Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Answer to all your Questions

Upon hearing that I am considering pedaling my way around the planet, the two most common questions I get are:
1. Where will you go?
2. How will you cross the oceans?

These are usually followed by logistical questions such as:
- Where will you sleep?
- What will you eat?
- How will you overcome the language barrier?

While there are probably good answers to all of these, providing good answers to every question regarding cycle touring in some ways defeats the point of cycle touring.

Benjamin Franklin is credited with the saying, "Some people die at 25 and aren't buried until 75." If you've never lived every day different than the last -- sleeping in a new place, meeting new people, departing the old, not knowing where or what you will eat for the next meal -- it makes sense to want to answer every question to the finest detail. But when you live on tour, whether on a bike, on your feet, or in a van, you quickly learn that the best way to tour is without preparing for every possibility to a "t." You learn to have faith in your ability to find what you need to survive: Food, water, a place to sleep, and company.

Of course, I can tell you what happened last time (or you could read it yourself on that blog) and I could predict to a certain extent what will happen this time. I'll probably go east. I'll most likely fly across the oceans. Chances are I'll sleep in a tent not far from the road. But if I knew all the answers, that would take away from the experience. Many people think cycle touring is imprisoning -- you can't go far each day, you don't have all the luxuries of home. You don't know who you'll meet. Nothing is certain.

I plea that, on tour, the only prison left is your fear. Fear can be more of a cage than the expectations of society or the stuff you own. Either you expand your comfort zone or you are perpetually uncomfortable. It is terrifying, yes, but it is rewarding. How many of us live by the phrase, "do one thing every day that scares you?" How many of us will reach our graves and wish we hadn't planned so much? Having only your fear to conquer is the freest you will ever be.

I know, I'm getting dramatic. But I really think we let our fear stop us too often. Everybody tells me, "I could never live like that." And that's fine -- I'm not trying to convince you to live otherwise. Maybe I'm just the kid outside the classroom window, making faces as if saying, "This could be you! Skip class and play outside!" Cycle touring isn't the only crazy idea I've had, nor would someone calling me crazy be the first. It's not my job to convince anyone of anything. It's my job to do crazy shit with my life. Most people look at me funny. But every now and then, I inspire someone.

So, the answer to all your questions... where will I go? What will I eat? ...I don't know. And that's exactly the way it should be.

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