Opportunity is another word for moving on. And it is a word choice, which is often the wiser. If the well gets poisoned, move to a meadow of merriment, where your hearts will echo the more. ― Tom Althouse
This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.
— Alan Watts
The need for certainty is the greatest disease the mind faces. — Robert Greene
“You’re going to be riding your bike today?” The hotel clerk couldn’t help but ask, her mouth slightly open and head cocked to the side. She was nine minutes late opening the front desk. Maybe she was one of the karaoke singers in the bar last night, the bar directly underneath my room. Lullabies hadn’t yet made a comeback in the karaoke world and I regretted that fact as I laid in bed the night before, staring at the ceiling, thinking about how much I needed to sleep.
The next morning, my bike was packed and propped against the wall next to the hotel door. I had already donned my rain gear, backpack, and helmet. I had paced, back and forth. Outside, the sky was a uniform gray. The pacing had continued while I waited for her to show up, glancing at the clock every few seconds. Nine minutes would normally not be an issue for me. Today was different though.
“That’s the plan. I’m starting early so I can try to outrun the rain this afternoon,” I said.
“This afternoon? I think it’s going to start raining any second. That’s how the clouds looked on my way in,” she said, her head cocking further and further.
“Well, it’s the afternoon rain I’m most worried about.”
“You mean the advisory?”
Yes, the advisory. When you spend a great deal of time outside, you have an inflated interest in the weather. Watching the news the night before, hoping to catch a forecast, I learned that Environment Canada had issued a Heavy Rainfall Advisory to southern Alberta and all of British Columbia for the afternoon of my third day.
“Yes, I mean the advisory,” I said while I signed my name and turned over my room key.
“You plan to ride your bike through that? That’s supposed to be a really big storm. You won’t stop before then?”
“I don’t know. I’m just going to see how things go, but I’d like to get ahead of it. I can’t imagine being caught in it would be very fun.”
“Well, good luck. I hope you make it through ok.”
“Thanks, so do I.”
I wheeled my bike through the door, eyelids heavy and my ears still ringing with Bon Jovi, but I felt both poised and determined. The afternoon was a long way off and I aimed to cover as much ground as I could until the rain started to fall.
You can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
— Jim Carrey
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. — Lao Tzu
“What the hell am I doing?”
My legs burned with a week’s worth of laziness and my lungs with the cold morning air. I sat next to my bike in the shadow of the mountains, gravel digging into my legs. Why had I ever considered this?
“I can still bail Nathan. Megan can’t be that far away yet. You have no idea what you’re doing.”
My first bike tour was off to a great start. Twenty minutes earlier, my friend Megan dropped me off at a trailhead at the south end of Banff, Alberta. I had assembled my bike and packed my gear. We asked two mountain bikers to snap a few photos before I set off. Locals. My gear gave away my intentions and my chest swelled when they said neither of them had attempted the route and only knew one guy that had — he hadn’t been able to finish. Riding high on my bike, my chin to the sky, I set off into the mountains where the sun had just touched their tops. I extended my arm and gave a final wave to Megan and the mountain bikers.
Now, 1.6 miles later, instead of riding my bike, I sat next to it trying to assess the damage. I had come around a blind corner and hit a trench carved into the trail by the rain. The impact, paired with my poor pannier packing skills, caused each of the rear plastic pannier clips to snap. I was 1.6 miles in and not sure I could effectively carry my gear. That’s a problem when you’re riding the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, the longest route in the world, following the Continental Divide through two Canadian provinces and five US states, reaching as far south as the Mexican border.
“What the hell am I doing?”
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.
— Anais Nin
One has to abandon altogether the search for security, and reach out to the risk of living with both arms. One has to court doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing. ― Morris L. West