Why am I undertaking such a bizarre journey? Isn’t moving to a city that I’ve never really been to before (I was there once for like six hours) with no money enough? Do I really need to be piling additional difficulties on top of myself?
Yes. The answer is yes.
I hear quite a bit of talk about going out and having experiences because they will give you stories to tell and open your mind, etc. Sure, while it is true that travelling will add to the bank of personal experience and open the mind to a diverse variety of people, places and ideas, I don’t think that’s my reason to leave my bedroom. For me, it doesn’t make sense to throw myself out into the world unless that is the kind of person I want to be (a kind of person who throws their self out into the world).
Experience and diversity of thought is a product of doing stuff, and while it’s a fine motivation to do said stuff, it isn’t my motivation.
I want to take a five hundred mile bike trip because something about the idea gets me excited. Simple as that. I want to do things that get me excited. Literature gets me excited. Education gets me excited. Taking crazy bike trips in 8000 degree heat with 50,000 percent humidity gets me excited.
Sure, there might be some great stories and great experiences that come from it, but I’m looking forward to a sore butt, sunburn, eating terrible dehydrated food, camping with the bugs, catastrophic mechanical failure–the whole thing.
I’ve discovered myself to be a more and more sensual person (hey, I see you over there, quit making that face)–I relish all of the bodily things that happen when I physically exert myself, I relish the nervousness and fear of moving to a new place, of going on an adventure.
Sure, I’ll have stories later, and I’ll likely embellish them 🙂 but I don’t really have an interest in trying to force those stories into existence. I just have to assume that they will happen if I keep doing stuff that I’m excited about.
So enough about that, I’m going to talk a bit more about the route and why I chose it, for anyone who might be trying to figure out my logic.
First of all, if you don’t mind sitting on a train for a million hours, Amtrak seems like the most sensible and cheap way to get somewhere on your bike. As long as they have the baggage service (which is surprisingly limited coming from Montana, as far as I could tell) you can throw your bike on the train for the price of a $10 box, and it doesn’t cost any extra.
I picked this particular route because there is a trail/towpath system basically running all of the way from Cleveland to DC, starting with an assortment outside of Cleveland, then leading into the the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Trail which goes to Georgetown.
It seems nice and safe, won’t have to worry about getting hit by a car for most of it, and there’s quite a bit of cheap/free camping along the way, so hopefully I won’t have to stealth camp all that much. Also, another vain hope is that because I’ll be near rivers much of the time, it won’t be as oppressively hot as I’m expecting.
That’s pretty unlikely.
Because I’m kind of in transition right now, some of my stuff is at my parents’ house, and so I’ll be posting pictures of my bike and all my gear a little later.
I plan on taking it slow, around 60-70 miles a day, taking time to enjoy the scenery and take plenty of shady rest stops. This blog will become the place where my print journal entries will form into digital journal entries (duh), which will be posted whenever I manage to find a spot with wi-fi, which might result in several days being posted at once, as I don’t know what the time between spots is going to look like.
Here’s to super fun adventures!