Monday, May 12, 2014

Despair is a ok on an adventure of a lifetime

I am entering my third week of this bike tour.  My experiences on the road have been both everything I hoped this trip would be and so much more.  It's been much harder and exhausting than I thought.  In my arrogance and naive planning, I didn't quite account for the physicality of moving 80 pounds of gear up and down hills or the effects of cumulative fatigue.  I think I anticipated everything after I cut my teeth on the Washington cascades would be a breeze.  

Some days have been easier than others and I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy doing hard stuff anyway.  Each day I wake up with a condensed and concentrated fatigue in my legs and each day I agree to hop back on for more miles.

Deep exhaustion and fatigue make for interesting rides.  It is during these miles when I am most tired and broken down that emotions manifest and run away from me.  They are free to rage out and I have as much control over their starts and stops as I do over the weather.  I'm mostly alone on these roads, which may contribute to my expressive volatility, but there isn't an audience in the world right now for whom I would fake tough for and hide evidence that I cry.  A lot.

For about three or four days last week I may have cried for more time than I didn't.  I think it was a culmination of physical exhaustion, skinny sleep, poor fueling, lots of alone time, huge runaway extrapolations, and having nothing else to do but come up against myself.

It can be lonely, desparate, grueling, and overwhelming out here but it can also be an adrenline rush, beautiful, peaceful, and so satisfying to have everything I need strapped to my bike, to meet such interesting people, and to see places at a slower rate. I sip this nation's beauty instead of chug.

Ultimately even when I'm about ready to buy any POS car or truck with a working combustion engine, I know I'm doing what I want to do.  I'm really glad I'm out of the navy and that I'm on this chosen, voluntary adventure.  It asks a lot of me and I'm reminded what people can do when given purpose and they provide the motivation.  I'll take the ache in my neck and shoulders or the stiff wrist long into a ride, the hunger, cold, saddle soreness, zapped quads, and sunburnt lips if it's because I'm choosing this path and not wishing away my days in relative comfort. 

There are things about the navy and Hawaii that I miss, but there was a whole lot about me that was missing when I was there.  Every day I get my ass kicked out here and it's hard to believe it's only three weeks in when I feel like I've been riding east for most of my life. Everyday I learn a little something else about the world and of myself and I'm liking the widened perspective of both.  I'm seeing things I like and dislike in both myself and this country, but like all things, if we are honest, there's the black and white and the million shades of grey, and to acknowledge them all is to harness a lot of potential.  

Here is to that even on this chosen, once in a lifetime adventure there are moments of great despair and of great stoke and of extreme boredom.  I'm grateful for the entire spectrum and that I'm not numb to anything right now. 


  1. Hi Hannah...when you get to New York State (near Rochester), if you are not here already, we would like to offer you a place to stay and share your stories. I never got your Facebook invite and when you have time please add me (Timothy M Murphy). Safe travels!!!

  2. Hi Hannah

    be careful

    we are waiting a fresh hannah for Ultra D Day Trail !

    management team

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  4. Thats awesome. Keep on truckin.

  5. Hey Hannnah! This is Patrick, you stopped in and had breakfast at the Chuck Wagon on Mackinac Island yesterday morning and I was your server. I just got done checking out your Blogspot and also noticed/watched your TED Talks video, which was awesome!.....I had never met anyone who's actually been on one before yesterday. So that makes you a first...and it was great! I feel like I your the type of person who I would enjoy a long conversation with. I just wanted to stop in and let you know that my hopes, prayers, and love are with you on your journey and that you always find the silver lining should you succeed or fail. Carpe Diem! p.s. My sister and you are more alike than you know.

  6. Patrick! I could have hung around happily to shoot the breeze but I had that ferry to catch. If the navy taught me anything it's don't miss ship's movement...also that too much time on an island makes me crazy. Good talking to you though and I'm glad you are digging the blog. I appreciate it :)