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6 Lessons Learned from the Road

Aug 6th, 2017

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6 Lessons Learned from the Road

6 Lessons Learned from the Road
The Big Horned Sheep – so lifelike!
Doug and I are back from our first leg of our cross-country bicycle journey and I wanted to share a few “lessons” from the road. This grand adventure across the United States was many years in the making and it feels so great to have made our start.  Each summer we will ride our bikes for 3-4 weeks on the next leg of the journey, until we reach Key West, FL.
On this first leg, we rode 1,043 miles in 22 days, from drizzly wet Bellingham to hot and dry Great Falls, Montana. During that time we had:
  • 0 Flats
  • 0 Mechanical issues
  • 1 Day poor health (Doug’s bad-belly)
  • 1 Bee Sting (Bee flew down the front of Doug’s shirt while riding)
  • 1 Brown Bear (near Rockport, WA – sad, no other big wildlife)
  • 1 Missing bike glove: I’m pretty sure a squirrel made off with it at The Cobb House at Lake McDonald (lesson learned – always attach your gloves to your helmet, always attach your helmet to your bike)
  • 2 Days of Rain (leaving Bham, of course)
  • 2 Days of NASTY headwind
  • 3 Days of REST (Riverside, WA;  Sandpoint, ID; Lake McDonald, MO)
  • 4 Knees that worked just fine for the whole trip (minus a few grumbles here and there)
  • 9 Nights in Motels (Duck’s Brand in Winthrop, The Honeymoon suite with the red heart-shaped bathtub at the Prospector Inn  in Republic, WA; cute K2 Motel with fresh baked muffins in Sandpoint ID, Stump Town Hotel in Whitefish MO, Lake McDonald Lodge “the Cobb House” in Glacier National Park, MO, super new and cute Buffalo Wallow Motel in Depuyer, MO, and our final night in White Sulphur Hot Springs.)
  • 13 Nights of camping in our lovely “portable home” (tent)
We rode along Lake Koocanusa all day long from Libby dam to Eureka, MO

Doug and I had our own “bicycle” language and could tell when the other one needed support. We rotated who was in front “pulling.” The person in back would call out when a car, truck, or “Big Rig” was coming and the person in front would nod their head once in confirmation that they heard.

The person in front called out any road hazards like rocks, holes, or roadkill. Sometimes we were chatty while riding; other times we rode silently, enjoying the beauty around us and letting our minds wander.

Here are my TOP 6 LESSONS from the Road:
  1. My husband is STILL my best friend. We loved all that time together (ahem – 24/7 for 3+ weeks). It was fun working as a team, depending on each other, sharing the experience.  Riding bikes was the added benefit and a wonderful way to celebrate our 29th anniversary.
  2. Everyone has a story to tell – take time to ask and listen. Part of the journey was hearing the stories from the people we met and was the most delightful part of our trip. We heard about their lives, their travels, their work, their worries and their joys.
  3. I can still do it: dig deep when the time came, give support when it was needed, crawl out of a tent with some grace. It is good to push yourself sometimes to remind yourself that you ARE capable.
  4. America and Americans are beautiful: Seeing a beautiful part of our country, reviving my belief that Americans are inherently good and hard workers- even though we may have vastly different political viewpoints.
  5. Exploring is exhilarating:  Riding my bike to somewhere I’ve never been is a thrill! Being under your own power, with all the things you need to be self-sufficient (well, as long as we could buy food and find a water source) is liberating.
  6. Being timeless is priceless.  I only looked at the clock to note the time we started and ended our ride each day.  Otherwise the sun was our guide and we had no need to track time.
Here’s an idea for you – take a weekend and pick any one of those 6 Lessons – and do it over the weekend – spend it with someone you love, ask people about their stories, DO something that is a challenge, go somewhere you’ve never been, and don’t look at a clock for the entire weekend!

Next year? We’ve decided that we don’t have to ride every mile from here to Key West and that since this is our “vacation” (and it’s supposed to be fun), we can skip some of the really bad roads.

So next year, instead of going back to Great Falls and heading south to Yellowstone, we are thinking of starting in Jackson, WY in the Grand Tetons and heading north to Yellowstone. Then we’ll head east through Wyoming toward Mt. Rushmore (near Grand Rapid City, South Dakota). Then through the Badlands? We’ll see just have to see about that.

As always, it is great to be home in the most beautiful place on earth,

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