Ingram to Lady Bird Johnson Recreation Area (Fredericksburg)
I suppose this is as good a time as any to talk about why I’m doing this. The short answer is I’m not entirely sure. That is to say, there is no single reason. It is incredible what can happen when you get an idea in your head. Let it grow for awhile and all of a sudden you find yourself with the motivation to do something epic. Never mind that it may take a lifetime. In my case, that was how it happened. When I was 22 years old, I wasn’t ready to become a productive member of the workforce (arguably that has never happened, but that is certainly another story) so I got on a bicycle instead. I rode from Seattle to San Francisco. That was as far as I could get before I ran out of money. That sealed the deal for me. I decided that some day I would cycle the entire West Coast. Over the years, that grew into, “why not cycle across the entire United States?”
So here I am, cycling across the entire United States, at least I have made it to the half-way point. I realize there are no guarantees in life, that includes having even started this trip, and of course finishing this trip. I’m glad I’m here, I’m having a blast, it is the experience of a lifetime, second only to helping raise three beautiful and talented daughters. Will I do this again? Probably not. Certainly not the same route. Not because this route is not beautiful, but because there are so many beautiful places to see in this country. There is nothing quite like seeing the country from the seat of a bicycle.
I hinted that there may be more than one reason why I’m doing this, and indeed there is. It is certainly an accomplishment to attempt a trip this epic in nature. I believe “bragging rights” is a good way to describe that. Certainly it is an accomplishment to be proud of. The older you are I think the more right you have to be proud, It is also a test of one’s physical and mental toughness. Honestly though, I think it is a lot more about mental toughness than it is about physical toughness. The bicycle is the most efficient form of human powered transportation ever invented, and likely ever to be invented. (There will be periodic improvements, like Roloff Hubs, but nothing dramatically different in nature than the basic idea of a bicycle.) It doesn’t really matter what shape you are in, if you are not mentally determined, you likely won’t be able to complete a trip of this nature. But why is a trip like this important? Honestly, I don’t know.
Other reasons? Why yes indeed there are other reasons. The thrill of the ride. Cruising down a mountain pass at breakneck speed after spending 2 hours straining every muscle from your shoulders to your ankles to get to the top. Drifting at 16 miles per hour across an open flat expanse of wilderness. Your pedals spinning almost effortlessly. Of course having a nice bike that allows for that helps a lot, but any bike really will do. The freedom of air in your face, the wind at your back, your sense of smell taking in the essence of your surroundings. It is an experience that I wish everyone could enjoy, even if it is for just a short distance. Anyone that has ridden a bicycle knows what I’m talking about. In this particular case, it is just a matter of doing it day-in and day-out, until you get enough, but once you start it’s not possible to get enough. That is what is so contagious about the experience. I knew it when I was 22, I rediscovered it at 65. It is something I will take with me and will be a part of me for the rest of my life.
That’s probably enough explanation. There are other reasons, but the last one worth mentioning right now is the fact that riding a bicycle is a magical experience. Pure joy. I want to be able to go for a bike ride when I am 90 years old.
A last word about bikes (for now). Bill Davidson knows how to build a bicycle. This bike is a thoroughbred race horse. It wants to go. It hauls ass on the flats and it goes faster down hill than I care to think about. It handles like a sports car, even when it is loaded. Without a load it is a dream machine. All of this, and beautiful too.
A beautiful 20 mile stretch of back roads.