After almost two months, I decided to write an epilogue for my bike tour blog. I thought waiting awhile would provide me with better perspective. Following are some of things I consider most when thinking about the tour.
It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It was both very physically and emotionally challenging, but also incredibly rewarding. Not just completing the whole tour, but every day. Sometimes it feels like a dream, but I must have done it as I have pictures and witnesses.
We live in a big beautiful country and there is no better way to see it than on a bicycle. I remember not only the scenery, but also the smells. Various parts of the country not only looked different, but also smelled different. Though I enjoyed all areas, my favorite was NE Oregon. I have spent a lot of time in Oregon, but not NE Oregon and I did not know how beautiful this area would be.
We had a great group of individuals on the tour along with the staff. Very bright, thoughtful, and funny individuals. This led to great conversation, very refreshing in today’s polarized society where demonizing and name calling those with whom we disagree is often common fare. The age ranged from 22 to 74 and about three-fourths had some serious medical problem in their lives including 6 cancer survivors. What life gives you is fate, what you give life is destiny.
I love history, all history, from ancient Greece to the Roman empire, to medieval times to America’s frontier from the early 1600s to the late 1800s. Riding through places that I had often read about was very interesting and provided great perspective.
By profession and nature I am a planner, always thinking about the future and the past which provides perspective for today and tomorrow. On the tour, I was in the moment the most I have ever been, today and tomorrow was all I thought about. Though I am pretty good at avoiding most the noise in our daily lives from cable tv, the internet, radio and print media, being able to avoid it totally for 50 days was very refreshing. (I never listen to what is commonly called talk radio or tv. I generally listen to shows which include the interview of an independent academic or journalist with credentials and expertise in a specific area along with professionals with expertise in an area. I may not agree, but at least I can learn something.)
I had a lot of time to think on my bike and thought of lots of different things, but the three most often were friends and family, spiritual matters and politics. Family and friends are core to our lives and what makes life meaningful. I learned to appreciate them more. Spiritual moments can take place in lots of different places, but for me riding on my bike in a beautiful area can lead to amazing moments of complete serenity. In my estimation, the polarization of our country has gone beyond normal to toxic. I am and have always been an independent moderate. I often thought if I had millions of dollars and would get more than 10 votes, I would run as an independent for senate in ND. No matter who runs from each party, there is no doubt in my mind I would be better than whoever is elected.
I turned 60 a few days before the tour started. For the first time ever a birthday bothered me. I was not sure if it was because I know a lot of people who are 60 and some are very old, others would look at me differently, I would look at myself differently. On the tour, I was the youngest of 12 riders who were 60 or older. I now no longer care. Chronological age is not important. What is important is how we live our lives along with how we take care of ourselves with diet and exercise.
Would I do this again? Maybe. I have now biked around or through 18 different states and day rides in another 3 for a total of 21. I have no goal to ride through all 50 states, but I do think I want to see more states by bike. I can continue to do single state tours, but there is a ride across the southern tier of the US from San Diego to St. Augustine, FL, that looks pretty cool in two years. Stay tuned, more to come.