Back in 2008 I was living in Austin, TX and I was of course one of the cool kids that rode a fixed gear bike around town, doing track stands at lights, splitting traffic lanes during rush hour, and enjoying the freedom that cycling brought. I recall sitting in the office for the Social Work Council at the University of Texas, killing time before a meeting. I was still learning about cycling and browsing what seemed liked crazy things people were doing on bikes. Somehow I came across the Adventure Cycling Association website and was introduced to bicycle touring. After reading about the TransAmerica Trail I knew I would ride it one day.
At this time I had never ridden more than maybe 20 miles. I had never camped. I was so intimidated by the fear that I kept putting it off. Waiting for “the perfect time”. I gained more experience cycling through the years. Learned some bike maintenance skills and how to navigate traffic safely. I rode my fixed gear bike from Austin to San Antonio, about an 85 mile ride, to see if I could do it. I could and have done that ride 3 times now. But still, I didn’t do the bike tour.
I got a job out of college and ended up focusing on my career. That didn’t last long since the agency had to lay off staff about a year later. So then thinking about my graduate degree seemed like the right move, and I thought I wanted to go to school at the University of Chicago. I moved there to get a feel for the city. Chicago was not for me. AT ALL. And I decided the time still wasn’t right for grad school. This resulted in me taking a three month NOLS course to escape city life. NOLS was also my first experience camping. It was a tough three months, but one of the best times in my life by far. But once it was all over, I didn’t know what to do next.
After being unemployed for about six months, I finally found a job in Denver and met Stephanie. Denver has been a great place for me and I feel like I have grown here. A lot of that growth can be attributed to Stephanie. When I moved to Denver, it had been about five years after I graduated from UT. Stephanie gently encouraged me to apply to grad school after I expressed an interest in advancing my career, and I decided that the time was finally right. While it has been a tough year and there are still many unknowns about future career paths, I am glad I have advanced my education and begun opening doors.
Grad school was tough on me for sure. Lots of paper writing and group projects. Less time exercising and spending outdoors. I told Steph about my tour dreams previously and she had expressed some interest, but it was during grad school that she began giving me a nudge to go on tour after graduating, and she wanted to go as well. The time was finally right.
I don’t know how this tour is going to go. I don’t know how much we are going to be challenged physically or emotionally. I hope we have fun. I hope we meet amazing people along the way. I hope we see amazing views. I know I wouldn’t have accomplished all the things I have these past two years without Stephanie, so I am extremely excited to go on this journey with her. I could have maybe done this trip earlier in my life, but I was looking for the signs, or cairns, to let me know I was on the right path. It just feels right.