Cycling from Los Angeles to Cape Town.
In life, we accumulate experiences ... and as we do, somewhere our mind logs them away. Subsequently, in the between moments, a moment waiting to cross an intersection for example, the mind does something spectacular ... it offers our experiences back to us in short films. Often, they're films that reflect an actual event: our mind takes the snippets that it logged away and smooths the rough edges based on previous experience; but more-or-less these are actual events played back to us on the big screen in our brains (for more on this topic consider picking-up a copy of Daniel Gilbert's Stumbling On Happiness, it's fascinating). Alternatively, the same experiences are played back in a way that we never experienced them. In this format, our experiences are the inspiration for a dream.
That's how my goal of reaching 16,000 cycling kilometers (10,000 mi) first arrived, fueled by life, especially months of cycling, directed and produced by my brain; and then, without warning, experienced (debuted) in the form of a day dream on the big screen. Up until the last two weeks, I've honestly tried to suppress this particular day dream. In part, because winter will soon arrive to Hamburg, Germany, where I recently moved (more below). But those efforts, to suppress, were eventually overwhelmed by many repeat screenings. It seems that what the brain wants, it gets, and often it accomplishes this by repeating it's favorite performances. To ride 16,000 kilometers/10,000 miles in 2015 will be my last goal for the year.
Let's have a look at where the dream began, well before the screenplay was even considered. After exactly two weeks off the bike, 3 January 2015 arrived and it was time to reinitiate training one month earlier than I ever had before. A few days later, I was living and training on the Big Island of Hawaii from a base camp in the Village of Pahoa (scroll down and you'll find a blog entry about Hawaii). On my birthday later that month, I rode to the top of Mauna Kea Volcano and then descended back to Hilo, a ride I had imagined many times and so already knew that I would name 'Sea to Summit to Sea'. And there were many other rides and adventures in Hawaii, all on the road bike. By the end of the month, I had accumulated 1627 kilometers (1011 mi) of cycling, a big month for an amateur cyclist with just two seasons of training and racing experience behind him.
The next month, February, another 1630 km (1013 mi), essentially the same as January but over fewer days. After two more months of mostly base training, March 1679 km (1042 mi) and April 1726 km (1173 mi), I was just 1/4 of the way through the year and already at 6822 km (4239 mi). For comparison, at the same time the year before, by 1 May, I was at 3757 km (2335 mi) for the year. My distance had nearly doubled over the same interval.
In May, distance began to decline slightly as intensity increased (speed work, intervals, etc). By June, training settled into more racing, and recovery, and less training., less distance on the bike Still, the kilometers continued to accumulate until eventually, somewhere out on the race course during the Leadville Trail 100, I crossed the 11,200 km (7000 mi) threshold that inspired my mind to, unbeknownst to me, initiate a screenplay and eventually produce a short film that concluded at 1,6000 kilometers (10,000 miles) ... somewhere on Planet Earth ... and likely in Germany.
As of 21 September 2015, I've been living in the city of Hamburg, not far from the River Elbe in Eimsbüttel quarter. After parting in March at Denver International Airport, I've finally re-joined my very patient girlfriend. At her home this time, in Deutschland. Without a visa, I'm allowed to stay for 90 days, that puts me back in Colorado in late December ... but stay tuned, there is much that hasn't been decided and I'm not planning to change that for a while. We will see where life takes me until then and I'll keep the world posted on Facebook and here, on my blog page.
This morning, it's drizzling in Hamburg and the daily forecast predicts the same or worse until tomorrow afternoon. This likely means that I'll remain at 13,173 kilometers (8233 mi) for the year until Samstag (Saturday) morning when I plan to ride a century or more and possibly the same on the Sonntag (Sunday). Thanks to my roommate, I've been very fortunate to ride with a local cycling team, RG Uni Hamburg, and to-date I've ridden with them four times and about 400 kilometers. I've ridden another roughly 300 kilometers on my own. The process of getting to know the area and where I can cycle is well underway. Nonetheless, 'on my own' is sometimes slow going, stopping to check my eTrex 20 GPS every 5-10 kilometers between villages depending on how comfortable my internal compass is feeling. So far, I've gone the wrong way, the right way, the popular way, the seldom used way, and the never considered way. For the latter, picture two tracks, a large tractor, and deep sand, or nothing but a quiet landscape or a group of confused cows, sheep, or horses. I've tried to be as friendly as possible throughout, even greeting the cows in my elementary German, guten morgen mein schatz! Nothing much disturbs them it seems, even my verbal affection.
To ensure my best chance of reaching 16,000 km (10,000 mi) before years-end, I've set a shorter-term goal to reach at least 14,400 km (9000 mi) by the end of October. That's about 51 km (32 mi) per day or 4-5 longish rides each week. Also helpful, the country-side, once I manage to get out of the city (about 30 minutes over streets, side-walks and pedestrian/bike paths), is nearly flat with just a few very modest hills. For example, a ride of over 5 hours last week resulted in only ... 306 meters (1,004 feet) of elevation gain and, according to Strava, some time spent actually below sea-level! Not bad, especially for the off-season when I should probably be resting rather than chasing after a goal that will require me to pedal a distance equivalent to a flight from San Francisco to London and back, a flight from New York to Hawaii and back, a one-way flight from London to Sydney, Australia, or a one-way flight from Los Angeles to Cape Town, South Africa.. If I'm successful then I'll have cycled 40% of the distance around the equator in 2015.
When I consider the next few months and whether I'll reach my goal or not, what I'm often wondering is not success or failure, Instead, I wonder what will my mind do with the knowledge that its body cycled so many kilometers? Even my current 13,173 km (8233 mi) has been enough to get that process, that screenplay, into the writing stage. No doubt, by December, my mind will be debuting a full-feature world tour film. If so, I'm going to need a new bike, possibly a new body, and a sponsor!?
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Adventure Guide, Mentor, Lifestyle Coach, Consultant, Endurance Athlete