Even when I finally saw the ocean, I still didn’t stop. I had no traction in the sand, so I pulled the bike by its handlebars to a rocky outcropping at the land’s brink. I hoisted the bike up over my shoulder and climbed from rock-to-rock as far as I could go, skirting the edge of that ancient and crashing blue abyss. My human-powered trans-American odyssey was complete. At this beach, where the ground ends, I had no more continent left to travel.
I left comfort and security at home, and traveled 3,000 miles to a place where I had to be hardy and vigilant. A place where I had to be completely in touch with myself, both mentally and physically. A place of cowboys and Indians, inseparable biking brothers and lone wanderers. It was the ultimate test: a two-month gauntlet of physical exertion and mind-numbing repetition. Before the end of it, I had to confront death in the face of my own survival. I had to follow the ghosts of the past and the crimes of the present. Amidst a rural America that is shriveling up and dying, I found warm courage and hospitality. After all this, I have no regrets.
I found a better place, and traveled there by bicycle. I left comfort and security at home, and re-discovered it on the road. My new lifestyle of travel and adventure won’t stop here. It can’t. I found things I need to do, places I need to go and people I need to meet. Things I need to do and things I need to be.
Readers: run away! If you are the slightest bit unsatisfied with your life, leave it. I urge you to. I didn’t know how badly I needed to get away from the humdrums of routine until I reached the halfway point in Texas.
For some reason, society expects people to obsessively cling to fabricated social constructions that only make life worse. Things like fear, egotism, cynicism, guilt and regret. Even passion and attachment, even race and gender. After spending 30 days alone focusing on one goal, you learn to let go of all of that and find out which parts of your head are truly the important ones. Unconditional love for others and a healthy respect for life are all one needs to be happy, really. That, and a project to keep you busy.
I laughed, I cried and I lost 15 pounds. I bicycled 3,000 miles across an entire continent, against the wind and through the desert. I had my bike stolen and spent days lying in bed sick. I had my finger stung and paralyzed, I had my skin peeling away from sunburn. I faced off with alligators, coyotes, javelinas and pitbulls. After all this, I finally found my better place.