I arrived home late Monday night after completing my journey in Wilmington, North Carolina on Sunday, October 10th. That last weekend I rode from my brother and sister-in-law’s in Hope Mills down to the coast without my trailer and was grateful the entire way. Grateful because in America we are afforded the opportunity to live our dreams. Grateful because I’m blessed with a lot of great friends and family. Grateful that I made it safely across without injury.
My daughter Jennifer was waiting at the airport on Monday night and smiling broadly. We embraced for a long moment and she stated flatly – “I knew you’d do it, I told everyone you’d do it.” When I last saw Jen in Astoria I wasn’t as sure as her. I had no idea when I clipped in and started peddling in the streets of Astoria toward parts unknown that day what lay ahead. I knew it would be challenging, but had no clue about the great adventure in front of me. It surpassed my expectations by a country mile. And made every other adventure I’ve been on in life pale in comparison. Except for being a parent. Now that’s excitement.
Final Tale Of The Tape:
Total miles peddled: 4,022.42. Half on the TransAm Trail and the other half finding my own way.
Total revolutions of my 26” wheel: 3,120,178
Total riding days: 89
Total rest days: 57 (okay, I like to sightsee)
Average miles per riding day: 45.20
Weight loss: Started at 170lbs plus and finished at 146lbs.
Total climbing: 120,000+ thousand feet, 24 miles of climbing.
Flat tires: 3 flats – one front tire, one rear tire and one on my trailer. Better living through Kevlar….and good quality rim tape.
Major mechanical issues: None, zero, nada. I love my Surley Long Haul Trucker.
Brakes: Two sets, one in Missoula, Montana and the other in Pueblo, Colorado. After that got a little braver on the descents.
Broken spokes: None
Tires: One set. My Vittoria’s made it all the way, worn out but they made it.
Fastest descent: 51.4 mile per hour on a two mile stretch of 7% grade in the Smoky Mountains.
Close calls: A couple dozen. Six really close and two very, very close on the same day in Kentucky.
Dog attacks: 100+
This week I started re-assembling my life. Got my car out of storage and the battery was so dead it took an hour and a half to get it jump started. Promptly went to Wal-Mart and purchased a new one. Moved back to the same complex I was living at before I left and began to settle in. Thursday night I slept in my own bed on my own sheets for the first time in months. It felt great to be sleeping in sheets that are over fifty thread count or a sleeping bag. Thursday evening I was greeted warmly by my colleagues at a Share board meeting and had a chance to talk a little about the journey. Yesterday I helped my Jennifer move to a new place.
Not a moment goes by when I am not reflecting back over these last months. The individual moments that made it an adventure. Whether it was standing fifty feet away from a grizzly bear in Yellowstone or talking to a new friend in some roadside café this last four months will forever be with me. I wasn’t a few months ago but I am now a bicyclist.
There are a few people I want to thank. First, my dad. He’s always been an inspiration to me as a risk taker. Always encouraging and never, not once in my life did he say – “you can’t do that.” He wasn’t always the biggest or fastest athlete but taught me that that doesn’t matter. It’s a man’s heart that propels him to greater and greater heights. If there’s one person that I have to single out as the major influence on my life as an athlete and a man it’s my dad. Second, my brother Mark. He may be my little brother but he’s larger than life to me. As a retired Green Beret who served in war I know him to be a soldier’s soldier and a man’s man. He is one my hero’s and someone who I deeply respect. I look at him in awe for putting his life on the line and doing the things he has. My best friend and business partner Scott who lives in Tampa. He has always been an encouragement to me. We’re launching a new business venture in the health and wellness industry and I’m looking forward to making it a success with him. My children Jennifer and Stephen. I thought about them nearly every moment of the last few months. Jennifer was so matter of fact when she told me I’d make it. Perhaps she knows me better than I know myself because I did have my doubts. When I told her one of my ideas the other night while she was doing laundry at my place, something even my audacious, she simply said – “sure you can.” To my many friends who emailed me with words of encouragement. Thank you and thank you again.
What’s next? I’ll be focusing on business for awhile and getting that launched. And looking at how to can contribute more to Share and the challenges we face here in Vancouver with the homeless and hungry. Already however, I am beginning to dream about the next great adventure. I am after all my father’s son and the apple doesn’t fall from the tree. Someone asked the other night at the board meeting what the one takeaway is from the journey. I’d have to say that what I’ve discovered is that each of us is endowed with the capacity to fulfill our dreams whatever they are. That each of us has a reservoir of strength that can be tapped into whenever we need it and for whatever reason. In order to be successful, whether personally or professionally, we all must look at life through the prism of possibilities and not the lens of limitations. I’ve grown closer to God and look at the world, at life in a different way now.
For those of you who have seen the movie “Cast Away” with Tom Hanks the final scene has the protagonist, Chuck Noland out in the middle of nowhere at the confluence of four rural roads. Now, Chuck has endured a lot in the previous five years after being shipwrecked on that remote Pacific island. After being advised by a woman whose FedEx package he had just delivered that this road leads here and that road leads there he looks down each one and the last thing we see is Chuck with a big smile. I have often wondered what he was thinking at that precise moment. Until now. I know exactly what Chuck Noland was thinking because I’ve stood at that same junction. In the end it doesn’t really matter that life sometimes (inevitably) leads us all down unexpected roads. We can endure most anything that life throws at us and in the end we must, each in our own way, find those qualities in ourselves that enable us to achieve our goals. I invite you all to take the potential energy of your dreams and convert them into the kinetic energy of action. Look at your life through the prism of possibilities and not the lens of limitations. You’ll be amazed at what will happen when you do that. I have learned the truth in one of Goethe’s couplets: “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” Begin it now.