Amaurotic Ambition

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Traveling Long Distance on Bicycle

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I almost lost my pants somewhere on farm road 1293 between Thicket, TX and Kountze, TX.  I’m loosing weight measurably but not by any scale.  The locals are calling me the gangster bicyclist because my pants are sliding down to the lower portion of my buttocks!  One thing is certain is that there is much more to bicycling along these Texas routes than weight loss.

When I left Navasota, TX. I was 381.5 miles from St. Francisville, Louisiana.  Today I am just over 270 miles from St. Francisville and just before I reach that goal I will be crossing the Mississippi River.  Readers who have been following my journey may recall my amazing 11 day stay at Checkpoint Harley in Richards, TX with Ernie and Doris, which really has been the highlight of my trip thus far.  There have been other random acts of kindness along the way though.  As I left Shepherd, TX. I stopped for some breakfast at a local restaurant called Happy Days.  I ordered a big breakfast: two eggs, bacon, pancakes, and a side of hash browns.  Everyone inquired about my journey but one man named Clay secretly paid for my breakfast.  The waitress let me know only after Clay had left so I made sure to leave Clay a thank you note.  The waitress assured me that Clay stops by every day for breakfast and she would deliver the note to Clay personally.  There sure a allot of nice folks in this neck of the woods.

There is also an evil dark side that looms around these parts.  I spoke with a sheriff in Cold Springs, TX. who told me that methamphetamine (meth) labs were springing up all over this rural landscape.  During our conversation he mentioned that there are now mobile meth labs that makes it a little more difficult for law enforcement officers to catch these types of criminals.

Bicycling affords everyone a great opportunity to travel long distances on a relatively small budget. Obviously, the majority of people will not dismiss the comfort and convenience of their own automobile for a bicycle, especially when longer distances are involved.  But you may wish to try sometime. What I want to share with you now is how I have continued peddling through some of my own frustrations.  Yes, I have become frustrated along my trip from Kyle, TX. to Kountze, TX. a distance of approximately 269 miles.

My daily routine has me traveling along Texas farm roads that for the most part, requires me to resupply at gas station convenience stores (inconvenient stores).  These stores cost more and have little foods that are actually nutritious.  Select carefully and don’t forget to check the best by date on the package.

The first thing I would recommend for anyone thinking about touring the United States is to start by training.  The first thing I did wrong was train for a designated mileage goal.  In Dallas, TX it is relatively flat when compared to the terrain of the Texas hill country.  Because I failed to reach my daily mileage goal  I became very frustrated right out of the gate.  I discovered that my inner thought processes were beginning to talk to me negatively.  As I began peddling up these steep hills over and over again the negative thoughts became more intense.  I’m calling this phenominen the seven phases that lead to failure:

  1. This is impossible.
  2. I’m an idiot for embarking on this journey.
  3. I’m not in good enough shape or I’m to old.
  4. I should just turn back.
  5. I could get hurt.
  6. It’s hot, it’s to cold, it’s raining. I’m lonely!  Why didn’t I find someone to ride with?
  7. I should just quit.

So anyone embarking on a long distance bicycle trip should train on a variety of terrain.  Is it o.k. to just start bicycling?  I’d have to say yes, but in all honesty you will have to fight off those seven phases that lead to failure along the way.  How have I fought off those phases thus far?  Whether or not I was camping or lodging for one day or several I always managed to listen to the advice from other bikers, adjust my strategies, and get back on my bike peddling.

Here are some things I say to myself and even out loud as a rebuttal to the seven phases that lead to failure:

  • When you think it’s impossible say to yourself, “I can do it!”
  • When you feel that you should never have started your journey remember how excited you were on the first day.
  • When you feel as though you’re not in good shape or to old yell loudly, “I’m getting stronger!”
  • If you start to think about turning back set a take a break or set a new shorter goal.  Remember everyday is another day closer to your goal.
  • If you are worrying about getting hurt take time to make sure you are practicing safe bicycling procedures for own safety and think seriously about your personal safety at all times.  If you get hurt be sure to take action immediately. Don’t let your thoughts convince yourself that you may get hurt.  Think about your safety not just for yourself, but for others too. I learned a long time ago that survival is not based on ones physical ability.  Survival always depends upon ones mental state. You have to believe that you are going to survive no matter what! I will post more on safety later.
  • If the elements or loneliness begin try to convince yourself to quit remember that these conditions are ever-changing.  I stayed two extra days at one of my breaks because it may have rained.  The only thing it did was cause me unnecessary worry and two more days not bicycling.  If loneliness is an issue what I’ve found is to take a lunch break and talk to the guy or gal next to you.  Remember, having a partner poses its own special problems as well, especially if you cannot see eye-to-eye on some of the very basics.
  • I’ve thought about turning back several times for many different reasons. How did I resolve these thoughts? First, I thought about how much I’ve wanted to do this for myself.  The dream!  And I also thought about the people who have been supporting my dream.  For me, these were the ways that I have eliminated the seven phases leading to failure so far.  If you feel that this was not enough read over the prior six phases.  I wish all good luck, good health, and to your own success whatever that may be.

– James J. Pond


Written by James J. Pond

May 8, 2011 at 8:00 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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