Libations with friends
has ways of instigating
both love and danger.
If I recall correctly, the idea to go on a bicycle tour first started late last fall, after my friend John returned from a through-hike of the Appalachian Trail. He had recently found himself on some crossroads of life, so he decided an adventure was what he needed. And when he returned from the woods, my formerly silly and at-times awkward friend seemed more like a Zen master; he probably knew karate too from all I could tell. It was obvious by the side-effects that John’s journey was more than a vacation. He left the comfort of his life as he’s known it, from a stable work life all the way to the routine of social events with friends, to spend the better part of a year walking in the forest across the United States. And despite the difficulty of it all, he came out the other end a different person. And he said he’d do it all over again if he could afford the time.
As he told me his trail stories, I just thought to myself, “I want that too.” I mean, I don’t want to do that, but I want that. The challenge, the adventure, the experience. So one night while I hung out with John and our mutual friend, Courtney, as he regaled us with tales of the trail, I let it slide that I would like to do something like that. Courtney jumped right in with, “You should go for a bike ride though!” The beer that night might have encouraged her a bit, but it sounded like she basically decided I would do this before I even did.
So here we are, about eight months later, and I think I’m about as sure that I’m doing this as Courtney was last fall. Starting on Monday, August 28, I’m going to begin my bike tour along the Mississippi River Trail starting in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and ending in St. Louis, Missouri. I’m reserving about a month to complete the trip, though it should take less than three weeks to bike that distance at the rate I have planned.
Though there have been other projects that have occupied much of my time the last eight months, this adventure has very much been on my mind throughout. A lot of this has just been excitement; how many interesting stories will I have of strange people? How many stars will I see under the dark skies of central Iowa? What kind of things will I learn by undertaking this journey? But a lot of it has also been concern. Can I regularly ride over 50 miles a day? Will my money hold out? Do I even know all the things that I’m going to need for the trip? What will I do if something on the bike breaks while I’m in the middle of nowhere?
That last one was a big question for me. I’ve never been much of a fix-it guy, so the very real possibility that I would have to repair my bike along the side of the road some 20 miles from the nearest town or even wayside rest kinda scared the hell out of me.
So I did what anyone would do. I got a job at a bike shop as a bike mechanic apprentice.
This is the first post of a new series on this blog. At least for the time being, LiteralHuman will be repurposed to cover both my preparation for and execution of my bike tour to St. Louis from northern Minnesota. And just for fun, each post will start with a haiku.