Where to begin?
It’s day 26, I’m in Minneapolis and I’m slightly ashamed to say I have not yet written a blog post and now I don’t know where to begin.
But, perhaps, sharing the chronologically confused jumble of memories and emotions of the past 1,500+ miles of biking is a valid way to start.
See, I have not been nearly as disciplined as my teammates who journal the days’ events or regularly update their social media. Instead, I get to some generous person’s home or church in the evening, my brain promptly disengages, seeks calories and sends me into a deep sleep.
From approximately 7 am to 6 pm while I’m sitting on my bike and enjoying rest stops, however, my mind is very awake. I never feel so present as when sitting on my bike seat, and not just because my seat constantly reminds me exactly what I’m doing to it.
Many of us know that nothing quite clears the mind like exercise. When I get to a rough hill all I can think is 1, 2, 3, 4… 1, 2, 3, 4… as I force my legs down repeatedly. When I’m biking through cornfields and wind for so long that it feels like I’m on a sadistic treadmill to more cornfields, the monotony drains out all coherent thought. There’s some meditative magic to doing this for so long every day - you don’t have the energy to be anywhere but precisely where you are.
There’s also the reality that a bike is a very exposed mode of transportation. The wind, the sun, the rain, the lack of buildings for miles - there is no shelter. But that means I can see the enthusiasm of people who waive at us in support, I can feel the flowers that brush my legs on the side of the road, and I can hear the music on people’s car radios. At 15 miles an hour of total exposure it really feels like we are taking America in.
Not being able to think about anything but the incline and shoulder width leaves a lot of room for true appreciation. People can be so kind. Strangers cook us dinner, assemble their neighbors to house us, hand us donations on the side of the road, and share words of support. And despite our exhaustion and literal fallen trees and flooded roads in our path, my teammates have been nothing but encouraging to one another and eager to help in return.
Although we are cycling to raise awareness about food insecurity, it becomes clear how plentiful our country is of good people and resources, and how we can share those things with a little work.
So, while the specific stories of our trip and musings about our cause will come in subsequent posts I share the idea that even when we don’t know where to begin, we can start by opening ourselves up and just taking it all in.