Sunday, April 23, 2017

Madison, WI: The Ritual

There is a ritual common among bicycle tourists, and most lightweight travelers, I imagine. Sometimes known as “the great toss,” “the purge,” the choice swear words followed by an angry throwing of things over a cliff, or the “do I really need that,” I will refer to it here simply as “the ritual.”

When I did my first tour across the US, the ritual began while I was having lunch with some other cyclists. I pulled out a can opener to open a can of food, and they both looked at me, aghast.

“What,” one of them stumbled, “is that?

I could elaborate here, but the end result of that conversation was my can opener in the trash and the use of my Leatherman from that point on. Later that week I would lay out everything in my possession and mail home about 5 lbs worth.

For this tour (Cycle Humanity) I was hoping to come in at about 55 lbs dry. What that means is the weight of the bike and everything on it, minus myself, food, and water would weigh no more than 55 lbs. The bike itself is 26, plus fenders and a rack to hold the panniers (bicycle backpacks) another 2. When I did a practice pack, the two panniers came out at 21 lbs, putting the total at 49 lbs. Perfect.

When I left Minneapolis on Wednesday morning, I weighed everything together. I weigh 170, and holding the fully loaded bike on the scale, together we came in at… 255!? Yes, somewhere in there, my setup had gained 36 lbs, and the grand total of the bike, gear, food, and water was 85 lbs.

Needless to say, this was a little disappointing. Even if food and water weighed 15 lbs, 21 lbs still magically appeared from somewhere, and I didn’t even have my tent with me yet.

I could have done the ritual right then and there, but I figured I could ride with some extra weight for a few days and do the ritual in Madison.

Now that I’m preparing to leave Madison, I’ve made a few changes. For starters, I swapped my old Leatherman (the one I took across the US) for a much lighter version with fewer tools - a third of a pound saved there. I didn’t realize that my 15-degree sleeping bag weighed an entire 3 lbs, so I bought a 45-degree sleeping bag that weighs only 2 lbs (anybody want the old one? Used only twice with a liner. Seriously. Buy it from me). Don’t get me wrong, I still want to be prepared for that *one* night it’ll be 15 degrees out, but maybe I’ll just stay in a motel instead of carrying around an extra pound of gear.

So this week was a week of asking myself, do I really need…
  • A mini cribbage board?
  • The ability to change a broken spoke? (probably, but using a temporary “fiber spoke” I can do this with 20g instead of all the tools and a real spoke which amount to about 150g)
  • The ability to fix a broken chain? (tip: yes)
  • Two pairs of shorts? (going with no here)
  • A really cool belt that shows off my personality but whose cool mechanical buckle weighs half a pound? (no)
  • A 2.5 oz dumb phone in case my smartphone gets stolen? (no) - A smartphone? (so far invaluable for getting through cities...)
...and so on.

Not included in the 85 lbs was a 6 lb 6 oz tent which I left at home, having a 4 lb tent waiting for me in Madison - so to net lose weight I have to lose at least 4 lbs since I’m gaining the tent. I also discovered during my time in Madison that I would make copious use of lightweight hiking shoes (so I don’t have to walk around in cleats), so I found a pair that weighs in at 1 lb on discount at REI.

It’s a game that’s impossible to win, especially when you are touring for so long, so far from home, and especially when you have the mindset that wants to be prepared for every scenario, like me. It really makes you question what you need to survive, pushes how creative you can be, and the only person you’re punishing if you take more than you need is yourself.

I think a lot of people could benefit from an experience such as this.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Viroqua, WI to Madison, WI: "Another Homeless Guy"

When we last left off, I had failed to contact a Warmshowers host that was ready to have me, relegating myself to the perils of stealth camping. On this particular night, those perils were rain.

It started raining about 9 PM and I started realizing my bivvy sack wasn’t waterproof around 11. I then woke up every half hour or hour or so to another part of my body being wet, until 3 AM at which point most of the lower half of my body was wet (I had slept on a slight incline with my head at the top). I was debating spending $50 for 5 hours in a motel room when the rain stopped. I waited a few minutes to be sure, hopped out of my bag, changed into dry clothes, and started the laborious process of squeezing out everything wet and loading it onto my bike. I left camp that morning at 5 AM, having nothing better to do and no dry place to sleep.

It was beautiful out. I attempted to take a few photos but they really don’t do it justice. I admit being dry after a night of rain probably made it that much more enjoyable. Having the roads all to myself was nice, too -- a total of three cars passed me in the first hour.

After a few hours of pedaling, including some nasty hills ameliorated by petrichor, I came into a small city known as La Farge. I was told the two places to eat were the bar and a restaurant called “Sisters;” the latter being more expensive but much better. I opted for the latter, hedging my bets it would also be voluminous enough to feed a touring cyclist, and was rewarded with a rather large breakfast including OJ for $7 plus tip.

I stepped out a few times to retrieve various chargers and water bottles, and the second time was greeted, “Another homeless man’s come into La Farge this morning!” -- that’s how I made friends with Chris, a local with an interest in cycling. He ended up giving me the Wisconsin road map I never got in La Crosse and recommended a good road out of town. TTE - Talk to everyone!

It continued to rain for the next few hours, including some hail for which I was fortunately nearby cover. I discovered a town that wasn’t on the map -- Bunker Hill, WI -- which consisted of a bar and some RVs, and as the sun had come out, set my bike up as a drying rack for everything that would fit.

Around Cazenovia, WI, I passed an old fashioned auction -- a stage with a man yelling prices as fast as the brain could process them surrounded by about a hundred people and parked cars in a line as long as a football field on the side of the road. Also parked there… a horse and buggy? Yes, turns out there was an Amish community at the next city, Ironton, WI, and I even ended up racing a buggy for a while -- it would beat me up the hills and I’d pass it going down the other side. I think a selfie would have been particularly artistic, but also a bit rude, so I settled for a photo from behind.

I made camp for the night in Reedsburg. Not wanting to be caught out in the rain, I got permission from the local PD to sleep in a park with a pagoda. It was good I did because an awesome thunderstorm rolled in that night. I imagine it would have been less awesome stealth camping in the woods without a waterproof covering.

Day 5 -- finally, a day of sun! The rain passed over just as I finished packing at about 6 AM. I stopped in Baraboo to pick up lunch and discovered a number of Clif Bar flavors I didn’t know existed…

...before continuing on to Devil’s Lake, a nearby state park, to consume said lunch. The hills going out of the park were obnoxious, but traffic was light. A ferry out of Merrimac, a bit of pedaling with a headwind, and I was home.

I got in on Sunday, 4/16, and plan to leave again on Monday, 4/24. I’ve spent the week with friends and am rather enjoying myself, but am also itching to get out again. There will be one more blog post before I go, and then I’m headed to Chicago to see my cousin. Until next time!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Minneapolis, MN to Viroqua, WI: "You must have an amazing butt!"

Since this is the very first blog post where I actually tour, I’ll provide a little more background. Thus, this post can be the starting place of anyone who wants to “start from the beginning.”

In March of 2017 I left my job at Epic Systems in Verona, WI to bike around the world. After a few weeks of goodbyes and going through my bucket list of items for Madison, I moved my meager belongings to a closet in a friend’s house in Minneapolis, MN. I stayed with my mom (also in Minneapolis) for a few weeks, visiting friends from high school and preparing for tour.

...and exploding my things all over her basement. Thanks, Mom!

While in Minneapolis, there was a certain peace that came over me -- it occurred to me that, for this brief period in my life, I had nothing to do. While a few people had already bought postcards for my bike around the world, I could theoretically return the money and do… well, anything. Or hey… nothing.

Of course, I am not the kind of person to do nothing. After a week of getting up whenever I wanted and letting the dog out every two hours, I began to get restless. The pieces of the tour (bike parts, mostly, but also some sewing projects, like reflective striping on my jacket) were slowly coming together, and at some point, there was just one piece I needed for my bike. I had ordered it online and it was supposed to arrive later that week, but I didn’t want to wait. After calling around to 7 bike shops in the area, I managed to find it and complete my bicycle.

I've dubbed her Louisa.

On Wednesday, April 12th, 2017, I left my mom’s house in Minneapolis by bike. She rode with me for the first 15 miles; then, on the bank of the Mississippi in St. Paul, we hugged, she stopped taking photos long enough to hug me, and then I pedaled on without her (while she continued to take photos).

I don't always wear a giant pink thing on my head -- that's a rain cover. Love you, Mom.

There was one thing missing from my entourage: my tent was waiting for me in Madison. I was planning to use a waterproof shell for my sleeping bag known as a “bivvy” (short for “bivouac”), but was still hesitant to sleep in the rain, and it was supposed to rain that night. I had planned to make it to Red Wing, a mere 60 miles from Minneapolis, but neglected to account for the bend in the river.

As a result, when I thought I was passing through Hastings, I was only passing through West St. Paul (with no “Welcome to…” signs to show me my error), and when I passed a map that showed me still 15 miles from Hastings… I was pretty frustrated. I didn’t have the energy to make it to Red Wing, much less sleep in the rain. So, I called in a favor -- my mom found a friend of a friend in Prescott, WI, happy to feed and house me for the night, for which I was most grateful. The warm bed and a story from a marina manager I ran into at Chipotle kept my spirits up (check the map in a few days for the story), despite the rain and the 30 effective miles after 60 miles of pedaling a winding river.

Thursday was better -- it was sunny, and the river wasn’t so windy. It was supposed to rain again on Friday, so my goal was to make it to another person kind enough to house me indoors: this one, a Warmshowers host in Viroqua, WI (Warmshowers is more or less Couchsurf, but exclusively for touring cyclists). I was still 30 miles behind, as I had chosen Viroqua assuming I’d spend my first night in Red Wing, so I had 2.5 days of riding to do in 2 days. But, it was sunny, and warm, and less windy, and all in all a pretty non-eventful day, except that being non-eventful was an event in itself given the happenings of the previous day.

Nothing eventful going on here.

I did my first stealth camp of the trip, finding a spot behind what appeared to be a construction site of some kind outside of Minnesota City, MN, just before Winona, WI. I was almost unstealthy the next morning -- I turned my headlamp off a second too late as a car drove by the side road and stopped for a few seconds, looking my way, I imagine, before continuing on and dismissing me as nothing worth investigating.

On day 3 I made it through Winona before realizing the next bridge to the other side of the river (the side I wanted to be on) was I-90 -- and I didn’t know if it had a pedestrian ramp or not. After a fair bit of Googling using Kwik Trip’s wifi, I decided it wasn’t worth the risk of biking down and needing to bike back to Winona or biking an additional 40 miles to the next crossing in Lansing, IA, so I went back through Winona to cross into Wisconsin. I also left the Mississippi River Trail, MRT, or, as I’d been calling it in my head, the “Mert,” to forge my own path.

Goodbye, Mert.

Then, the rain came.

And the headwind.

And the hills.

Wisconsin was not happy to see me.

Not for the first few hours, anyways. After making it through a quaint little town called Trempealeau, I discovered a gravel trail that would take me the rest of the way to La Crosse, where I planned to get lunch and plan a route to Viroqua. Riding on that trail seemed to pacify whatever forces were unhappy to see me -- the wind died down, the sun came out, and turns out most of the trail was through a wildlife reserve.

After making it to Onalaska, a city just 2 miles north of La Crosse, I realized I had no idea where I was going. The trail didn’t continue on to La Crosse, and even after getting there, I still needed to find an info center to get a map of Wisconsin -- I was still using the periphery of the Minnesota map I’d been using the past few days. But Minnesota was behind me now.

Fortunately, there was a bike shop in front of me. Coulee Bicycle Co -- formerly known as Blue Heron -- which had, coincidentally, just transformed from a “let’s sell lots of bikes” business model to a “stop by and have coffee and let’s geek out about mechanic-ing” bike shop. So I went in… and had coffee… and we geeked out about mechanic-ing.

Kevin, the owner, was not only incredibly helpful in getting me on my way and kind in letting me take lunch at his shop and use his wifi to plan my route outside of La Crosse, he was just a cool character. The reason, he said, he changed from the Blue Heron model to the Coulee Bicycle Co model, was because he didn’t want to focus on meeting quotas -- he wanted to focus on providing awesome service. The shop was mostly service space and a few tables for (complimentary!) coffee, but the few bikes that were for sale were unquestionably beautiful. I was glad I’d stopped by, and regret not having taken more photos.

I also ran into a fellow cyclist who shared not one, but two stories with me, so I’ll place them on the map shortly.

And then… it was on to La Crosse! Kind of! Because I almost immediately got lost again. But in getting lost, I discovered that La Crosse was where Kwik Twip is based.

Where you can get every kind of fuel you ever wanted.

And I also ran into Cal.

“Are you lost?”


“How far did you bike today?”

“40 miles so far.”

“You must have an amazing butt! homo.”

Cal was quite kind. And retired. And thus had free time. And since I was worried about making it to Viroqua before nightfall, and was lost, he gave me a ride out of town. Cal also told me a story, so that will go on the map soon as well.

The route Cal and I settled on was highway 14, which was apparently the least hilly route out from the river basin, but it was still very hilly…

What's around the bend? More hill.

...and after a while, the shoulder kind of disappeared… that sucked. It also started to rain, and there was a headwind, so Wisconsin again became rather uninviting -- rain, headwind, traffic, small shoulder. The last six miles to Viroqua had a nice commuter path and the sun was kind enough to come out, but when I got to Viroqua, I didn’t have service, and thus could not contact my Warmshowers host… it was completely my fault for betting on my cell phone to finalize the details. I did find internet at a McDonald’s to see if she had e-mailed me; she had not. It wouldn’t be until I got to Madison two days later that I would find out she had texted me (per my request -- again a shortsighted one) confirming I could stay… since it wasn’t two days later, I filled up my water, headed out of town, and settled in for night two of stealth camping.

A rainy night.

Without a tent.

This was when I discovered my bivvy sack was not waterproof.

Doom approaches. Wet, miserable doom.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Great Fooding

Waiting in line at the grocery store, I look at the array of candies and chocolates that is always at the cashier’s. Hesitantly, I pick a bag of chocolate and place it on the conveyer belt, hold it there for a few seconds while contorting my face into all sorts of well-meaning expressions, then put it back.

“Nice self-control,” says the cashier.

I look up at him and reply, “Actually, I’m going to get ice cream instead. It’s more calorie dense.”

- - -

Next to, Are you going to bike across the oceans? one of the most common questions I get is, What do you eat?

When on a bicycle tour, one basically becomes a vacuum that consumes everything in his or her path. With a fully loaded bicycle, the average touring cyclist might burn around 55 calories per mile. Let’s say you average 12 mph and pedal for 6 hours a day, so that’s 72 miles a day. That means you’re burning about 4,000 calories from biking alone. There’s the additional 2,000 calories the average human burns just by being alive (assuming you don’t just lie on the couch all day… *cough* America), so let’s say the average cycle tourist needs to consume about 6,000 calories a day.

You can see why it’s important to consume calorie-dense foods - eat something “healthy” like Cheerios that only has 100 calories per 1 cup serving and you need 60 servings, or 5 entire boxes to make sure the pedals keep turning. Eat something a less less “healthy:” peanut butter, which has 200 calories per 2 T serving, and you only need 30 servings, or 2 containers.

Of course, while eating straight peanut butter is cheaper than eating straight Cheerios, variety is still necessary (and nice). Here are the results of my first trip to the grocery store:

I would later recall the benefits of Nutella (it tastes good) and add that to my daily food regimen. The green bags are dried soup -- again, calorie dense, but lightweight.

So, calories are one food group for the touring cyclist. The other? Salt. It’s funny how our bodies adjust our enjoyment of food so what is needed tastes good at the time -- anybody else who eats fries with me on tour probably thinks I’m disgusting. But after biking 30 miles I swear fries taste like nothing unless they have a least an entire salt packet or two emptied on them.

What do I eat on tour?

Whatever I want. But also… whatever I need.

I made it from Minneapolis to Madison and am spending the week here with friends. Expect another post soon - likely Thursday, 4/20/17. We’re just getting warmed up.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Not-So-Secret Society

Days until departure: 3, if this bike part gets here in 2.

When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence.

My senior year of college, I came up with an idea for a secret society of people that are good and help each other. It sounds a little abstract -- I never went so far as to define what makes a “good person” or how the society was to be organized or expanded. I just liked the idea of having people you could rely on to help you out in a pinch, there always being a door you could knock on if in need of a place to stay, a warm meal, if your phone and wallet were stolen and you needed someone to spot you for a cab ride home, or maybe if you just needed someone to talk to. Members could have been identified by a sign on their door or a pin on their lapel or maybe a directory of some kind. Fans of the TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender might recall the Order of the White Lotus whose members identified themselves by a certain set of moves in the fictional board game Pai Sho.

I never worked out the details of my Society, it was just an idea.

Last year a friend picked me up from the bus stop. After hugging and loading my suitcase, she couldn’t start the car. When I suggested we ask someone for a jump, my friend responded: “People don’t do that any more.” With respect to my friend, I don’t think that’s true at all. Yes, we now spend more time indoors (93%) than ever, and our children spend less time outdoors than our prisoners. We spend more time watching TV and less time talking to strangers. This can, understandably, create the perception that people are less likely to help one another. But I don’t think there’s any substantive evidence to indicate that’s true. This story is circumstantial, of course, but the second person I asked didn’t hesitate to help us jump the car. In fact, we were the second hand he was giving that day, as he was there volunteering for a local church by picking up a homeless person who bussed into town looking for a job.

We couldn’t get my friend’s car to start, but then another homeless person walked by who was once a car mechanic. He was able to get the jump to work. I didn’t have to, but I gave him a few dollars for his time.

I know, I know, circumstantial. It’s complete chance that I’d run into a church volunteer with jumper cables at the exact moment my friend’s car died and that an ex-car mechanic would walk by as we failed to do the jump.

But there’s also Nic, the friend who spent his entire Saturday helping me move. And Edwin, the AT&T employee who promised I’d be taken care of if I ever biked through Columbia. There’s the volunteers at the community bike shop who let me use their tools free of charge (though I chose to donate anyways). When I was stuck in the Chicago airport on the way back from my service project, 90 Bikes, 90 Days, there was Michael, who bought me dinner, a drink, and was excellent company for a few hours while the airline got things sorted. There was Gene, who invited my then-girlfriend and I to sleep on his property when we were biking across the country, who let us borrow his fishing poles and taught us to filet and cook the fish we caught for dinner that night.

All circumstantial? Okay. All just “being polite” or doing it for their own interest? Some of them, maybe. I know there’s a lot of shit and shitty people in the world (counterpoint: maybe there are just people dealing with their own shit as best they can). I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect people to be nice. I know my evidence is just as circumstantial as the counterargument. But, I see more evidence that the Secret Society of Good People Who Help Each Other is actually a not-so-secret society rather than an idea a naive college student had that never actualized. I think it’s so not-secret, in fact, that it’s just people.

Since quitting my job, moving to Minneapolis, and working to realize this trip, I have experienced more kindness from strangers than when my lifestyle was sleep, work, consume, repeat. I can’t prove it, but I think when you do extraordinary things with your life, you meet extraordinary people. I’m doing this project because I care about bringing something positive to the world. I’m blogging about it because I think writing can propagate ideas. How do we build empathy and compassion across boundaries of space; external differences such as race, class, and religion; and obstacles such as a sensationalized and fear-based media? How do we create trust in people who don’t have the resources (either physically or mentally) to think beyond themselves?

Maybe we just go outside.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Route Maps

Days until departure: 4-10

The long awaited route maps are here! Please note: these are estimates of my routes. I might bike faster or slower, take long cuts or shortcuts, or opt into or out of destinations not listed or listed. This is a sketch of all the places I'd like to visit at a minimum, but as is the nature of cycle touring, things could change drastically. If someone does donate for a souvenir according to these maps, though, I will do my best to honor it.

Below, my anticipated route through the US: depart from Minneapolis, pass through Madison, WI; Champaign, IL; and Washington, DC; fly out of JFK airport in New York.

(click to enlarge)

I also have a friend in Boston, MA I'd like to visit, but it's about $400 more to fly out of Boston. If there's time, it would actually be cheaper to bike to Boston, take the train back to New York, and fly out of New York as planned.

Next, my anticipated route through Europe: fly into London, do a clockwise loop of the UK and Ireland, go across the sleeve to France, then do a large, clockwise loop of much of the rest of Europe, ending on a boat to Morocco from Gibraltar.

(click to enlarge)

TBD: if I will visit Scandinavia. I will research more (routes, cost, timing with visas) once in Europe.

I plan to land in Morocco around November. That's more than 6 months from now, and I don't see any point in planning beyond that. I may or may not post a route estimate for Africa as it draws closer.

For now, if you think it'd be cool to get a postcard, souvenir, or photo from anywhere on or near my route, consider donating in exchange for one: support my trip!

Assuming no unforeseen circumstances, there should be just a few more posts until my departure next week or the week after. 'Till next time.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


Days until departure: 7-14
Both for the purposes of transparency and because I think it’s good to do, I want to outline my goals for this project. I thought about opening with the quote “Without a goal, you can’t score;” but, I don’t see goals as a way of scoring so much as a way of showing intent and providing direction. With most major projects, the goals tend to change as the project evolves, and you never end up “scoring” in the way you thought you would. It’s important to me that the project remain at least a little organic (maybe I should have opened with, “blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape”).

Without further ado or philosophizing, though, my goals are, currently:
  1. Meet people.
  2. Propagate humanity through music, dance, and storytelling.
  3. Learn and grow. Explore the unknown.
  4. Have fun.
  5. Don’t die.
A secondary goal, but one constantly in the back of my mind nonetheless, is, “how could I do this forever?” If I want to travel for a “long time” without learning how to hunt and gather, I will need to trade something of value for food (this “something” could be money, but it doesn’t have to be. There are other things people will trade for food). The real question I need to answer is: How do I add value to the world? And then, How do I add a lot of value to the world?

While many out there will glady exchange a meal for a story, not everyone will. I’d like to think that some marketable skill will be born out of this trip. I’ve thought about doing a travel advice column, but to be honest, that market is pretty saturated -- even if you go as specific as bicycle touring advice (I have come across at least three such individuals in the past few months, each more established than the next). Furthermore, while I am good at bicycle touring and no doubt have a fountain of knowledge to give on the topic, part of the joy of touring for me is figuring it out. I don’t think I would enjoy telling people the minutiae of touring because I don’t see beauty in the minutiae, I see beauty in the unknown, the organic evolution of vulnerable intention when it rubs up against reality, spontaneity, and chance.

Some columnists make their living by offering empathy (ex: Dear Sugar AKA Cheryl Strayed). I think that is close to what I want. Maybe I could be some sort of international mediator? But like, a less political one than a diplomat: I don’t want to interact with governments, I want to interact with people. On the other hand, politics has also been in the back of my mind. In terms of adding a lot of value to the world, politics, while perhaps not enticing in the day-to-day work, can be quite impactful. So like a… pseudo… diplomatic politician empathetic therapist guy! Who travels around the world and helps people be more compassionate towards each other! You can generate a constant source of food and healthcare doing that, right?

Not knowing what I’ll be doing in a year is a little frustrating, but it’s also a little exciting. There are things I want to do on this trip -- visit my sister in DC, for instance, make it to Europe, then Africa, and meet people along the way. But “make it to Europe” is intentionally rather vague, because while the unknown scares me, the unknown is where the magic happens. The scary and uncomfortable things are often the ones that grow us the most. They are the substance of the stories we’ll tell our kids. My grandfather was a great storyteller, and none of his stories began, “We had planned meticulously…” Most of those stories began with intention, but most were subject to the whims of fate and fancy. Some of his best stories began with no intention at all -- they worn born from the boredom of an idle, sunny Saturday, or a favor from a friend.

On a more concrete note, planning out my life five years in advance seems foolish. The last thing I did for five years was decided for me -- it was grade school:

I will be a different person in five years. I also have a deferral to matriculate to the University of Madison for Psychology in Fall 2018. I don’t have to take it, but it’s there. So it seems sensible to me to bike for a year and then decide if I want to quit. In a year, I’ll likely be in Africa. Maybe I’ll get there and realize bicycle touring is not what I thought it was. At that point, if I decide I want to quit and go to grad school, I’ll be okay with that. Psychology is a way to add value to the world. We can be compassionate wherever we are.

Maybe having that “out” will make me more likely to quit when the time comes. I don’t know. But I think it’s reasonable to say that my opinion about cycle touring will evolve as I do it. I haven’t ever done it for more than three months, 4,032 miles; if I go around the world as suggested, I would do 3-5 years and 20-40,000 miles. Maybe that won’t be as enjoyable. I just won’t know until I do it.

So rather than quotes about goals or being flexible, I think the one that most embodies this trip for me is props to Nike:

Life is short. Make it count.