Ditto with bicycle touring or any choice of adventure! I mean I could get killed, and people die every summer climbing 14ers in Colorado. Still, I climb. I fear nothing that could happen on the road because I refuse to live in fear. Sure, a car or truck could run me over. They’d have to be half -blind to miss my flapping flags and colors, but it’s possible. But to live life fully, a person must risk or perish into commonality. It’s true that my accomplishments mean only something to me. When I die, all my memories vanish into my ashes. But you better believe that I will carry a big grin on my face into that final eternal adventure. I lived with significant bravery in order to enjoy a noteworthy life—as defined by me alone.
I like wise men and women speaking up about enjoying the guts and gumption to live a vital and vibrant life as they define it: “You're alive. Do something. The directive in life, the moral imperative was so uncomplicated. It could be expressed in single words, not complete sentences. It sounded like this: Look. Listen. Choose. Act.” Barbara Hall (born 1961)
(Two retired folks cycling across the United States.)
In the morning, we cooked oatmeal garnished with raisins, walnuts and banana slices. With a bit of melancholy, I realized that this would be the last day of this adventure. Robert on the other hand, ending his first “big” adventure at 33, would enjoy many more in his lifetime. Not that I don’t possess another 15 or more years of adventuring in my body! By keeping my frame in top condition, it could well serve me like the 78 year old named Bob from Sacramento, California who toured for three years around the world. His wife, Sarah, at 74, inspired everyone who ever rode a bike.
At the same time, adventures for someone my age bring a different perspective from those of young men. An adventure means more when you’re over 60. You treasure each pedal stroke more, each sunset, each meal, each experience and each friend along the way. I cried like a baby when I parted ways with Dave and Gerry. To tell you the truth, I will cry when I part ways with Robert. Such a fine young man!
But for now, I am packing Condor with the meticulous care that makes him and me safe for the ride. I secure all the bungee cords. I place everything correctly in the packs. I check for the screws to be tight on the racks, fenders and Aero Bar, chain to be oiled, spokes to be toned, air pressure and tires to be free of thorns. I check my camera and video. I look back on my camp spot to make sure everything found its way into my panniers. I always zip-up what I un-zip. I close what I open. Riding a bicycle for thousands of miles demands a daily ritual that follows methodical procedures. If you want to arrive at your destination, it’s the little things that count most of all.
“You ready to go?” said Robert.
“Let me fill up my water bottles,” I said.
“Oh, thanks for reminding me,” said Robert, as he grabbed to bottles and headed for the spigot.
(Riding out of the park along the “Going to the Sun Road.”)
Within minutes, we cruised along St. Mary’s Lake heading east out of the park. Looking back, the majesty of the wilderness remained in our minds. We knew where that road led to and we knew what magic it shared for anyone who followed it to Logan’s Pass.
We passed out of the park and onto Route 89 which allowed us a beautiful journey along Lower St. Mary’s Lake. We pedaled along eternal beauty, tranquility and Mother Nature’s finest. A couple of moose greeted us on their morning foraging.
(Moose along the route.)
“Count your lucky stars,” I said to Robert.
“Just clicking away,” he said.
We cut left toward Babb in the mid morning for a 10 mile run to the Canadian Border. I can’t say that I felt overjoyed about ending the ride, but like everything in life, at some point, the day ends, the year ends, the moment subsides and life moves forward. Fortunately, I am already planning another bicycle adventure in 2014. This adventuring gets into your soul. It creates a magnificent passion for living at the spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual edge of your being.
(Robert standing at the Canadian Border with the Canadian flag in the background.)
We pulled hard up a few hills, coasted down the other side and pulled hard up another climb. After an hour or so, we crested a big hill to see a giant complex about two miles ahead. On the other side, we saw Canadian flags flying at the border.
“That’s it,” said Robert.
“Sure is,” I said. “Let’s git ‘er done.”
We pedaled up to the Canadian Border.
“Let’s get some shots to show we made it,” Robert said.
We took several shots, talked to the customs agents and marveled at our journeys. Robert rode his bicycle from the Gulf Coast in Alabama all the way to the Canadian Border. He covered nearly 3,000 miles. It changed him. He helped young children worldwide with his quest for clean water projects. The journey opened up his perspectives.
I pedaled from Juarez, Mexico to the Canadian border for 2,500 miles. I covered five states, 150,000 vertical feet of climbing and 19 passes. Ten of them over the Continental Divide. Condor performed beautifully thanks to my bike mechanic and friend John Rathbone. I met some incredible people on their own journeys. For sure, I saw some remarkable scenery. I took 947 pictures with my digital camera.
(Frosty at the Canadian border with a hand raised in triumph for an incredible journey from Mexico to Canada in the summer of 2013.)
In the next few parts of the series, I will share Gerry, Dave, Robert’s and my reflections of the ride. They might give you some ideas for your own adventures and they might inspire you toward greater awareness at your own possibilities whether you are younger or older. Thank you for the opportunity to share this adventure with you. If you could see the smile on my soul right now, you would be amazed. I feel very blessed, fortunate and I am in awe of the journey, the beauty and the limitless creativity of the natural world.
“I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so which came to me as a seed goes to the next as a blossom and that which came to me as a blossom, goes on as fruit.” Dawna Markova, Writer, Speaker
Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents - from the Arctic to the South Pole - as well as eight times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. In 2010, he cycled 3,400 miles coast to coast across America. In 2012, he bicycled the northern tier coast to coast across America. In 2013, he bicycled 2,500 miles from Mexico to Canada on the Continental Divide, 150,000 vertical feet of climbing and 19 crossing of passes, 10 of the Continental Divide. He presents “The Coming Population Crisis facing America: what to do about it.” www.frostywooldridge.com . His latest book is: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, copies at 1 888 280 7715/ Motivational program: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, click: www.HowToLiveALifeOfAdventure.com
Live well, laugh often, celebrate daily and enjoy the ride,
6 Continent world bicycle traveler
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