Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go
(T. S. Eliot)
Beginning in late April, 2011, I will be embarking on a multi-year tandem bike tour that will hopefully see me traverse every great landmass – and in so doing, circumnavigate the globe. With so many people around me bemused as to why I would consider doing such a thing on my own, I thought it fitting to devote this first entry towards attempting to justify it…
Like so many others that have gone before me, I stand at a fork in the road. In one direction, I head towards comfort, convention, and normality. In the other direction, I face uncertainty, a physical challenge like none I have ever encountered before, and the almost unbearable pressure of knowing that I will be adding worry to the lives of those people whom I love.
So what is it that has drawn me so irresistibly away from a life of ‘comfort’? Why commit myself to a life that is so alien to the one that I have encountered thus far…?
Answering the ‘why’ is perhaps the most difficult part of a cycle tourers life. For those that have experienced the joy of saddling up a touring bike, cycling 130+ miles in a day, and then settling down in a wild camping spot, you will no doubt understand how the experience sears through all of the ‘worries’ of life – and awakens the soul to the beauty of the world around us.
It is unlike any other type of adventuring I know – just quick enough to travel sizeable distances and see amazing new horizons, yet slow and tiring enough to demand us to embrace (if only fleetingly) the cultures through which we pass. There is no respite from the elements, nor from the ever-present thought that if trouble were to arrive, there can be no quick getaway. To be successful, it requires something that many of us never have to embrace in our social cocoons – empathy and compassion for the plight of absolute strangers. In a world whose media focusses so overwhelmingly upon the divisions between peoples, having the opportunity to challenge such preconceptions is something for which I feel privileged.
But are such justifications really reason enough to cut loose from all that is familiar and safe? It is a question that has clouded my mind for months. Time and again, my swirling thoughts settle around a few overriding convictions. I personally can’t help but feel that as things currently stand, I am squandering what abilities I have. That is not to say that I think I am capable of anything extraordinary. In all honesty, I know that I have set myself a task that I likely may not achieve (I guess, why set a challenge where the outcome is assured?). But ‘what-if’ I achieve my goal, and manage to haul a tandem and trailer the length of each great landmass? If a distinctly average person can achieve such a dream against adversity, what then for those people that have far more ability than I?
For me, I no longer wish for those times when I feel most alive to merely be the addendum’s to a comfortable, predictable existence. I want every day to be filled with wonder, uncertainty, trepidation. I want to seize my moment…to test my own resolve. & I hope that in striving to reach my own goal, someone else may just strive towards theirs.
Thoughts about this journal entry?
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