Sunday, June 29, 2014

four lessons i learned about life while bicycling 1,973 miles from canada to mexico.

it's been over a week since completing our bike tour along the pacific coast. these are four leasons i've learned about life during 40 days of cycling: 

1. you get to define your own journey. 

my husband and i didn't plan on riding our bicycles for 40 days when we decided to take a year off to create a pause in our busy lives. we had imagined road tripping around the usa in our big ole ford expedition, nomadically driving our way from this place to that place. a bike tour never even crossed my mind. 

but the tour came about because i noticed that the seed planted years ago about doing an extended bike tour, had bloomed. it was time to pick it, so we did. we seized an opportunity to say "YESYESYES!"

i can easily say that this tour has forever marked my life. it's the craziest thing i've done to date, and yet somehow it was incredibly grounding. i think when we choose to live on the outer edge of our comfort, we experience clarity of self. this, this is freeing. 

our canada to mexico tour reinforced my belief that all of us get to create our lives, we get to live an epic story. we get to choose everyday the journey we want to define our lives.

2. you can never predict what'll happen next.

we had this book called "bicycling the pacific coast" (aka: the bible) guiding us through every day of this trip. it mapped how many miles to cycle, the difficulty, step-by-step turns, and descriptions of each segment. every night, we would read the next day's journey to help us prepare. 

as helpful as this book was, i hated it at times. it gave us just enough information to get us predicting what the next day would hold. bad mistake.

each and every day held their own surprises, challenges, and joys we could never have predicted. our "easy" days would be filled with surprising challenges like intense headwind and a "difficult" day might not turn out to be as hard as we expected. we were always surprised.

i learned over time that i had to approach each day, each moment with an open posture because literally anything could happen. and what turned out to be the case was that i would have a good day if i stayed open and accepting of everything that came our way, instead of resisting (aka: complaining) about what was not written in my book of predictions. 

imagine if each day was approached with openness to exactly what is, not what it ought to be. how much more joy and ease would we experience? 

3. you can conquer every gnarly hill.

some of the hills we had to climb were nuts (e.g. 4 miles at 7% grade up a windy two-lane shoulder-less highway). many times, we'd be coming down one hill only to see another monster one ahead. at first, all i could think was, "oh my lord!" and then brace myself for some major quad burning. over time, however, i realized the hills were never as bad as they looked from where i was. from afar, the hills always looked enormous. my perspective made it look that way. but it wasn't until i got up close that i could get an accurate sense of the challenge ahead. and then, i would simply put one foot in front of the next and pedal my way all the way to an amazing vista (profusely sweating and all)! sometimes, i would have to look at the road right in front of me or only 10 feet ahead so i wouldn't get overwhelmed by how much more i had to go. and you know what? i made it up every gnarly hill every single time, whether i could tackle it without stopping, had to be on my granniest gear, or took several breaks along the way. i made it each time. 

i have this tendency to get overwhelmed with fear about how HUGE something seems from my point of view. i'm afraid to even get near my story of fear. it's more comfortable to stand back and say, "it's too hard. it's too big. i can't do it... maybe i'll catch up on some shows," instead of getting up close and personal with my "hill" and see what it's really made of. 

right now, i've been dragging my feet  with a personal passion project because it seems so overwhelmingly big. i have a gift to see the big picture and to see what something could be, but i can also get paralyzed there. 

i've learned that even when a task at hand seems overwhelmingly unconquerable, the way i'll conquer it is to see a project for what it really is and then take one small step at a time. that is the only way i can climb my gnarly hills. (there ain't no escalators on the road.)

4. make unforgettable memories. 

the monk who helped us get up the last incredibly steep mile to camaldoli heritage said, "you'll never forget this," regarding our journey. i wrote about it on day 33, but i want to come back to this again because it has left such a strong impression on my mind and heart.

one day, if i am ever 80 years old scanning my history, i believe this specific journey will stand out like dolphin jumping in the ocean. i imagine i'll be taken to a special place of awe, inspiration, and fondness. i will not forget this trip: the time my beloved and i biked 1,973 miles from canada to mexico.

i want to live a life creating unforgettable memories that shape my life and the lives of those around me. memories that remind me of a life well-lived, a life well-learned.


  1. such good lessons, and i know i say this all the time, but you (and your husband) inspire me! sometimes i get so busy and forget to make the most of today, of right now... you're right. i want to live a life like that too.

    1. thank you so much grace! let's live unforgettable lives! XO


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