A few months before the Dream trip, I was reading this book for class and stumbled upon a quote that goes like this:
“Transportation by bike means you are riding in, not driving through like a car. You are life-experiencing, not sight-seeing. You are in it and of it, and the beauty goes so deeply inside you that you could weep, and you just never want to get off the bike again.”
The quote is true to a certain extent of what we have been going through during this trip. Biking along endless corn, wheat, and soy fields marked by barns and silos burning against the after-storm-sunset of New Holland, PA and passing the Amish people who so fit to this scenery almost made me tear up. On the other hand, climbing up hills is a different story. We get to cry in pain, anger, and complicated feelings. Although each biker copes with this ordeal in his or her own way, we, from the bottom to the top, experience the emotions on that spectrum.
I would like to share how some of our bikers deal with a hill, from what we talked about as we biked.
- Justin is like a blood donor who looks away from the needle before contact. He knows it’s coming, but also he knows that he cannot turn back because he already signed the form. When I complained before a hill, he yelled “Just don’t look at the top!” I am not sure if that applies to him, but from what I observed he is sort of resigned to the fact that he will climb up the hill anyway. It’s humbling, I suppose.
- Dorothy and Isabel gave me similar responses about downhill, but their coping mechanism for uphill varies. They said that they feel very proud of themselves, looking back on the hill they conquered and thinking "I did that." For the uphill, Dorothy is very optimistic. At the bottom of hill, she talks to herself, “I can do this.” On the other hand, Isabel’s reactions to facing the hill proceed with fear and anxiety which develop into laughter and commitment.
- Jusleen is pretty similar with Dorothy and Isabel. She said she makes exasperated laughs at the ridiculousness of the Pennsylvanian hills and just powers through and conquers them like a champ.
- During a short break in between Martinsburg and Johnstown, Daniel and Alex said that they focus on their breathing and pedaling. Alex looks more at the ground than at the top of the hills. Dan relies on his morale and mental prowess.
This is so far what I observed and discovered our teammates’ strategies on the hills. As the terrain of America changes, maybe I will find our bikers’ different ways to handle different, changing terrains.
Until then, I will be biking along with them, life-experiencing as the anonymous quote noted.