Alright, so I had a change in plans.
Last post I was writing about my plans to continue my ride from where I left off, however, I changed my mind.
The original plan was that I'd bicycle out to Pueblo, Colorado and meet my husband and three children there, continuing onward to Mesa Verde, Zion and Arches National Parks with them. But, I honestly had no plans to prep for this ride as I had in 2016. I just really thought, I have the stuff so I'll just figure it (everything else) out when I get in Goreville, IL.
And then it all clicked...I don't want to ride my bike this summer. I want to prep for my family vacation WITH my family, instead of passing along the "to-do" list to my husband and say, "see ya in Colorado!". I want to spend the three weeks preceding this big adventure with my family, instead of on my own cycling through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and part of Colorado.
So, that's what happened. I was able to go away for a week with my family, including an overnight with my daughter and my mother to Galena, Illinois. I went with my husband to see our friend perform at Steppenwolf Theater in Guards at the Taj. I attended graduation parties for two special high school seniors. My husband and I attended our friends' wedding.
Will I ride my bicycle again, hundreds or thousands of miles? Yes, I really do believe I will. I don't know when that will be, but I see it down the road.
2016 took me 1,100 miles from Yorktown, VA to Goreville, IL. It was such a challenging experience, one that changed me. For no "good" reason, I barely rode my bike the rest of 2016 and 2017, often times thinking back to the +3 week ride that took me away from my family May-June 2016.
Now, with 2018 just days away and having recently celebrated my 38th birthday, I'm gearing up (no pun intended!) for my next adventure. I'm planning a ride from Goreville, IL (where I left off) on to Pueblo, CO, nearly 1,100 miles taking about 3 weeks.
Similar to having that second baby, I'm in such a different place this time around, as I anticipate my cycling adventure. I'm super excited, but I have some perspective over the planning and anticipations.
Join me as 2018 unfolds, as will my planning and adventuring!
Day 15: Arrived in McKee, KY and stayed wtih Jim and the kids for two nights; it was such a great time together. Normal kid stuff, lots of dogs around and really just appreciated my time with them.
Day 16: Rest day (0 miles)
Day 17: McKee to Berea, maybe 25 miles. I rode without my panniers (Jim took them in the minivan) and I met the family in Berea. We stopped at the bike stop nearby and my family drove me to stay with Maya, my amazing host & friend from Berea. I can't say enough about how wonderful she was and how she lifted my spirits, especially after saying goodbye to my family. I also successfully changed my first flat tire on my ride.
Day 18: Cycled about 45 miles to Harrodsburg to stay at a YMCA facility; I had wifi, showers, and indoor space to sleep, which I appreciated as the sirens went off twice because of thunderstorms.
Day 19: Cycled about 45 miles to Bardstown, the bourbon capital of the world! Ate well, slept well.
Day 20: Spent day cycling about 52 miles to Sonora, KY to stay at a guest house; it was so wonderful to be cared for by my hosts, Charlie and Rose. They fed me, shared some brews, and I slept so well.
Day 21: Went forward to Fordsville, about 60 miles for the day. The rain fell fast and hard, luckily catching me close to an elementary school the second time. I stayed dry that time, ate my dinner and cycled on a couple miles to my campsite at a county park.
Day 22: Spent the night in Sebree at a church, about 55 miles cycling in Kentucky. The facilities were amazing, and I greatly appreciated the kindness the church showed to cyclists.
Day 23: Cycled about 55 miles to Cave-in-Rock, Illinois!! Crossing over the border felt so victorious!! I met my parents, visiting from northern Illinois, and settled in to a relaxing stay at the state park.
Day 24: Rest day (0 miles)
Day 25: Cycled about 60 miles to Goreville, IL to stay at Fern Clyffe State Park. When I was circling the sites, a gentleman called over "TRAIL MAGIC!", so I rode over and was delighted to find he and his wife welcoming me to their site. They allowed me to camp on their site (so to avoid the $20 fee), fed me a great dinner and cooked me up breakfast the next morning.
Day 26: I woke up, feeling that today was the day I was finished. I can't explain it any better than I woke up peacefully feeling that my adventure was done. I had traveled 1,100 miles on my bicycle, and I felt accomplished and ready to be home. I called my husband, and he was supportive either way. It came down to the feeling that I just didn't want to keep cycling. I had days coming up that were going to be much hotter, Missouri and Kansas intimidated me, from a cyclist's persepective, and I just didn't want to continue. It wasn't that I thought I couldn't; if I was told, "AMY, YOU NEED TO CONTINUE!!", I think I could wrap my head around it and go on. But I just don't feel internally motivated to keep on; I am ready to be home with my children and husband, and I feel really good about what I've done in my cycling adventure. Maybe someday I'll do more, but for now, I am excited to settle into the lifestyle that I left behind, but perhaps with a bit more casual and longer-distance cycling mixed in.
Thank you so much for your love and support! I don't have any regrets and I'm pretty psyched by what I've done. My last day riding (Wednesday) was pretty amazing, maybe my favorite day! The weather was unseasonably cool, the hills were manageable, and I just enjoyed my time. I am grateful I didn't have to end my ride under duress, but instead after a great day.
What next? I'm not sure. I don't have any big adventures planned, other than slipping into what I was previously doing and spending time with my family and friends. Right now, the big adventure is just whatever life hands me. And I can't wait to see what that is.
Updating my blog has taken a back seat to pouring over my maps, sleeping, eating and just setting up and cleaning up camp.
Day 9: cycled 44 miles and camped at Raccoon Branch, a USFS campground. I slept beside a brook (creek, stream?) and a fellow camper helped me build my fire. He also generously brought me over dinner and stopped over with coffee and a bagel in the morning.
Day 10: cycled 46 miles to camp in Meadowview behind a store. I wish I had taken a photo in the store- it was like a trip back in time. The owner was so friendly and he kindly lets cyclists camp behind the store for free.
Day 11: cycled 24 miles to Honaker, where I had two large trucks pass, going in opposite directions without giving me the space I needed. I didn't fall but I felt so shaken up. I made my way to the library and my tears turned into sobs. I couldn't get back on my bike and yet the next place to camp was still 8-9 miles away over a mountain. A police officer came by to see if he could help in any way and he told me what I was feeling was NORMAL. It made me cry even more. I was so grateful he normalized my feelings. A generous woman drove me and my bike over the mountain to a city park where I camped and contemplated how I was going to go forward.
Day 12: I woke up early and headed to meet my cycling friend in Breaks. I NEEDED to bicycle to Kentucky, and today was the day!! We crossed the line, ate some pizza and stayed at a cycling hostel after riding 46 miles.
Day 13; rode 50 miles to an eccentric cycling hostel, ate way too much food and slept well.
Day 14: rode 50 miles in heat and humidity to Buckhorn. Walked up some hills and was grateful to see my friend at the campsite.
It's been such an incredible 8 days of cycling. Not easy, not without its challenges, but really wonderful anyway.
Day 5: rode up major climbs and on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Camped with fellow cyclist Katie at a vacant campground/cabin site. Cycled ~28 miles?
Day 6: rode to the highest peak on the parkway and descended a ridiculously steep and curvy road. I had to stop to let my rims cool and catch my breath. Slept under a canoe shop's overhang to stay out of the rain. Cycled ~64 miles
Day 7: cycled up and down, all the way to a hiker (Appalachian Trail)/biker hostel where I went to a family-style all-you-can-eat restaurant. We all stank and we all ate a bunch. Cycled ~38 miles.
Day 8: cycled in sun and shade and intermittent showers. Ate a blizzard for dinner and showered for the first time since day 4. Stayed at a motel, where I watched Funny Farm and Doc Hollywood. Washed my clothes in the sink and dried them on the a/c unit. Cycled ~64 miles.
It's not so easy to write on my phone, excuse the typos.
I'm in Virginia!!
Day 1: beautiful day, good energy. Left the coast and rolled inland. Rode about 40 miles on a bike path, 62 total.
Day 2: rode 75 miles, weather was sunny and clear. Felt really tired but pushed on to make it to my camping site.
Day 3: rode ~56 miles to Charlottesville, super cute and mega traffic. Rained all day, spent the night with Warm Showers hosts. 2nd half of day was emotionally stressful.
Day 4: rode ~15 miles and invited to stay with a couple. The misses made me the best grilled cheese and red clam chowder. Sleeping in their spare room and readying myself for the mountains tomorrow. Big emotions in the first half of day but it got 100% better later on.
I will climb on my bike and begin pedaling tomorrow morning! Today, a gracious volunteer from Grace Episcopal Church picked me up from the airport, brought me to the bike shop to retrieve my bike, then took me to Walmart so I could buy campstove fuel and some fresh fruits and vegetables. John went above and beyond and made me feel welcomed.
I've also met a family that is heading west, too! They have a nonprofit organization and keep a website at www.goseeknature.com. It's funny how yesterday I felt all alone and today I feel such good company!!
Taking my son to preschool this morning, he burst into tears because we weren't walking. I'm not even sure he wanted to walk as much as he didn't want to sit in his carseat. So the entire 2-minute drive we listened to him scream and cry. It was really so sad and also the tiniest bit frustrating because there's no calming a screaming three-year old during such a short window between here and there. I carried him into school, and the screaming didn't cease; I didn't know whether to stay or go, but his teacher took him into her arms and started the "say 'bye-bye' to Mommy" routine so off I went.
As I walked away, I realized, I can't...take my children's sorrow or anger or frustration away. I can certainly be there to support them, to listen, to hold and soothe, but I cannot take it away. This is their journey, their exploration of their feelings, their experiences. Just as their joys and smiles are theirs, their harder feelings are also for them to sort through.
In two days I'll be off on my bicycle adventure. I'll experience my own joys and sorrows, and I know my children will experience theirs, as well. Whether they are three years old or thirty, I know I will always rejoice with their happy tales and feel deeply when they come to me with feelings of loss. My absence this summer is only in the physical sense, and I can't wait to see how our heartstrings grow.
I thought I had packed up my things in my duffle bag, and I was pleased with my progress. Then I realized I needed to pack up my handlebar bag, bike tools and helmet. That all takes space! So, out came a pannier and in went items that will be carried on, making space for my checked duffle bag to be repacked.
What else am I bringing?
I'm excited to have some items that will aid in comfort and convenience.
Well, if I want to see my bike again, I'll need to get myself to Virginia to retrieve it.
The days are passing, and I have so many things I want to do. Before my family travels, I make a mad dash around the house, tidying and cleaning and clearing the slate so when we return, our space welcomes us home. This time, however, I am the only one traveling, so it's not like my efforts will be long-lasting, because, let's face it, kids make messes and animals shed.
The thing about my preparations is that I'm constantly revisiting my anticipations and curiosities regarding my trip. I'm wondering what the weather will be, particularly those first few days where I'm figuring out my stride. I'm thinking about how I'll respond to bicycle issues or other logistics of bike traveling. It's all so up in the air. How many times do we feel so certain of the process or outcome, when in reality, nothing is certain.
Knowing that nothing about my bicycle trip is guaranteed, I can only guarantee that I will tap into the things that make me feel whole. I will bring my favorite blend of essential oils, a few favorite photos, and my journal. I will meditate, feel the sun and wind on my face, and let the rain wash over me. I will sit in my tent with my cup of coffee, reflecting on my journey thus far. I will connect with my family and friends, and I will turn inward to connect with the woman I have become.
In ten days, I will wake up in another state, readying myself for my first full day of riding. That day will bring me closer to the Pacific Ocean, closer to the mountains, closer to reuniting with my loved ones.
<sigh> : )