order i feel is wearing the most. brake pads first. i’ll have to see if i can straighten the rotors.
there are days that i miss riding and feeling free. days that i miss the countryside. i heard about the guy who broke the record for most miles in a calendar year and i had two feelings. one: jealousy. mostly because he got to spend a year doing the thing i had only two months to do. i could go for a year. two: competition. i’m competitive. not like a boisterous competitive, more like a quiet “i can do better” competitive. it pushes me and sets goals above the sets of others. so yes, i heard about the guy who did that thing and i think i could do it with more. i don’t plan on doing it so i probably shouldn’t even mention it. just so you know, i’m not going to ride for a year and get +70k miles under my belt. at least it’s not in the outlook. (but i could)
i miss having fresh air every morning. trees around me. rain, sunshine, weather that shakes me with views that move me. the feelings that i get about the feelings that i have had…they pang. i want more adventure.
i got to see Stefan. i had first met him on the day before my ride. he picked me up from the airport, waited patiently because one of my bags missed the flight, showed me around seattle and accompanied me for the first twenty miles. Patrick had rode with me that morning as well, but he had to cut short the ride to get into the office. Both are amazing people and work hard to promote riding and the Livestrong foundation. Stefan lives just north of portland and offered to(once again) pick me up from the airport when i had arrived. it was good to recollect things and talk about the trip with him. i showed him some photos, talked about the effects of the ride on me and my life, and we enjoyed a few drinks. i can hardly wait to do some more riding with him.
now that the holidays are passed and portland living is feeling like a normal, everyday thing, i’m yearning more. the hills here are good. they have added some other muscle structure to my legs, not that they need it. i signed up for a ride with the office, in june. i had clicked on the century ride, to push myself a bit. i haven’t rode over a hundred miles in a day in months, since my sea-key ride. as it turns out, the office probably won’t do the century and was leaning more towards the other rides that are shorter. i’ll probably join them on that ride, rather than rolling out on my own for a while. i’m not sure of the terrain or route, so sticking with a shorter ride may turn out to be better than trying to navigate mountains and time. the office here is great and very healthy. in the future, i’ll probably be participating in most of the activities for both social and health reasons. i want to ride out and get some miles done, but i’m just being lazy. i can’t seem to get motivated.
sometimes i dream about my bicycle tour while riding my bike…i just close my eyes and pedal, thinking about where i’ve gone. i wonder if i’ll ever be the same as i was.