I recently read Half the World Away by Ian Lacey. This book was an excellent read of a mostly solo bicycle tour from the northernmost to southernmost points of the Americas. Ian shared more than the typical bicycle tourist does of where I cycled today and how many miles I cycled.
He told the following story well into his tour. Cycling the spine of the Americas involves passing through desolate locales with few people, let alone cyclists. He approached a fully loaded cyclist in Central America and cycled a time with him. This 20-year bicycling touring veteran spent his recent years touring long distance for 6 months and working the other 6 months.
In their conversations, Ian shared his determination to cycle every mile of his tour. In Mexico, he was forced to return to San Diego by truck for a critical bicycle repair and return by bus to the spot hundreds of miles south of Tijuana where his bicycle breakdown occurred. This allowed him to continue with no miles missed.
The veteran shared some touring wisdom. He encountered cyclists over the years that approached long-distance touring as a challenge where they are driven to cycle “every fucking inch”. He named this the Every Fucking Inch (EFI) Club. With age and experience, he learned that this was not the way to tour by bike. To him, touring is not being miserable but enjoying as much time on the bike as possible. If there is an option to take alternative transportation to eliminate misery, he takes it.
As the miles and days wore on and determined to cycle every fucking inch, Ian found himself in that familiar situation once again. The touring veteran’s words helped him understand the meaning of his challenge. He chose to leave the EFI Club and get off the bike and on a bus. I believe that only occurred twice for limited distances. He overcame amazing challenges over his remaining days and made the most of his time on his bike.
My mind has been driven to cycle every fucking inch of my tours. I left my EFI Club membership card in the rolling hills of central North Carolina on my mountains to coast tour. I told my touring partner Greg, “This is just not fun anymore. I am done cycling today.” I sat out the next two days and adopted the same outlook the veteran tourist shared with Ian. That is why this passage in Ian’s book resonates with me.
I returned to cycle the final days to the North Carolina coast overcoming many challenges in a better mental state. Leaving the EFI Club is about balancing challenge with happiness. I enjoy challenges and know that I grow by overcoming challenges. Cycling every fucking inch does not contribute to happiness.
I have been thinking that the EFI Club is more about life than just for bicycle touring. Retirement has a way of making a person evaluate what they do. Our time on earth is limited. I want to spend every fucking minute being happy and living life to the fullest. Welcome to the Every Fucking Minute (EFM) Club.
How does the EFM Club fit into my life? I no longer look at things being all or nothing. I achieve what I can. I continue to accept challenges. I know that I may or may not make overcome all challenges. I embrace the mindset that it’s about trying harder. Whether I fail or succeed, it is something learned to move forward. I concentrate on what makes me happy.
Welcome to the EFM Club!
LOL! Of course I remember that conversation. I was ready to ride on. Like you, I enjoy taking on challenges and doing my best to overcome them. Usually! ☺
But, I said, “WTF” and decided to SAG out with you.
But Lordie knows I’ve NEVER been in the EFI club! Heck, my first tour ever, I gladly accepted a ride in a pickup for about 20 miles in southern Ohio. Then, rented a truck in Parkersburg and drove 2 or 3 hundred miles to Galax to avoid water. As I think about it, I’ve never done a solo tour that i didn’t get at LEAST one lift in a motorized vehicle. Heck, on this year’s tour, I rode in an Oklahoma State Patrol SUV, a pickup truck, a friend’s SUV, and even rented a U-Haul for one day.
All that said, that day in October when you said, “This is just not fun anymore. I am done cycling today.” it got me to to thinking differently. I’ve always viewed my tours as challenges to overcome (albeit, not without a little help from my motorized friends). But now, I’m planning tours with enjoyment as the primary goal.
Like you, I will probably always take on challenges – doing difficult things has always filled my cup of confidence and allowed me to believe in myself. But I’m satisfied that I’ve “accomplished” enough on my bike. From now on, although I will still face some challenges, cycling is about “having fun!” Thanks!
Well said, Greg! I worked hard since my heart attack to be healthier and become a person who takes on challenges. I am glad I did. I never dreamed of doing things on a bike that I have done over the past 14 years. With retirement, I have come to understand that challenges are important to keep me active and moving forward. However, I now realize that challenges may bring happiness but that happiness is more than challenges. I am glad that you and I have enjoyed many super experiences on the bike, so many challenges and happy times.