The past couple of days we’ve been rolling over the bluffs of Wisconsin and Minnesota, right around the Mississippi River.
The landscape has been a beautiful medley of marshes, cliffs, old growth forests, lakes, and some opportunistically placed cornfields. While this geography may have been the most beautiful I’ve seen so far, it has also been the most physically taxing to bike since the mountains of Pennsylvania.
At first I found myself struggling trying to appreciate the beauty of the landscape while at the same time huffing and puffing against the brutal topography. Over the past couple of days, I’ve come to understand a few things about balancing the two.
The first is that I have absolutely no control over the road. When I hope for downhill, when I dread uphill, and when I anxiously will against nature that a curve will appear in a long straight stretch, I stop paying attention to the beauty around me, I slow down, and I struggle more. All I can do is take whatever road is there, pedal through it, and keep my head up. The second thing I’ve learned is that the most powerful things I can do is breathe. When I’m focusing on breathing deeply and consistently, I’m not thinking about my sore legs, my sun burn, my bug bites, my wet socks, or my desire to be anywhere else. I’m right there, pedaling hard and seeing what’s around me.
The third thing that’s become apparent to me is that no matter what the scenery is, I can choose to be grateful for my surroundings and enjoy them. It’s easy to be grateful for the swamps, streams, and sheer rock faces rising up around me. But I can find sights and moments to be grateful for in parking lots, strip malls, and gravel roads.
No matter where I am on this journey, I’m always surrounded by great people doing great things, and I couldn’t be happier.
I hope you’re all doing well back home, wherever that may be. We’re having a great time on the road.