Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Get out of hail free card

I have no regrets thus far that I have undertaken this journey. There has, however, been some inner turmoil about the decision to alter my original plan of cycling completely around the country. I'm still biking most of it, but as Ollie and I discovered ourselves in the midst of an impending midwestern winter, with snow already falling in the next three states we were slated to cycle across, I think we're okay with the decision a few weeks ago to consider my friend Paige's offer of a "get out of jail free card" in the form Amtrak reward miles for a ticket to warmer climes. (God bless Paige.) Tonight we boarded the Empire Builder out of Minneapolis....

Around the time Ollie and I landed ourselves in Milwaukee, we were still on schedule to get all the way -- or within a couple hundred miles, anyway (those Rockies were still keeping me up at night) -- to the West Coast by around Halloween. I have, however, found myself somewhat behind schedule since then. (What is time anyway but a human construct, right? That's what I thought until it snowed in Des Moines before Columbus Day.) First I met Julie on the bike trail while making my way to the Growing Power headquarters, who along with Martha convinced me to stay in town for a few days (rather than just the afternoon, as I had planned) to explore the growing food scene. Then Madison swept me off of my feet nearly a week and a half longer than the anticipated five days. (It wasn't just because the hip college town provided me with my first opportunity to hear Michael Pollan speak, but that did encourage more lingering than usual.) Then I rerouted and spent nearly a month in Iowa, which was a state not even included in my original plan, but I'm glad I did. And... and....

I'm okay with it. It's not like I need to bike every inch of the trip. Early on, I had made the decision that I would compromise the biking-only element of the project in situations where I could hitch a ride with folks already going in my direction or if I was really stuck in baaaad weather and was a reasonable drive for friends to come retrieve me. I still have logged many days in weather that, were I not doing what I'm doing, would induce me to stay indoors altogether, stay in my pajamas, perhaps not even open the front door to check the mailbox. (Ah. I remember having a mailbox.) But I also determined before setting out that learning opportunities at outstanding farms and interacting with inspiring people would always trump the biking. (I do love the biking, even so.)

In the end, as I gaze out at the Minnesota landscape zooming past in the dark, the decision to take the train to Seattle and pick up as planned once I hit the coast is one I am at peace with. I just won't get my gold star from the cycling community.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


  1. You made a sensible choice. Love reading your blog entries whether you're biking or not (I do like the biking posts though! ;^)

    You're off the hook.

    Sean (a self-appointed representative of the cycling community)

  2. so glad the train worked out! :) btw, can i preorder a copy of your book? finally was able to get back on blogspot today and am loving the new posts.


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