Staring at my readied bike loaded with gear for this summer’s epic adventure, I am filled with… fear, excitement, anxiety, worry, nerves…
I’ve read so many articles and blogs and books about traveling. The common theme in these stories is excitement. The stories often have a dramatic edge. In the spirit of excitement, there is often reckless abandonment of caution and unplanned success. The stories are invigorating and inspiring – always with a happy ending. As my bike stares back at me, daring me … I find myself thinking that I’ve never read the version of the story that started with a daunting case of nerves. This seems to be my story.
The inspiration for this summer’s adventure began a few lifetimes ago. When I was young, my family used to camp. I remember watching bicyclists loaded with camping gear trekking along California blue roads from the window of our VW Camper. I loved to ride my bike. And I was instantly in love with the idea of being self-sufficient on two-wheels trekking anywhere I wanted to go.
Anyone who has known me over the past few decades could testify that I am an adventurous person. I have been known to get up and go do something based on very little information, sometimes on just an idea that something would be fun. I have had many happy endings to those stories, just like those I have read. So why worry now?
I stare at my bike. Its panniers and fork bags puffy with camping gear. As if in answer to my question, the front fork bag of my bike falls off and spills.
It’s the logistics of this trip that make it like no other. I’ve always been able to fill a backpack or a suitcase and go. But this summer, the adventure includes more than what can be packed in a backpack. We’ve planned a trip that involves bicycling around a foreign country for three months. The activities on the trip are to include sightseeing, culinary adventures, fishing, photography, backpacking and maybe even pack rafting. Aside from test packing and other activities we can do to get ready while in Alaska, the additional logistics are mind boggling. In order to get this trip started, there is the first leg – which seems to be the most daunting of the logistics – we need to maneuver all of our gear from our tiny village of Chignik Lake, through the city of Anchorage and all the way to the north island of Hokkaido, Japan. The other part of the logistics is planning for daily mileage and making sure we are in good enough shape to pull off this physical adventure.
All this planning is, of course, in theory. I have so many questions… How many miles can we realistically bike? Can we carry all the gear we want to carry? Are we over packing? Are we forgetting something critical? Will our gear be safe from thieves? Will we be able to find campgrounds as easily as we hope? Will the roads be safe to ride on? Are we going to have trouble transporting our gear with the airlines? Is this too big an undertaking?
So, Jack and I sat down to tackle, not the questions, but the psychology behind the questions. Our discussion centered around the question, “Do we really want to take on a trip so far outside of our comfort zone?” The answer, it turned out, was a resounding Yes!
So, plane tickets have been purchased. The first test packing has been completed. Our trip itinerary is coming together. The bike and treadmill workouts are underway. And the faith that we are resourceful people is the response to those questions that really can’t be answered until we begin the journey.
And now I propose a toast: Here’s to another summer of epic proportions living well off the beaten path. Cheers!