Decisions: How it all began

So yesterday was the day.  The day I decided I am going to ride the TransAmerica Trail.  There is so much involved in planning and preparing that my head is spinning just thinking about it, but the excitement is pure.  I’m going to ride my bike over 4200 miles across the United States.

The story doesn’t begin yesterday.  Of course to really tell the story correctly, would mean going back and recounting events from my childhood that brought me to this place.  That being said, I don’t have enough time, ink or paper to bore you with that.  Let’s just start on my 39th birthday, June 14th of this year.  The day I decided to quit my job at Iron Mountain Trap Rock.  Five years of unhappiness at work culminated in a ten minute conversation with my boss where I let him know I was done.  That day I made another decision.  I would no longer sit back and wait for life to come to me.  It was time to MAKE things happen.  So I quit the job.  No more 80 hour work weeks.  No more working weekends and holidays.  No more swing shift.  No more crap from a job I couldn’t stand.  Time to enjoy life.  Spend time with my wife and kids.  Ride my bike.  Go hiking in the Rockies of Colorado.  Sleep in.  Stay up late.  Some days just be lazy.  And that’s what I’ve done for the last month and I’m not ashamed to say I have enjoyed it!

Over the last month, I have seen cyclists come through my home town of Farmington, MO riding their bikes loaded down with gear.  They are on the TransAmerica Trail.  Every chance I get, I stop and talk to them and I’ve heard them speak of great adventures.  I’m envious!  I think to myself, “I would love to do that!”  So the little wheels in my brain started spinning.  Could I actually pull it off?  Without a job, I have the time.  I’m pretty sure I can do it financially.  I’ve discussed it with Jeneen, my wife, and she’s cool with it. Then I start trying to talk myself out of it.  It’s a big expense.  A lot of time.  It’s risky.  I’m a little scared.  Who am I kidding?!  I’m a lot scared!  4200 miles by myself on a bike?!  That’s nuts!  But wouldn’t it be so cool?

So day after day I go back and forth.  I just didn’t know.  Maybe I’ll go.  A big maybe.  Then yesterday it happened.

Yesterday I went for my last training ride in preparation for RAIN.  That’s the Ride Across Indiana.  160 miles in one day from Terre Haute to Richmond.  It’s coming up this Saturday.  So my riding buddies John and Bruce, and myself went out for an easy spin on 28 miles.  When we finished, we all peeled off and headed for our homes.  Like I said, the Trans-Am runs right through town.  Actually, it runs right up Maple Street, less than a block from my house.  As I was coming up Maple, I see a touring cyclist up ahead.  Headed west into the great unknown.  Time to catch them and hear their story!

So I caught up right at my street.  Her name was Laura Leeson.  20 years old.  Headed west.  She had left Yorktown, VA three weeks before.  Amazingly, she said that prior to her trip, she had less than a week of experience on the bike!I asked if she would mind if I rode with her awhile and chat.  She obliged and as we talked, I kept thinking how brave I thought she was.  Just 20 years old and by herself.  Crossing the country on a bike.  Amazing.

I asked her lots of questions, because that’s what I do!  Whether she had a blog or not.  Typical stuff.  The one thing I was really curious to know was where she was staying along the way.  She said all camping.  Mostly RV parks and state campgrounds.  That brought me to the most important question for me.

You see, if I was going to do the Trans-Am, I would camp.  It just doesn’t make sense to me to have the expense of a hotel every night.  That and it seems to be a little bit of a cop out.  The Trail is about adventure, not continental breakfasts.  And I’m fine with roughing it.  No big deal to me.  But my biggest fear is the camping out west and dealing with bears.  I don’t know why.  I know people do it all the time without issue, but it’s a sticking point for me.  I guess it is just something unknown to me, growing up in the mid west.  So I asked her what would she do?

Her response was short, sweet and to the point.  “I’ll just get two cans of bear spray.  I’ll be OK.”  I said, “Well, alright!”  Inside I was thinking YEAH right!

Later yesterday afternoon I was riding in the car with my oldest son and in an attempt to get him interested in cycling in some way, I told him the story of meeting Laura.  Of course I mentioned that she is doing this with very little cycling experience.  His response was an upbeat “cool”!  Score one for dad!  I just might convert him yet!

That’s when it happened.  I said, “When I take my tour…”  I actually said it.  It wasn’t the typical if, it was WHEN.  I stopped mid sentence and told him, “That’s it.  I’ve made my decision.  I’m going.”

I realized that my fears and concerns were just that.  Fears and concerns.  Should I let them control or dictate what I’m going to do?  Not if I intend on chasing life.  Fears are healthy, but not something to stifle ambition.  No, I’m going to LIVE life.  Enjoy it for everything it’s worth, just like Laura.  Is there risk?  Sure.  But nothing ventured is nothing gained.  I don’t know my departure date yet.  I’m not sure of particulars.  But I am sure of one thing.  I’m going on a bicycle tour of the TransAmerica Trail and I’m going this fall.  Wow.