A True Odyssey
I'm in Northeast Pennsylvania. What a wild ride it's been. I've walked ~4000 miles now and the Summer has been a real scorcher!
I successfully made it to the Canadian border in Fort Kent, Maine where I joined Hwy US 1. I started back South after that but quickly realized that pedestrians were not allowed on large sections of that road. By the time I finally left Maine, having spent 1 month in the state, I began to vaguely travel farther West and inland. There have been several heat waves this Summer and, according to the Farmer's Almanac, it has been an uncharacteristically dry and hot season for the region. After having a handful of times experiencing something approaching a panic attack (usually aided by a poorly timed edible in the relatively cool morning before hitting the road), I began to flirt with the idea of other options.
Back in June, when I was still on the Appalachian Trail proper, I would fantasize about road walking in order to assuage the psychic and physical pain of the task. Now that I felt that my refuge of the road had started to betray me, my mind started to wander to getting back on my bicycle.
As per my highly mutable, original plan, I intended to get on my bike in Key West and then travel generally West on the South Tier bike route: however, the trail birthed a new opportunity and consideration.
From Maine, I walked through New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey and then into Pennsylvania. By the time I was in New York, I decided to leave the road and was committed to returning to the trail in order to escape the merciless heat and was content with that for a time. Then, I crossed the New Jersey border into Pennsylvania. Some family friends reached out to me about staying with them and I gladly accepted the offer. I was able to borrow a bike in order to get around and experienced quite an attitudinal shift. My bike was all packed up at my parents' house. waiting like an ace in the hole to be unleashed. As I crushed 10s of miles effortlessly in a fraction of the time and without even feeling the distance I realized that this was going to be the best, next move.
As fate would have it, my family friend was going out of town for a week and offered to let me stay at their house for that duration. This felt like an unambiguous opportunity to get myself right as I could really start to sense that burnout was creeping in for me and this adventure. I again accepted this offer, got my bike affairs in order and am now taking a handful of consecutive zeros while I wait for my bike to arrive.
This is a good moment of rest for my mental, physical and emotional health. I remember very clearly in November of 2018 feeling burnt out of biking. There was a clear psychic pain anytime I considered going for a bike ride because it had become my only outlet for recreation. Beyond being my sole escape from the doldrums of life, I had also saddled it with a rigid structure of trying to bike on every road within the perimeter of Atlanta through something called Wandrer.Earth. This pursuit, though fun at first, robbed me of the innocent and unbridled joy that cycling had always provided me. Exhausted, on a 120 mile ride to Augusta, Georgia with a friend, I made the decision there and then to hike the Appalachian Trail in the Spring of 2019.
Back in the current moment now, I recall the lesson I learned then. There is a fine line for me when too much structure becomes toxic and poisons the things I once loved. So, in order to keep this adventure pure and not have it transition into something I dread each day, I am returning to my bike. Again, all of these incremental changes have been captured in the podcast, but I like to have a general prospectus that outlines my plans and intentions as an entree to anyone who may come across this page.
Love you, bye!