Waiting to start is always the hardest part of initiating any long distance trip, let alone one done by human power. So, here I find myself patiently waiting, and waiting, and waiting, for the call from my LBS telling me the replacement part has arrived and the bike is fixed. I have been ready to go for two weeks now, but one thing after another has come; each time pushing back my start date.
The latest set-back was the destruction of the bearings in my bottom bracket. I am still not sure how this happened, but in my Zen like way, when informed of the damage, I did not ask why, or how, but instead evaluated my options and moved forward. The decision, replace the bearings, which needed to be shipped in from Minnesota, and would thus push me back another week. Little did I know that the North would get hammered by snow, including Minnesota thus possibly further delaying my start and truly testing my inner peace.
I do realize that nothing is going anywhere. The road will still be there, the flats will still be flat and the hills will still be hilly. I realize this at a conscious level, but subconsciously there is that feeling of angst that wants to creep up each day and invade my spirit. If left to its own volition, it would rise up and cause me to fret all day long about the part, the repair and the delay -- things that I obviously have no control over. However, being me, and having now done this for two and half years, I realize that I can't do anything to speed up this process. It must unfold at its own pace, and so, I breathe and patiently await the phone call, the one telling me I am ready to go.
The delay has not only pushed back my start date, but also my plans for New Years. It had been my intention to make it to the lovely city of New Orleans for New Years, a city that I adore and just love to visit. With the delay, there is simply no way that I will make it to New Orleans, so I will stick to the standard ACA route and just see where I end up. A huge part of the journey for me is just travelling, with as few plans as possible.
When I did the Inside Passage, my first long distance solo trip, I had everything laid out. I mean, I knew where I was going to camp each night, when I would arrive in cities, and where packages would be mailed. For my first trip of that magnitude, I think that level of planning was appropriate. It eliminated a one set of angst and created another. You see, I find that when you make that level of plan, your daily routine becomes one of chasing the plan. You wake up thinking ok, I have to get out by such and such a time in order to get from location A to location B. You feel stress over anything that gets in the way of executing that plan, and I think to a great extent, you then miss things. I know for the Inside Passage, there were places that I really should have just lingered and explored, but I didn't because I was focused on my plan. Next time up the IP I won't make that choice.
For the Atlantic Odyssey, my 3000 mile paddle up the Atlantic Ocean, I took the exact opposite tack. I had absolutely no plans at all. I woke each day and paddled however far I wanted to paddle. When I found interesting locations, I lingered and took my time. When I needed something mailed to me, I simply looked a week ahead of time and had the items shipped. Traveling this way made the trip much more flexible, relaxing and enjoyable.
For the upcoming Bike Around America tour, 11000 miles plus, I find that I will split the difference. Since so many roads in the US are not bike friendly, I must rely to a large extent on the ACA maps. These great folks have spent a good deal of time mapping out routes across and around the country that are as bike friendly as is possible. So I will mainly stick to these routes, thus committing to some form of a plan. However, in honour of the 'no plan' way of travel, I won't worry about mileage or destinations. I won't sweat not knowing where I will stay each night, just having complete faith that Spirit will help me out, guiding me along, and showing me the way.
And so, here I sit, waiting for the call, completely packed and ready to go. I look forward to the road, it is a calming, dynamic, and exciting place. Seeing the world by bike will be such a completely different experience than viewing it for sea level in an 18 foot kayak. Needless to say I am stoked and look forward to sharing not only the imagery of the trip, but the personal dynamics of long distance travel.