I just looked up the definition of adventure and I like it.
1 : an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks
2 : an exciting or remarkable experience
Yup. Sign me up!
My most imminent adventure is one that I am very pleased to announce: a 4-day bicycle tour from San Francisco to Santa Cruz then Monterey/Carmel and back!
It’ll be about 260 miles round-trip:
Roughly 77 miles on days 1 and 4.
Definitely my longest ride yet. I’ve never actually, officially even ridden 50 miles in a day, though I’ve been so close that it’s good enough for me.
Additionally, I confess that I’ve likely ridden my road bike <10 times in the last year – and 0 times in the last month other than a few miles each way to CrossFit Chico.
Hence the adventure.
I’ll be riding with my buddy Shane.
It might not be pretty, but I’ll make it happen. And Shane is patient and gentle so I know that no matter how much I lag, he’ll be supportive and just keep smiling.
A bike tour is something that I’ve wanted to do for the last 5-6 years, ever since I randomly got a Terry Precision Cycling Catalog in the mail and was introduced to the concept (and promptly purchased super-stylish vestments [such as the one you see above] for my journey that I was determined to make happen).
My big goal is to ride the whole length of CA, or the whole West Coast of the US, perhaps. To do that kind of fully-loaded tour (where I’m carrying all my food and camping gear on my bike) requires a bicycle that I do not yet own.
So rather than delay my adventure any longer waiting for the right bike to enter my life or waiting until I’m in ideal shape, I’m just going to make a tour to fit my current circumstances: a mini Tour de Maria sans camping.
We’ll stay with Shane’s sister in Santa Cruz, get a hotel in Monterey, eat along the way, and proudly put on stinky clothes a few days in a row.
Shane and I had originally planned to do this tour in November over my “Celebration of Life” day commemorating the anniversary of my heart surgery. Each year I make a point of doing something that I would not be able to do were I not alive and healthy to remind myself of how much I have to be grateful for.
We decided to postpone our tour as Shane’s sweet grandmother was making her final preparations to move on.
Our adventure begins Saturday morning from my dad’s house. I intend to document our travels, though I don’t imagine I’ll be posting any updates from the road. I may post a piece of writing from my heart experience to offer some insight into what this adventure represents for me.
I decided it would be a good idea to take my bike into the shop (The Bicycle Wheel owned by a great guy, Mark Wade) just to have Mark check it out before my ride. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it, but I thought it’d be a good idea just in case.
I brought it in Tues morning and went in to pick it up at the end of the day.
“I have been working on YOUR bike ALL day! Yours is the ONLY bike I’ve been working on. Pretty much everything that could have needed work, needed work on this thing.”
Part of my bike’s makeover involved a new chain. Mark’s suggestion was that I give it 20 miles or so BEFORE my big ride to help the chain settle in. I thought that’d be a good idea anyway, so I (well, Russ did actually) planned a ride today in between my appointments. 20-30 miles.
IT. FELT. FANTASTIC!
Man, I was sailing, making good speed, feeling strong, having fun!
We noticed a bike path neither of us had been on and decided to take it. It was beautiful. It went behind a row of houses with an open field extending out on the other side. Riding down the path we gathered an ever-greater flock of birds that flew just ahead, trying to get away from us. Then there were these two little quail hurrying along next to the path. They were so cute as hurrying little quail are and then I was falling.
I was slowly, inevitably falling forward to my left as my handlebars bounce maniacally over to my right – my hands completely disengaged from the handlebars.
There were a few things that went wrong here.
Firstly, I was probably going too fast on a trail I’d never been on before.
Secondly, I was distracted on a trail I’d never been on before.
Thirdly, there was a brutal network of roots that were busting up the asphalt, hidden in the shade of the tree they belonged to.
Fourthly, I believe I was shifting my hand position at the critical moment of jarring impact.
Fifthly, I’m used to riding my mountain bike (which has tenderly forgiving shocks). There is a difference between how you ride a road bike and how you ride a mtn bike and riding one like the other is a recipe for Ouch. I’ve now experienced that first-hand in both directions. One of the first times I went out mtn biking, I concussed myself because of my road bike riding habits.
So the great news is that nothing is broken!
All in all, I am extremely lucky and grateful. This could have been so much worse. I could have broken something. I could have seriously injured an ankle rather than just shred off some skin like I did. I can still peddle! I’m not sure how it’s going to feel having the pressure on my wrist while I ride, but I’m willing to see how it goes. I am still alive and healthy!
And I’m grateful that I had Russ there with me to help me home, clean my wounds, and run to the store to get me ice and first-aid goodies.
My once-beautifully tuned-up bike is feeling a bit like I am. She’s battered and banged up, twisted a bit out of shape. Mark is trying to re-fix her for me before he goes out of town today for his own adventure. He’s only got a few hours, but he’s doing what he can to help me. She probably won’t be riding as sweetly as she was, but that’s okay. As long as I can ride her.
So what’s the point of all this?
As someone who believes that everything happens for a reason, I’ve asked myself why this happened. I think the answer was that this happened so that I would ride with much more caution and attention, remembering the differences between road riding and mtn biking before I embark on my bike adventure.
There is inherent risk involved in the pursuit and realization of any goal or dream. Denying that setbacks and pain are a part of any path of a worthy pursuit is naive and can lead to giving up altogether. The reality doesn’t need to match the ideal picture in our minds. It’s important to recognize that we are not immune to setbacks and that we have the ability to carry on in spite of them, and often with greater wisdom because of them.
We’ll see how my big bicycle adventure unfolds!