Friday, March 27, 2009

Final Report

First and foremost, it is time to express my profound gratitude to my most perfect wife, Subagh Kaur. She has been so tolerant of my need for solo travel and so supportive of my efforts. She did all the posting here, mailed my resupply package, drove across the country by herself to meet me, and even did without my delightful company for five whole weeks. Thank you. I love you.

And thank you also to those who have sent along your encouraging words. Knowing you were there was a real boost.

Some facts: The trip took 35 days, two hours. The route covered about 3270 miles. Along the way I had about ten flats, six of them in two days of biking on Interstate 10. I also wore out two tires. I used extra thick tubes to good advantage. I also had to replace the chain which was getting pretty stretched out. There were no other breakdowns.

The route, except for a bit I added in the beginning, was laid out by Adventure Cycling Association. It was a zig zag affair following back roads most of the way. Visit their web site if you have any interest in this sort of thing; they are terrific. Going the other way (most do this route west to east) I met a dozen or so other bike tourers, all of them using the same maps.

I camped most nights but stayed in a motel about six times.

Impressions: In the Southeast, there is an astounding amount of litter, much less in the Southwest. Almost all of it is the containers from fast food joints and quick stops. I needed to "shop" in these quick stops quite often and the selection was awful: all sugar and energy drinks, pastries, etc. I managed to find enough juice, cheese, beans, trail mix, and burritos to survive but it is scary to see what people are putting down these days.

The rural towns along the way were mostly dying.

America is a big, empty place, except for where it isn't, in which case it is crowded, intense, noisy, frantic.

Personally: I probably lost a few pounds, got a bit stronger below the waist, weaker above. I have funny tan lines and baggy skin on my face. There is numbness in all the places that body and bike came together.

My meditation practice is based on mantra repetition and biking is perfect for that: rhythmic breathing, rhythmic motion, not that much else to do with the mind. I'm grateful for the opportunity to have been so engaged and to have found a deeper silence within myself.

What did I get out of this? Who knows. I had expected to do lots of contemplating of the future but that just wasn't happening. Meditating one night I asked, "How should I live my life?" and an instant answer came back: "Simply, very simply." That's about as far as that went, but it could be enough.

Subagh(o), My heartfelt congratulations on your ride--absolutely brilliant!! I look forward to an in depth recount of your adventure when we see you next. Subagh(a), Great job on the backup and technical support that allowed us to follow along. Enjoy a few days together in one place. Love, David