Six years ago…
I set off on a cross country ride with no experience and no idea what I was getting myself into.
My mom struggled with the straps and bungees, helping me to affix my gear to the bicycle racks and doggy trailer.
We stood on the side of the road on a random street in Brunswick, New Jersey, learning to place the gear on the bike — for the FIRST TIME.
Yes, right on the day of departure I would ride out for the first time on a loaded touring bicycle!
Prior to May 8, 2013…
I never rode more than 20 miles in a day. To make matters more concerning, without my mom’s knowledge, I was beginning my trek with less than $50.00 in my pocket. She was so worried already, so I definitely wasn’t going to tell her about my financial situation.
Due to the pouring rain, I decided to leave my violin with my mom; I didn’t know how to protect it. However, with the stint of debilitating depression, it’d been quite a few years since I practiced seriously or took lessons. Therefore, the separation wasn’t a devastating one. My mind was focused on the trek itself, Reconnecting with the violin would have to come later.
And thanks to Fiddlershop and a friend, I’d later receive an inexpensive student violin in Indianapolis, IN.
When I first pedaled off…
I tried to play it off; the gear was so heavy! Every pedal stroke felt like pushing a boulder up a mountain with your feet. Fiji’s 47 pounds sitting in the trailer didn’t help.
Less than a mile in, the clouds burst. Taking Fiji out and finding cover, I realized her anxious panting had caused a heat wave in the trailer. She could have suffocated.
I stood under a tree with Fiji next to me on a leash. I noticed purple dye from my poncho bleeding into the street. I was soaked. “Good for nothin’, poncho!”
Rain still dropping in buckets, I cycled further down the street and stopped at a bus stop. In the trash bin, I threw away Fiji’s trailer rain cover and my poncho. Both objects served no purpose. Plus, it was a warm day despite the rain, and I was so out of shape that the cool water was a welcome relief from the pain pulsing in my legs and the exercise-induced hot flash.
About five miles in…
I could no longer take it. I stopped at a church, ready to camp for the night. Wet and achy, I was going to camp for the night. However, a woman named Lois spotted me and insisted I come to her home instead. That night, I volunteered at the food pantry she ran. Such kindness set the tone for all six months of my adventure.
Each day thereafter, I grew in confidence and endurance. I went on to bicycle 30 miles per day on average and my longest day was 80 miles and 22 hours. But that’s a story for next time!
TIPS FOR THE INEXPERIENCED ADVENTURE CYCLIST
If you’re setting off on any type of adventure with little to no experience, then…
- Take it slow. Don’t rush yourself. But try to achieve a new accolade with each passing day.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People are nice — for the most part. It’s OK to seek counsel.
- Learning stuff on the road such as putting on panniers and patching up a tube is stressful, but it’s not the end of the world. You’ll learn. Have patience with yourself and the journey.
- Don’t let inexperience cause you to procrastinate. Life is too short to keep delaying things. Eventually, we have to take what little we know and seize the day.