An undertaking as huge and complicated as a three-month, cross-country cycling trip involves dozens (perhaps hundreds!) of people. This gratitude list could go on for pages, and narrowing it down to just a dozen sections was one of the most difficult things I attempted on my trip! I am grateful for everybody in my life who supported me, every person I met along the way, and the experiences and learnings I gathered over the past few months.
A bucket list item, physical challenge, and opportunity to see parts of America previously unfamiliar to me, this trip has been more fulfilling and perspective-shifting than I could ever have imagined before setting out. It’s been a couple months since I dipped my wheels in the Atlantic, and I want to take a few moments to share what I’m so grateful for.
I am incredibly grateful for Patty, my soulmate and wisest counselor. She turned this summer, which for her could have been about tagging along (a big demon for her), into a wonderful shared adventure, with both of us on parallel, mutually wonderful paths.
Patty once created a show for Newton Open Studios centered on interpretations of “home.” For me, “home” is wherever Patty is.
I get the credit because I’m the guy who pedaled a lot. But without Patty’s love, help, and care, without her willingness to stop everything she was doing to make this work, without her commitment to overcoming her own triggers and fears (as real as my fear of heights!), and without her support, this would have been a very different experience.
I loved feeling that my body is strong and healthy—that my 62-year-old body could cycle nearly 4,000 miles was an amazing realization. All of my training was “on the job,” making the first few weeks quite challenging. After getting into shape and a daily routine, pedaling barely felt like work.
The friends who joined me on my journey
I’m really grateful that my friends and family see and accept me as I really am. Intimacy is all about ‘in-to-me-see’. We may be different, but there is understanding and acceptance and mutual love.
Special thanks to:
Chris—who crossed the Continental Divide with me, and patiently dealt with me as I dealt with my fears.
Michael—who flew over 10,000 miles in an effort to cycle with me as much as possible.
Adam—who humbled me with his energy, and was still faster than me after I had gone across the US.
Bob—for moral support and joining me the last day of cycling.
For supporting me in my craziness and providing me perspective. When we got together in Minneapolis I saw myself through their eyes—they had never seen me happier and content, not trying to contextualize my experience in terms of accomplishment, even after going over halfway across the United States.
They have watched me their whole lives and offer me great wisdom and insights.
Special gratitude for joining me my final day (Alex and Ben), and helping me with my writing and editing throughout the summer (Katie).
For embracing such a massive undertaking and facing my fears. At the outset I was afraid of bridges, crosswinds, steep downhills, and trucks—all related to a fear of heights. Instead of letting this control me or negatively influence of my trip, the process of overcoming fear became a huge gift: I jumped out of an airplane and truly internalized how much I and all of us live in the stories we make up and tell ourselves.
For making the logistics and sharing of this trip possible.
Caleb—who created my online presence, processing thousands of images, helping me share my experience.
Julie—who helped figure out the route, made and often changed over 100 nights of accommodations and befriended innkeepers across America.
Elaine and Ann—who kept home and office running flawlessly in my absence and sent me supplies that kept me fed and healthy.
The people who helped me along the way
I was fortunate to meet many people along the way whose help and company formed my experience.
Many bicycle shops and repair people across the country prioritized the needs of this cross-country rider to do quick tune-ups and part replacements.
I’m grateful to all the people who carried my gear each day, from front desk clerks to diner waitresses, the many strangers who pulled over to offer directions, recommendations, and advice, and everyone who shared their lives, stories and gracious hospitality.
To so many friends for offering practical advice, for accepting me, and for appreciating me for the person I am.
For pointing out how rare it is for a person (me) to see something I want to do, and then figure out how to actually do it. Thank you for the perspective!
And for Hilary, Luana, and Steve—all of whom gave me tremendously wise advice as I faced my fears.
My iPhone kept me connected to everybody, enabled me to have long conversations with family and friends and was a great camera. Siri enabled me to journal while riding, helping me memorialize, process, and share my experiences.
My Garmin GPS and Google Maps kept me “on track” throughout nearly 4,000 miles of cycling.
Amazon through which I ordered hundreds of Kind Bars and Justin’s Nut Butter, keeping me energized and fed (on something other than hamburgers!).
I must confess that I sometimes felt conflicted about the balance between documenting vs. experiencing. I do wonder: what would my experience have been like if I was truly disconnected?
I’m grateful to have eventually found my balance, which for this trip meant going lighter on tech than my “normal” life.
Solitude and my spirit
Before starting out, I expected this trip to be a “doing activity” centered on the physical day-to-day and my work with kNOw THEM—completely driven by the end goal. Instead, I was able to reboot early on and repurpose my trip to be a spiritual voyage, and also to avoid FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).
I was able to spend time with myself, more unfettered by work, causes, calls, people, and responsibilities than I have ever been in my life. It was a summer with a very limited “agenda.” As Patty said, “you are the only person I know who has to cycle 4,000 miles in order to do nothing.”
I initially was concerned that solitude would result in loneliness. Instead, this intense time with myself led to all sorts of realizations and spiritual awakenings. The solitude and the moving meditation transformed the trip into a deeply spiritual journey.
I spent the entire trip in spectacular scenery: passing the Columbia River Gorge, traversing the Rockies as well as cycling through 10,000 Lakes in Minnesota and alongside the Erie Canal. The Great Plains are sometimes disparagingly referred to as the middle of nowhere, but are in fact beautiful. I experienced all sorts of wildlife from moose and foxes to snakes, and lots of amazing birds . I even avoided mosquitoes!
I was incredibly fortunate to travel 4,000 miles with no accidents or incidents. In three months of cycling, I had no major mishaps, and only one flat tire (that my friend Michael promptly fixed).
Over three months of cycling, only three days saw any precipitation, and only one of those was really “rainy”. There were many hot days (to be expected for the time of year), but cycling creates its own breezes that balanced out higher temperatures.
I also mostly had tailwinds, which are incredibly important while cycling.
Notwithstanding my bright bike lights and colorful jersey, ultimately I know that it was luck that kept me from having any accidents.