The Speed of Life - Four Legs on the Slow Road - CycleBlaze

May 22, 2015

The Speed of Life

It's been almost three months since we reached the West Coast of Australia, wheeled our bikes into the hot sand, and let the warm blue waters of the the Indian Ocean wash over our toes and feet and ankles. If you'd asked me back then if three months would be enough time to reflect on everything that we experienced in the 6,613 miles that brought us there, I would have given you a confident yes.

When I returned home after riding across America in 2011, it didn't take more than a couple of weeks for the competing feelings of fulfillment and loss to start washing over me. For as much as I felt fulfilled by what I'd accomplished, there was an equal sense of loss that came from knowing that most free and interesting period of my life had come to an end without something more compelling to replace it. At the end of my failed cross-country ride in 2013, both of those things took a back seat to a dozen different flavors of disappointment. In both cases, the fact that I had so much idle time to think about all that I'd done provided the chance to come up with some kind of thesis about what it meant to me and how I'd been reshaped as a person.

But thanks to a life that has continued to charge forward at a furious pace, I haven't yet had enough mental space to process what it was like to cycle the West Coast of America, then New Zealand, and then Australia with my best friend beside me every mile of the way. In addition to meeting new babies and reuniting with the greatest dog the world has ever known, the past few months have seen a pair of trips to both Seattle and Portland, untold numbers of meals and beers and glasses of wine with friends and family, hockey and baseball games, movies and rock shows, and more Game of Thrones than it's healthy for a single person to watch. Kristen and I have also gone urban hiking in Los Angeles, taken Walter for an untold number of walks and dog park trips, traveled to Washington's San Juan Islands for a long camping trip in my van, and followed it up with a road trip from Seattle back to L.A. I've celebrated birthdays; I've learned how to swim; I've bought and set up a new touring bicycle; I've reveled in the joy of receiving so many words of encouragement and appreciation from the readers of this journal; I even cooked for myself once. Life has simply been too full of the good people and good feelings that have continued to remind us why we came back in the first place. And all of this good stuff has had to fight for space between the less exciting but time-consuming matters of catching up on work for current business clients, landing work from new clients, and doing all of the writing and editing needed to finish this journal.

It means that I can't yet put a bow on this trip. I can't wrap it up in some ordered way. I can't make proper sense of how vast and wonderful and maddening it all was. And I imagine I won't get to that point until some time this fall or winter, when I've had the chance to slow down, to settle in the same place for a few weeks or a few months. It seems like only then will I have the ability to spend time alone with my thoughts, without the steady flow of wonderful distractions that have spoken for most of the spring.

It's going to take that long for the lull to find me because we can't stop moving. One of the few things I know for sure after our last six-month stretch on the road is that the challenge and novelty and beauty of experiencing the world from the seat of a bicycle continue to leave me more happy and fulfilled than just about anything else in life. They make me feel alive in ways that nothing else can. I also know how lucky I am to still have the health, the desire, the money, and the time to travel this way. And I understand that any of these things can be taken away in an instant, never to return again. That's why we're going to continue to point ourselves down the path of adventure as often as we can before the variables of our lives have an opportunity to rearrange themselves. To settle for anything less would forever leave us wondering what if?

The next journey starts in less than two weeks.

Until then.

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