September 19 marked the 35th anniversary of my return home from the longest bicycle tour I ever undertook, gone nearly five months. Over 5,200 miles. 22 states and two Canadian provinces. Lots of stories to tell! Here’s one:
While doing laundry in a small Illinois town, I went to a nearby café for lunch while my clothes washed. I ate at every opportunity, trying to replenish the thousands of calories a day I was burning. Sitting at the counter, I got to talking with a man on his lunch break from work. Upon finding out I was biking cross-country, heading to Boston, he laughed and said, intending humor, “That’s what trains and planes are for!”
As I rode away from his town, I thought about what he said. On one trip, I rode to California. Ten days on the road. I filled a journal and shot five rolls of film. I had ridden to a music festival, and met up with some friends from Portland. By previous arrangement, I rode back to Portland with them. A van up I-5, home in two days. I wrote a few entries in my journal and took zero photos.
An hour or so into my afternoon, I finally articulated my response to the man in the café: Boston was my destination. The journey was my goal.