why would i want to ride my bike, all alone through the most remote places in the country, for 40-plus miles a day for two-and-a-half months straight? i dont know. just sounds like fun.
maybe it was the disenchantment with my current job, or more accurately, the disenchantment with the entire concept of a 'job'. get up every morning, go to work, work a ridiculous number of hours, only to come home, get a bit of sleep, and do it all again the next day. every day. for the next 30 years. is that all i had to look forward to?
so i started to daydream about what it was that i would do with my time if i no longer had the restrictions of a job to dictate my days. i spent my time staring out the window and longing to be outdoors. my usual aimless web surfing was more and more often leading me to sites with vivid descriptions of epic adventures and tales of people who had 'lived their dream'.
then one day, while surfing the GORP site and longing for an adventure of my own, i got started reading a thread about 'bikepacking' - a combination of mountain biking, backpacking, and backwoods camping. i started reading the journals of people who had gone on multi-day and even week-long trips, with nothing more than what they could carry on their bike. the solitude and minimalism of backwoods hiking definitely appealed to me, but when combined with my favorite pasttime (mountain biking), i knew i was on to something.
i had always heard of (and even known a couple of) people who hiked the pacific crest trail along the length of the west coast. but on a bike, with the ability to cover so much more ground as opposed to hiking, i started envisioning all of the remote places i could go. as i continued to read more and more about the topic, i stumbled upon one account in particular.
it was an excerpt from some journal entries written by erin garvin, the first girl to ride the entire great divide trail, in the summer of 1998 (here is the link to that article - the entire account of her journey can be found here). as i read her accounts of the ever changing weather and the trail conditions and the places and terrain her and her group were encountering, i found myself transfixed. i searched the web high and low for any more references to erin's ride and the great divide trail in general. before i knew it, i had spent the better part of an entire day reading and researching everything i could about the trail (it turns out that the trail is the work of the adventure cycling association).
that night, i could hardly sleep. all i could do was think about riding the divide. visions of pristine mountain lakes and dark forest trails raced through my mind. i spent most of the next day scouring the internet for more information. i eventually found a link to the book that erin wrote after completing her ride. when i got it in the mail, i read it cover to cover as fast as i could. it only made me more sure that this was something i wanted to do.
when i returned to work, i had a new outlook. now i was looking forward to something. i immediately put up a 'countdown' on my whiteboard, counting down the days until i would start my ride (based on several factors, the most important of which was the weather window, i determined that i would start my ride on august 1st, 2005). i drew a map on my board indicating my planned route of travel. people began asking what it was all about, and when i told them, i think they took it with a grain of salt, not sure if i was serious or just exuberant.
the day i started that countdown, i had nearly 500 days until the ride was to start. over that time, i have (*i think*) convinced those same people that i am not only serious, but dead set on doing this ride. most are very supportive, even though more than a few admit that they dont understand why i would want to do something like this. some think it is foolish, but that is their prerogative. i have realized that everyone has something different that makes them tick. some people want to settle down and have a family; some want to make a lot of money or advance their career. me, i just want to pedal my bike through the woods for a few months.
just sounds like fun.