I’m ready to ride a loaded bike for the first time. I am carrying the tent in the rear rack, plus two panniers full of clothes, and the handlebar bag also full of stuff.
I will be carrying more than this during the actual tour, but this was a good enough load for a test ride.
Yes, riding a bike which is carrying a load is quite different.
I found it more difficult to get in and out. The rear panniers and the tent on the rear rack forced me to stretch the leg further and keep it in the air longer. I need to work on my stretching exercises to enhance amplitude and range of motion.
Because it is so much heavier now, it is more difficult to raise it from the floor to position it in the direction you want to go, something that I did without even thinking before. I realize that before stopping I need to plan where I will be going so I already leave the bike prepared to take off.
Also, when you are standing holding the bike you have to make it sure you keep it straight and balanced otherwise it will go down to the floor fast. Trust me on this one!
I agree with Matt Damon who said, “I think many of our problems as a country would be solved if people had thick passports. There’s just no substitute for actually going and seeing things.”
“Well, this is true, but is not always true, not for everybody at least,” Steve said. “It depends on one’s mindset and how rigid his beliefs are. It is sad, but an individual can travel to the most exotic places on Earth, places that are enormously different from his own, and still come out of the experience with his mind closed and with the same bias and prejudice he had when he began his journey, if not more. Instead of remaining open and accepting to be touched and transformed, all the person does is to compare, judge, and reaffirm to himself how much better he and the members of ‘his tribe’ are. He approaches the situation not as a visitor, but as a colonizer who feels the need to fix and change cultures he doesn’t understand.”
“Good point, Steve. It reminds me of what James A. Michener once said, ‘If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, and avoid the people, you might better stay home.'”
“We are by nature observers, and thereby learners. That is our permanent state.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
In order to bring Heaven to Earth we have to become observers of the world. If we are excessively distracted, we become unable to see the immense beauty that is all around us. If we are lost in our distractions, we don’t remember to connect, communicate and commune with the Ultimate Mystery. We don’t recognize the Divine Presence in the Universe, and we forget to reveal the wonders that we have discovered, and that are available to all of us.
Pros and Cons: the usual dilemma when there are choices involved…
Here are some of the thoughts crossing my mind…
I am used to this bike already, and I am comfortable with it. It has been used, so it has already been broken in. A new bike can surprise me. It will be the same model but it will be a completely new bike that will need to go through the break in period. On the other hand, all components will be brand new, and this may be a positive. The optimist in me says that, maybe, I will like the new bike even more than the bike I am riding now.
If I ship Steve’s bike, the time I’ll have his bicycle available for my training will be reduced. If I buy a new one, I can keep riding Steve’s bike until the day of my departure… and I think I need to do that in order to be well prepared for the journey.
I am going back and forth on riding Steve’s bike or a new one. I guess I need to create a good T chart with the pros and cons and make a decision.
One of the secrets for a happy existence, full of moments of awe and gratitude, is to approach our daily life as tourists and look at things, every single thing, even the most ordinary ones, as if we have never seen them before.
When we go to new sites we pay more attention, we observe more carefully, and this approach allows us see things that even the local residents don’t see anymore.
Familiarity and repetition can make even the most beautiful things invisible.
“Life is not measured by the breaths we take to get us through the day, but by the moments that take our breath away.”
Getting closer to people who are ‘different’ creates opportunities for us to get out of our comfort zones and our rigid frames of mind. It exposes us to new possibilities, new ways of seeing and understanding the world. It allows us to develop new visions. It helps us to evolve and change our paradigms.
Mark Twain once said, “Nothing so liberalizes a man and expands the kindly instincts that nature put in him as travel and contact with many kinds of people.”
He also said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness… Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
Interacting with many kinds of people, and making an effort not to judge, but to understand them, enriches our lives and allows us to embrace the diversity of our world. Traveling to different places and immersing ourselves in different cultures develops understanding and empathy.
Maya Angelou said, “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”
Last night, I decided to test the air mattress and the sleeping bag that are going to be my companions in the nights to come.
The air mattress, manufactured by Big Agnes from Steamboat Springs, CO, is 78″ in length. I am a 6′ 2″ guy, so I didn’t have any problems there.
The 2.5″ thickness took care of my 190 lb easily. No problem.
What I didn’t like was the width. It is somewhat narrow (20″ wide) and while laying on my back my arms were resting on the floor because there wasn’t not enough room left on the mattress to support my arms. I didn’t like that. I realize that 20″ is the standard width, but I know that they also offer pads that are 25″ wide. I’ll check them out in the future.
For more information on the Big Agnes air mattress check this site
Yes, it is an air mattress and you have to blow air into it. When I saw the valve for the first time I didn’t know what the grey and black parts were for. So I checked their website and found the following instructions… EZ-Flate Valve instructions: Twist black part of valve counter-clockwise to open. Blow into valve to inflate Hold gray portion of valve in mouth while spinning black portion clockwise to close.
The sleeping bag is great. It is a Marmot Mavericks 30 Semi Rec Long.
We are fundamentally free to explore, and exploration is essential for our growth.
We certainly learn from observing others, but, ultimately, we only really learn when we take the matter in our own hands and do it ourselves. It is mostly from the outcomes of our own experiences that we learn and grow, and this requires us to face our fears and take some risks.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great American philosopher, once said that “fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.” But he also gave us a prescription to overcome fear; he encouraged us to “do the thing you fear, and death of fear is certain.”
Wonderful things happen to those who do not allow fear to deter them from exploring. As Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
I go back to Mark Twain’s challenge often. It is a constant reminder that I must find the courage to sail away from my safe harbor, and live the big adventures that life has reserved for me.
Life is a great exploration, and the largest territory to explore is the domain of the ideas. For those with inquisitive minds, the exploration never ends; there will always be new ideas, and, consequently, new discoveries to be made.
We can always unlearn something old and learn something new.
I wish you a joyful exploration full of exciting discoveries.
I am starting this blog to document a little adventure: a bike ride on the Pacific Coast.
I’m Piero, the author.
I live in Florida with my wife and we have two wonderful sons who fill our lives with joy.
I am that type of guy who likes to examine life and spend great amounts of time in deep conversations about the great mysteries of existence. I guess this makes me a philosopher.
Although I like the saying, “life is a mystery to be lived, not an enigma to be solved,” I have to confess that the enigma keeps calling me back and seducing me.
I really don’t know what the transcendent purpose of life is, or even if such a thing as the ‘transcendent purpose of life’ really exists. But although I cannot know the answers, the inner craving to examine life — this desire to explore and find out why we are here, what life is about, what happened before birth, and what will happen after death, if anything — is alive and active within me.
I feel that Socrates, who said that “an unexamined life is not worth living,” was absolutely right. And because I want to live a life that is worth living, I have chosen to examine it.
Knowing that I am not alone in this pursuit has always encouraged me. I have always felt that I am in the company of many great explorers who preceded me on this quest, individuals such as the French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss who once said, “The scientific mind does not so much provide the right answers as ask the right questions.” I am not a scientist, this I know. But I also know that even though I will not be able to reach final answers, if I keep asking, I will, at least, refine the questions.
Who am I? Well, here we go… there are so many right answers for this question!
I know who I am… and at the same time I don’t. Let’s say that I know who I aspire to be: an Explorer and an Inspirer. I aspire to explore and to inspire before I expire.
Welcome to my blog.
If you want to know a little bit more about me, check my site
Number 1 – Well, I guess it all started with the health scare. I woke up with this thing in my throat and I thought, “This is it! I am going to die!” I completely freaked out. Until hearing the doctor say that I was OK, I had miserable days, living in fear… fear of dying.
Number 2 – Then, with this renewed awareness of impending death, came the urge to take action. I went back to my “bucket list,” and there it was, Item # 1 – “Hike the Appalachian Trail, or the Swiss Alps during summer, or do some other walking meditation. Meet wise teachers, have new insights, and grow.”
Number 3 – Then I watched the movie “The Way” directed by Emilio Estevez, with his father, Martin Sheen, in the leading role. In the movie, the son invites his father to walk with him the Camino de Santiago (“The Way of St. James”), a long and popular pilgrimage route that goes from the south of France, through the north of Spain, to the city of Santiago de Compostela. The father rejects the invitation based on the important and urgent things he believes he has to do, the responsibilities that, in his mind, don’t allow him to take time off and live a carefree life. A few days later he receives a call informing that his son has died in a tragic accident. He goes to France to retrieve the body but rather than return home, he decides to embark on the pilgrimage to honor his son’s desire to finish the journey, carrying his son’s ashes with him along The Way. The pilgrimage, and with it, the time to examine life, has a profound impact on him.
Needless to say that the movie had a huge impact on me. I said to myself, “It is time!”
Number 4 – Then there was Free-Spirit-Steve, my friend, who continues to open my eyes to possibilities. He had recently taken time off and lived his adventure, riding a bike, solo, through beautiful Colorado.
Put these things together, and a few more, and, somehow, here I am. I am not going to walk, but I will be biking. I am not going to hit the Appalachian Trail or the Swiss Alps (at least, not this time), but I will be on the Pacific Coast Bike Route soon. I am embarking on my first solo self-supported bike ride from Portland , OR, to San Francisco, CA, and I plan to share this experience with you.