*NEWER POSTS ARE BELOW.* Yes. I did it. I finally finished the equivalent of bicycling one lap of Planet Earth at the equator. Pretty awesome, if you ask me. Or even if you didn’t ask. Let me tell you about it. You’re already here, right? May as well keep reading. It’s a lot easier than biking around the world, I can assure you of that!
From my Strava fitness application ride summary:
Saurabh Das was there for my very first ride on Strava back on December 19, 2015, so it was only fitting that he join me for this conclusion to my trip which equals the distance around the Earth’s equator: 24,901.461 miles (40,075 kilometers). It was just another late night bike ride around Austin, Texas, but it was also very special. Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good, actually. That’s five pretty’s, one for each year, although t took me 4 years 10 months and 4 days (counting the rest days; the last one I had was 10/10/2019). Now for my 30′ of yoga, some hot tub time, and perhaps a raspberry dark chocolate Dove bar. More to come in my blog, ADudeAbikes.com. Thanks everyone for your support!A Dude Abikes
So now it’s over, what next? I’ll answer that with a saying generally attributed to Zen Buddhism:
Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.
It’s a huge accomplishment, but nothing has really changed. For example, after the ride and doing my nightly yoga, I discovered that I was out of Dove Bars, and I didn’t get into the hot tub until the next morning. I didn’t have any champagne on hand either. That’s kind of the way things go sometimes with biking and in life. Ups and downs. Hills and dales. You continue living life. As I wrote in my post Approaching the Summit of a Goal? Prepare for the Downhill Ride, an anti-climatic feeling is a normal experience after achieving a big goal. I’m definitely feeling that big time.
At the same time, on another level, I’m of course very happy I made it. Pride goeth before the fall, though, and a major goal in cycling is trying one’s damndest to not fall off your bicycle. A few moments of glory and celebration are in order, with me being just a little spec in the blogosphere and an insignificant molecule in the universe. Still, the magnitude of the accomplishment is hard for me to fathom, and even harder to explain.
Earth, the third rock from the sun, is a pretty big place for us wee humans. This was in some ways an extremely humbling experience. Of course I didn’t literally ride my bike around the world at the equator. Since it took almost five years, it’s hard to conceptualize. A person taking a touring bike from North American to the tip of Latin America would begin to come close to understanding the effort required. Even then, the distance around Mother Earth is much longer, so it’s not the same. (And by the way, I didn’t start riding my bike on December 19, 2015. I probably had 13,000 miles from 2005-2014 before I started keeping track. So my all-time life miles is easily 40,000, not including riding as a kid.)
It’s obvious, but what I can tell you about how I did it was easy, but not simple: one pedal stroke at a time. Put another way: I. Just. Kept. Pedaling. And really, isn’t that the point? The journey IS the destination. If I hadn’t found some meaning and enjoyment in the journey, it’s far too much work jsut to be able to say I biked x miles. So it’s the people, places, struggle, suffering, hard work, and happinesses along the way that made this effort worth while. Austin, Texas, USA where I live and did the vast bulk of the riding, is for the most part, a good place to have made this effort. Some places would be less hospitable toward people and their bicycles. Others moreso. I stayed alive (and mostly upright), with no crashes with cars, which is no small feat. That was skill plus luck there.
Really the only remaining feeling I can try to impart to you right now, aside from relief, is gratitude. There are plenty of people to thank, from family and friends to to fellow bike riders, bike shop mechanics and sales people, the bike advocacy folks, convenience store clerks, and even car drivers who did not kill me. Future posts may include highlights, like the most memorable rides, maybe more stats, best photographs, etc. Perhaps an Ask Me Anything. I suppose I should be promoting this more widely. But really it’s a personal thing and I have nothing to prove.
The lessons are perhaps already learned and the experience one that’s internal to me, and maybe they can’t be explained or understood with someone who hasn’t done something similar. Plenty of people (middle-aged fathletes like me or not) have done far more impressive feats in shorter time, bicycling or not. But this victory of biking around the world is all mine. Even though like I said, it was both a solo effort with many people lending their support. I can tell you one thing for sure, though: it was really fucking hard! But I did it, and that feeling of accomplishment is really indescribable.
Better never begin. Once begun, better finish.Dan Millman, author of The Way of the Peaceful Warrior (one of my favorite books)
The Milo of Croton story is a great parable to conlude with. The link is to a great blog post in Agile Lean Life that explains and extrapolates it to modern times, fitness goals, and so on. The short version is a young man in ancient Greece started carrying a calf every day. The animal grows, and so does he. The basic lessons are obvious. He didn’t start by trying to lift a full grown bull. He did a little bit every single day (like I just did, biking every day for a year and counting; like me, he was Mister Consistency). It was a struggle, and he suffered. People laughed at him, but he stayed true to his vision, goals. Eventually he saw major results from maintinaing disipline and won wrestling in the Olympics six times and many other competitions.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step (or pedal stroke).Lao Tzu or Confucious
Thank you for being part of my journey. What is happening with yours?
(He’s got the whole world, in his legs…)
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