As most of you know who follow this blog, I was on quite a journey last week. My bariatric cycling buddy Chuck and I cycled from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. across the Alleghenies for eight days and about 300 miles. It was quite an adventure.
This trip was an unknown for me; unknown in many facets. I was tackling a distance far greater than any I have cycled. I was uncertain of my endurance for eight days of cycling. I questioned my camping and self-sufficiency skills. I had to overcome these obstacles and others to get on my bike and head east.
I had pictured this trip as a transformational event for me. I was really uncertain of what transformations I was expecting. I knew that overcoming obstacles and achieving a higher level of self confidence would make me a stronger, more self-confident person. I was pretty open to let the experience guide me to a new place in my life.
This past week was truly the transformational event that I expected. I believe the biggest change I experienced along the route was an increasing sense of self confidence. Looking back, it’s funny how fast those miles passed and how the experiences of the week multiplied. I am confident that I can tackle more challenges like this in the future. Actually, I now know that I want to make one of these bicycle adventures an annual event.
The most amazing lessons I learned last week were from others along the trails. Fellow cyclists who were on trips of 100s and even 1000s of miles were very motivating. Friendly waitresses in diners, bike shop owners, B&B innkeepers and friendly people riding and walking the trails made for a memorable time. Everyone had a story that was uniquely theirs. It was nice to get away from my hectic work life to savor these stories. I am sure some will appear in future blog posts.
I learned many valuable lessons by cycling with a friend. Chuck and I were friends from the same bariatric support group who cycle together weekly. Over the week, I got to know his strengths and weaknesses. I am sure he can say the same about me. I learned that the success of our journey depended on us relying on each other. Most of the teams of bicycle tourists we met were in their 20s and 30s. We were definitely the old guys on the trail. We made a pretty damn good team and grew from our experiences.
When you have completed 95 percent of your journey, you are only halfway there. — Japanese Proverb
I think the above Japanese proverb says it all. I learned that although this journey appears to be done it really is only the beginning. I can’t recall another experience in my life that has had a bigger impact on my life than this bicycle ride. Maybe it’s because it’s still fresh in my mind. I believe that it goes beyond the freshness of the events. It is all about my exposure to new and unknown things that expanded my horizon.
Since my surgery, I continually try to grow myself in any way I can. The experiences of being self sufficient for a week with all of my belongings in 4 saddle bags and tied onto a bike is far from the everyday reality of my life. It has definitely given me a fresh look at what is important in life. Life is more about what you make of it and not what you expect from it.
There is no doubt that although this journey is over I am only halfway to my destination. It did a terrific job of kicking me in the butt and making me uncomfortable to stay where I am. As my third surgiversary approaches, I need that extra push to keep working on being a healthier, happier person. Stay tuned for my future adventures.