(June 30, 2017)
I’ve realized from talking to friends that I haven’t really done a good job of describing what my day to day activities and schedule are like. I thought I’d take this downtime to explain what a day in my life looks like.
I usually wake up for the first time around 6am, probably because of the day light. I then convince myself to go back to sleep and am up by 8am. Within 10 minutes (max) of being up, my body demands that I take care of morning business. If I’ve slept over at somebody’s home then usually the bathroom is part of the offer. But if I’ve slept outdoors, then I have to find a nice patch of wilderness somewhere to take care of things; I try to have this spot picked out before going to sleep the night before so that I don’t have to frantically find a place in the morning, I’ve had some close calls. Once that’s taken care of and my mind is at ease, I begin to pack up all my stuff: clothes, electronics, sleeping bag and tent (if I’ve used them that night, which is actually not too common). Once packed, I have breakfast. If I’ve slept outdoors then this is usually oatmeal and any other snacks I may have left. If I’ve slept over at somebody’s place, I often get offered breakfast–I’m spoiled very often. After that, I begin to plan my route for the day: choosing some goal destinations and studying the route there so as to minimize stopping to look at a map throughout the day. Oh I also make sure to have my gallon of water filled up for the day; this consists of a 750mL water bottle and a 3L camelbak.
Once packed and with a belly full of food, it’s time to say my goodbyes to anyone I may have to say bye to. Goodbyes are interesting; you always feel like you’ve taken a little bit of somebody else into the world and left behind a little of yourself. I then make my way to the closest grocery store (usually no more than an hour away) and stock up on food to snack on throughout the day. I usually buy a loaf of bread, some hummus, fruit (typically bananas and apples), deli items, and granola bars. At first, I was eating quite a bit of meat (if you know me, I’m a huge meat eater), but as time has passed I’ve actually grown to dislike the taste of meat more and more. I’m beginning to enjoy wheats, fruits, and vegetables a lot more. I feel more in touch with my body this way as well, being more aware of what is going into it.
After having stocked up on food for the day, it’s time to really start riding. I’m usually at full speed by 11 am, since waking up, packing up, saying goodbye, and grocery shopping takes up a lot of time. I’ll usually ride non-stop for about 2 hour intervals. Every 2 hours or so, I get massively hungry again and choose a nice spot to stop and eat and fill up water. However, I try to stop as little as possible and have gotten quite good at eating all sorts of food on my bicycle. I’ll often stuff a whole baguette, 10 bars, and bananas and apples in my jersey pockets so I can eat while I ride. I get funny looks from drivers passing by as they see me sitting on my bike with no hands on the handlebars peeling a banana and holding a baguette. I’m seriously considering getting a handlebar bag, though, to maximize my food carrying capacity and so that I can ride shirtless without having to worry about not having the jersey pockets.
Riding is a significant part of the journey. I usually don’t call it a day until about 6 or 7 pm. Most of the time on my bike is spent staring at things that go by–farms, animals, roadkill (I have a section in my journal dedicated to all the roadkill I see–it continues to break my heart), landscapes, signs, my legs, towns, trees, and CLOUDS. I spend so much of my day mesmerized by clouds! Since I was a wee kid I’ve been zoning out for hours looking at the clouds and now I get to do this all day without looking like a total airhead. I often remember places by the awesome clouds it had. Enjoy some pictures of clouds below:
People sometimes ask me if I get bored on my bike. I don’t. I don’t get bored ever. Sometimes what keeps me distracted for hours is the mere sensation of feeling my muscles go. I get into this rhythm and I just keep pumping away until I realize I’m at my next destination. I think that’s why I started cycling in the first place–I love the consistent pain of my muscles and the feeling of pushing myself, and the speed. I especially love climbing hills. It keeps things interesting–the next challenge. Sounds masochistic but . . . well, I won’t excuse myself, maybe it is.
I usually cover about 60 miles/day. However, this varies a lot day by day depending on so many factors: how much food I’ve been eating, how hot it is out, how windy it is, what the road conditions are like, my mood, if I stopped to enjoy a swim or talk to people or take a nap, how widely available water is (which determines whether I carry a full water load or not), elevation change, etc. Once I get back on the road next week though I think I’ll be working towards an average of 80-100 miles/day, my legs want me to and I can’t deny them that.
Determining Where to Sleep
Once I decide that I’m pooped and don’t want to keep going anymore, I stop somewhere and have a meal. Sometimes I have a place to stay planned but most of the time I don’t. When I don’t, I often luck into a place to stay via conversation with strangers, but if not then I just knock on a door and ask to pitch a tent. You can read more about this in a previous post on this site so I won’t say more.
The next thing on my priority list after a day of riding is a shower. If I’m offered a shower, great! If not, sometimes I get access to a hose and so I drench myself with that and use my biodegradable soap. I then wash my clothes and hang it up to dry if possible. Sometimes, however, it doesn’t make sense to shower or wash my clothes, such as if it is raining out and I have to pitch a tent, but this has only happened once or twice.
Actually, what takes priority over the shower is taking care of my bike. Before I shower, I’ll clean my chain and adjust any problems my bike may be having. It’s been holding up really well–I’ve only had one broken chain and one broken bolt on my back rack–things I’ve been able to MacGyver with my tools and supplies.
Having reentered civilization with a shower, I then start winding down and having yet another meal. By this time it’s usually around 9 pm and I’m pretty tired. And if I’m staying with somebody, I want to talk to the person and so this usually keeps me up until I express that it is past my bedtime. I think it’s rude to be taken into someone’s home and be given a shower and then not converse with them, not to mention that it’s also great talking to people, but this can also make it difficult to have time for myself to wind down. Ideally, before going to sleep I’d like to reflect in my journal or message/call people that I want to check in with but I often don’t have time for this and am fast asleep before I know it. This is also why I don’t post often to this blog. Once a week is good enough. It’s hard to find an hour of free time where I can have my laptop out and be connected to wifi.
I often think of posts I want to make in my head as I’m riding but can’t write simultaneously. A lovely friend suggested that I try recording or something of that sort, so maybe you’ll start seeing more vlogging from me in the future.
What I’ve described above has been my typical schedule so far on days that I’m riding, but more and more, especially since Clara and I split, I’ve began to mix things up a lot more. For example, being in Port Stanley now, I’m just going with the flow and hanging with my new buds until it’s time to move on. The next big stop is Ann Arbor where I hope to reconnect with old friends or kindle friendships that never really bloomed. My plan is to make it there averaging about 80-100 miles a day. And then after that I’ll be heading to Chicago, then Milwaukee, then St. Paul/Minneapolis.
My only real deadline is that I hope to make it to the Rockies before they become impassable. Ideally, I will get to Washington state around mid to late August.
What I really enjoy about this lifestyle is how raw it is. I’m living life one day at a time and my concerns are pretty darn basic. I feel very in tune with my mind, my body, and my environment. This is a form of meditation for me.
Much love to all of you reading this. I’m glad I get to share these experiences with all of you and I hope that you won’t hesitate to reach out if you want to connect.