Wanderlust - Riding in Circles - CycleBlaze

September 16, 2020


The Why

From an early age I sought out simplicity, adventure, and wanderlust.  I'd rather live in a tent than a house.  I vividly remember laying in a sleeping bag on a bed of dead pine needles with a crisp cool breeze and the smell of smoke from the embers left over from an old fire while staring up at the bright stars contrasted by the moonless dark night time sky.  This is a sight that can't be had in the city. As Steve McQueen once remarked, "I'd rather wake up in the middle of nowhere, than in any U.S. city."   I remember hiking out of a rain storm in the Sierra Mountains of California and coming out into an enormous valley surrounded by 14,000 foot peaks and ridge lines where there before me, overhead, was a double rainbow.  I've walked up to wild ponies in Virginia's Grayson Highlands.  I've come face to face with moose, bear, and other creatures.  I've had 1000's of these special moments.  For the most part, I've chosen experience in my life over possessions.  

Over the past ten years much research has been done that shows that people who buy life experiences are happier than people who buy material goods.  Though amongst Americans it seems there is a misforecast.  Professor of Psychology Ryan Howell puts it, "People think that experiences only provide temporary happiness, but they actually provide both more happiness and more lasting value."  Yet we keep buying 'things' because they are tangible and we think we can keep using them.  Thomas Gilovich, Professor of Psychology at Cornell University, responds to this line of thinking, "That is factually true, but not psychologically true.  We adapt to our material goods."  That's some counter-intuitive food for thought.

When I first thought of the idea of circumnavigating the United States by bike I was overwhelmed by two emotions; wanderlust and doubt.  The thought of seeing countless national parks peaked my curiosity coupled by the reward of knowing that these amazing natural places would be seen powered by me.  I would be the 'beast of burden'.  This was immediately followed by a feeling of doubt.  The entire adventure seemed and still seems so overwhelming.  The idea that I actually could pedal my bicycle 14000 miles is both daunting and exciting.  Am I trained well enough for such an undertaking?  Camping nearly every night and being prepared for most any weather condition and then doubting the gear I am taking again and again can be overwhelming. Do I have the right gear?  Do I have enough money saved?  The list of doubts go on.

Yet, these feelings of doubt has only seemed to focus me over these last several months and has in a strange way increased my feeling of wanderlust and adventure.  

In closing I leave you with a poem called, "The Men that Don't Fit In" by Robert Service.  Much of this poem I relate to.


The Men that Don't Fit In

There's a race of men that don't fit in, A race that can't stay still; So they break the hearts of kith and kin, And they roam the world at will. They range the field and they rove the flood, And they climb the mountain's crest; Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood, And they don't know how to rest.

If they just went straight they might go far; They are strong and brave and true; But they're always tired of the things that are, And they want the strange and new. They say: "Could I find my proper groove, What a deep mark I would make!" So they chop and change, and each fresh move Is only a fresh mistake.

And each forgets, as he strips and runs With a brilliant, fitful pace, It's the steady, quiet, plodding ones Who win in the lifelong race. And each forgets that his youth has fled, Forgets that his prime is past, Till he stands one day, with a hope that's dead, In the glare of the truth at last.

He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance; He has just done things by half. Life's been a jolly good joke on him, And now is the time to laugh. Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost; He was never meant to win; He's a rolling stone, and it's bred in the bone; He's a man who won't fit in.

Robert W. Service

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