Hey there, Dear Readers,
No. Don’t speak. I know how long it has been. I know I made promises that I didn’t keep and I know I broke your collective hearts. I hope that you can find it withing yourselves to forgive me. I won’t say that I’ll never do it again since I probably will, but maybe we can just get through this post and then you’ll forget about how I mistreated you? What do you say?
I take it that you say “Hell yes, Nick. How could I possibly stay mad at those calves?” Well said, Dear Reader; a question I ask myself every day. Then I realize I’m not mad, and that all is good in the world. Speaking of the world, this is whats going on in mine:
1). I am redirecting this blog. As the launch date approaches (June 15th), I will have more and more to talk about that is trip-related. Previously I was just writing inane, sardonic posts that didn’t relate to anything. The sarcasm will continue, the inanity (I am PRETTY happy that’s a word) should taper off.
2). I have my route planned, more or less. It is an amalgamation of several group routes and some suggestions made by some friends (Thanks, Conor). Below I highlighted all the states I plan on going through. Hopefully by next week I will post a city list so all my Dear Readers will have a better idea of exactly where I will be. Of course all this is tentative and, subsequently, subject to change. You all will be the first to hear if it does. Also, if you know ANYONE who would put me up for a night, please give me a heads up. I plan on doing a lot of camping and sleeping in churches, but I would prefer to avoid that as much as possible. Hell, these people don’t even have to welcome me. Just a lawn to sleep on would be boss.
3). Rocinante and I have been doing a lot of riding lately. Bicycling, Dear Readers, is fucking incredible. I stumbled upon that conclusion yesterday while cruising at 20mph on a path, surrounded by trees and thinking about how I still had 30 miles to go before I got anywhere. It’s rides like that one that make me think I might actually survive this trip. Then I remember reality and the threats that await me.
Anyway, Dear Readers, time for a serious turn. I wrote a short essay to explaining my reasoning for taking this trip. It is abridged and doesn’t touch on everything, but I wanted to keep it short so that the person reading it–a potential sponsor–didn’t lose interest. I feel it’s about time you all got an explanation, too. I was gonna rework it so it was kinda funny, but I have to go to work soon. So, here you go. I hope you hate laughing.
‘…I preferred reading the American landscape. Every bump, rise and stretch in it mystified my longing.’
I have heard countless descriptions of America’s immeasurable beauty and of Nature resplendent and untouched by humanity. Invariably, these descriptions were accompanied with words like “awesome,” “majestic” or “sublime.” Words which, by virtue of their definitions, failed to convey that which they described. To me, experiencing the world is an intimate event—one which calls upon all our senses. The human imagination, albeit impressive in its scope and ability, cannot possibly replicate the unyielding vastness of the Rocky Mountains or the incomprehensible power of Niagra Falls. Stories and descriptions are always insufficient when discussing the jewels of this nation. Rather we must visit these places ourselves and, through total sensual immersion, truly appreciate America, one piece at a time.
Several months ago I decided that I would experience this nation. Initially it was an undeveloped and sophomoric idea; the result of too much free time and wanderlust. I knew that I could never afford to drive across America, and further I did not trust my aging Honda to make the trip. Unconfident and uninspired, my initiative dwindled. Around this time, my father gave me some literature by John Francis. This man immediately rekindled my interest and, further, offered justification and direction. Emotionally ravaged by the 1971 oil spill in the San Francisco Bay and his own implicit contributions as a driver, John Francis decided to change his lifestyle. He renounced motorized vehicles and, once he tired of explaining this choice, he abjured speaking as well. 22 years of walking and 17 years of silence took Francis across both the North and South American continents—a pilgrimage to wisdom made by a walking monument to the environmental sins of mankind. Francis’ story is remarkable, and it made me reevaluate my own options. I, too, decided to spurn motorized vehicles and to determine a way to celebrate this country’s natural beauty.
As a child growing up in the suburbs, it was up to me to make my own fun. I did so on a bicycle, exploring without end. As the winding ribbons of road and trail passed beneath my wheels, I learned to feel the bike as an extension of myself rather than a separate machine. Every noise and nuance became familiar to me and I began to learn how to keep it maintained. I always got back late on those warm summer evenings, hair wind-tossed, face sunburned and hands covered in blisters from the long day in the saddle. As my parents berated me, I would reflect on the perfectness of the day while the feelings of liberty and adventuring in my chest slowed to an ebb. Tomorrow, I always knew, those sensations would be reignited. Recently, while reflecting on those halcyon days and missing the sensations that came with them, I realized I would traverse America by bike.
The choice to ride a bicycle rather than drive a car is multifaceted. Initially I was excited to revisit the reckless adventuring so prominent in my youth. This, coupled with my infatuation with bicycles made cycling the obvious choice. Upon deeper reflection, I realized a car is both a detriment and barrier to seeing this country. I am loath to dilute my experience by viewing America through a metal bubble and, besides, a bicycle pays better tribute to John Francis’ own achievements. Finally, riding is a testament to my own resolve. Outside of my own family and friends, most of whom are adventure-seeking and in constant pursuit of their own self-improvement, many people have decried this trip. They are confident I will fail. I plan on proving these people wrong, showing that this is not impossible or irresponsible. Showing that there is value in what I am doing beyond espousing Nature and entertaining a wanderlust. The trip is an achievement itself.
I have gone through the steps of our modernized education system and, although I did well in my pursuits, I am the same product as many of my peers: a competent, educated college graduate who achieved his limited measures of success through the exact same avenues as everyone else. I feel America’s present afflictions are due in part to the lack of creative challenges presented to our youth. There needs to be a more substantive way to differentiate between people—a way to measure not their skills or knowledge, but their commitment, their integrity and their character. Presently, it is the burden of the individual to convey his own candor. This has been my dilemma for several years but as research and no small amount of help from friends assuaged my inhibitions, I realized that touring across the country completely unsupported could fulfill this role. The trip will be a testament to my tenacity as it shows how I was able to take an idea few people encouraged and turn it into an actuality. It will show how I faced adversity for the sake of personal growth and learning. Like when I was a kid, it is my job to find adventure and make it valuable to myself and others.
That’s all for this week, Dear Readers. I’ll be writing again soon.