Right now it’s Day 27. I’m at my friend Grace’s house in Hannibal, MO. Over the past few days I’ve been thinking, and I’ve reached a conclusion. The tour ends here. I will fly home after the weekend, from St Louis.
I’ve had a lot of fun so far, but I cannot continue. Of course I have excuses, like “I’m only a third of the way across and yet halfway through my leave time”, or “I’d have to shuffle some savings around in order to not starve”, but those can’t get in the way of the real decision. There are also elements of this lifestyle I don’t enjoy, which similarly should not get in the way of decision-making. The physical discomfort of riding all day is the greatest of these.
The real reason is that it isn’t fun any more. I knew from the beginning that riding all day would be a different lifestyle, and I don’t mind the new routine (once I figured it out). I also knew this tour would happen in two halves. The first half was all about visiting family and friends, the second about following the Lewis and Clark trail.
I realized at some point, maybe near Boston or DC, that the First Half would always be about destinations. It would be “get up, be sad to leave, push hard, be happy to arrive, take a day off”. While there were pieces of the journey that were enjoyable–the C&O Towpath and Great Allegheny Passage, Amish country, the Atlantic ocean–my attitude was largely affected by the destination. I hoped that this would change upon reaching St Louis, and to that end I made a deal with myself in Pittsburgh.
If I could start enjoying the journey more during the 8 or 9 days it would take me to get to Missouri, I would know that I could continue on the L&C. Maybe I picked the wrong part of the country to enjoy the journey, since it’s all corn and soybeans and flat. Maybe I needed more of a push, to jump off the deep end so to speak (I had one more destination in Missouri before St Louis, which biased my attitude). Whatever I needed, I didn’t have. My mood only improved with the thought of arriving in Hannibal. And when I got word that she could come pick me up, saving me a day of riding, I knew from my own response that destinations would always win over journeys, at least in the context of this tour.
So I relax this weekend, go exploring and take my mind off the road. Don’t worry though, I’ll be back in the saddle next season.