Catching Up: OK, I have made it to Recharge Lake recreation area just outside of York Nebraska. I just might be sitting in a Pizza Hut enjoying AC and beverages right now while it bakes at a mellow 90 degrees outside right now. Camping is a wonderful thing I enjoy at civil temperatures and with shade, but shade is a foreign concept to Nebraska it seems. They don’t have a lot of trees here. I have no made it 2000 kilometres and I would say I am in the home stretch if it weren’t for the fact that I have another 14-15 days riding to get to Leadville. My body is slowly becoming more adjusted to riding so many hours day after day and maybe just maybe a little fat is turning to muscle. The legs are tired but getting stronger. I am tired of the long rolling hills of the midwest and maybe longing for a little of the flatness that they say Nebraska is made up of. I caught my first glimpse of this today as the last 30-40k were very flat by comparison. The reality is though that there will be a slight uphill the entire way now as the land slowly rises to the continental divide and the mountains.
Surprises: OK, my biggest shock and surprise is my father will be joining me in Leadville. He is going to drive out to Colorado and we will drive home together. You do not know what an incredible gift this is for me. My Dad has not seen me do any sports since I was a mid-teenager. I have always tried to explain the incredible energy of a Leadville type race but often words do it injustice. Well, I am pleased to announce my dad will be joining me there. Woohoo!
I checked into my hotel the other day in Omaha and the GM was checking me in. He says, ‘are you the guy cycling across the states?’ Um, ‘yes’ I answer back. He says their supervisor was warning them I was coming and to take care of me. Wow, I don’t know where word about something like this gets out but it is kind of fun.
I had my first negative experience of the entire trip in a random meeting with a meth-addict/challenged person in downtown Omaha the other day who followed me down the street to my hotel yelling at me and the ‘Wells Fargo’ bank people. We were all (pardon my language) ‘fucking fascist bank people,’ and ‘hey you fuckhead in the green ball cap and blue t-shirt you are a fucking asshole also.’ I am just quoting. I walked on and ignored. What is the point of challenging logic like that. I mean some of the people I have worked with over the years probably have felt like yelling that at me also.
Last night I was hosted by an incredibly giving person in Lincoln Nebraska. I have never met him before but here is where the connection started. My daughter posted on Reddit that her dad was doing this weird trip across the US and needed a place to stay in Lincoln Nebraska. Someone answered and offered his home. I mean incredible the trust and connectivity of the digital world. Honestly I met a new friend last night who opened his home, went to work and trusted me with everything based on a vague digital human connection. That really sums up the beauty of this whole trip and what has happened in my heart. I am constantly amazed by people, places and things and the beauty of life when we seek it. That is what a bicycle has brought to me not only in this trip but in the last few years. One of the cycling connections I have is with a group of guys from London. Rod, Charlie, Manny, Ray, Paula and many others. That random connection started at a small bike race I did in Bayfield where Paul and I spent a couple hours racing together and chatting while we raced. OK. Paul chatted and I fit in odd words between breaths. He dusted me in the end which is the way our life works together but a group of friends and connections was formed. Serendipity and beauty join.
Solitude & Silence:
As many of you might know I am an only child. I know many only children who wish they had have had siblings. I never wished for such a fate oddly. I enjoyed being alone. I enjoyed long periods of silence. In the last 15 years traveling for work, many of my best days were the days where I literally never had to communicate with people in a real manner. Now I get that every day. I sit now in this Pizza Hut and except for the lady coming every now and then to refill my beverages. I say hi to a few people through the day but for the most part I live a solitary existence and I am totally OK with that. The long period of silences while I ride are sometimes filled with Podcasts, and sometimes with stories (the voice of Dick Hill and the Jack Reacher stories) but mostly they are filled with my own mind working through thoughts, feelings and ideas. I have been slowly with each mile putting to rest the last 16 years of corporate BS and the wreckage it left on my own soul. Silence and solitude force you to come to grips with your own darkness and light. It is for this reason that I have always been attracted to the Catholic concept of retreat that involved solitude and quiet, rather than the protestant version that always involved other people, food, fellowship and noise. I prefer the solitude that training for a Leadville brings to your soul. Isn’t it expressive that in the middle of ultra-endurance events involving thousands of people I find myself alone for many hours?
Fears Not Realized:
I wrote about fears a couple posts ago and I wanted to revisit the topic. I am amazed by the amount of fears that I had before the trip that haven’t been realized and that will bring me to a close after this long rambling post from the York Nebraska Pizza Hut. Here are the things I was afraid of and plagued me before I started. Places to stay: Wow, this has been met in spades. What an incredible gift it has been to find inexpensive camp sites and towns and individuals who have opened their homes and lives and souls to me. Aggressive drivers: Again a total surprise that even today when I have a 6′-8′ shoulder on highway 34 in Nebraska people still pull into the other lane to pass me. I mean, I have been climbing hills at my glacial pace with the huge trailer and cars and trucks will wait at my 6k per hour pace before passing me. I have only been buzzed once in the entire trip. UPS trucks have always passed me in the other lane. I mean in Stratford the UPS drivers figure it is their sport to try and hit me with their mirrors when they pass me. Routes: Where will I find the way to go. This hasn’t always been easy but what an incredible gift to continually find my way to the proper place.
You see, in Matthew 6:25 & 26 Jesus said we worry too much on the things of the past and the things of the future. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” I too often have forgotten that and this trip has been a constant engraving on my soul of this truth. Quit focussing on tomorrow and yesterday and live today, the day you have been given. Today I write because I have the ability to. Tomorrow I’ll ride and maybe write but I’ll wait until tomorrow to have that come to be. Today, I’ll relish in today and the gift of a $5 campsite and a place to sit in the cool.
I think today in my soul, I am more valuable than a sparrow!