This year has been full of hard choices. Deciding to do this tour, deciding to quit my job, deciding to go to grad school, deciding between USC and UCLA, and now — after nearly two months on the road — deciding to stop riding. Let me explain.
Day 47: St. Paul, MN to Cambridge, MN, 60 miles
I left the Twin Cities on Monday with the intention of riding north to get back on the Northern Tier route. Google Maps had me literally riding in circles in downtown St. Paul but after some confusion, I found my way out of the city. Almost immediately, I was hit with an overwhelming desire to stop riding. I wanted to turn around and ride back to the city. Get off my bike. Stop. I told myself it was just the result of having spent the previous three days off the bike, resting up and hanging out with family and friends I hadn’t seen in years. The feeling would disappear if I just kept riding, I thought.
But it didn’t disappear.
After 60 miles, I stopped in Cambridge, MN to camp at the county fairgrounds. Once again, I found myself the only tent camper amidst a lot full of RVs. Tired from a late start and some rough wind in the last 15 miles, I decided to grab some fast food for supper rather than cook. When I came back, this is what I found:
Despite having double-staked my tent and set my panniers in each corner to weight it down, the wind had blown it over on its side. Upon righting it, I discovered that one of the cross poles was bent. Just what I needed after the mentally-challenging day I’d had. At that moment, I saw the next month stretch out before me. Another thirty-five days of endless wind, depressing RV parks, and gas station food. The towns would grow farther apart, the landscape more desolate, the population more sparse. Suddenly, continuing west felt like a chore rather than an adventure. I was no longer excited at the prospect of riding, and even the promise of Glacier National Park didn’t hold the allure it once did. Still, I told myself I would sleep on it.
Day 48: Cambridge, MN to Anoka, MN (35 miles)
In the morning, I woke up and turned my bike back towards the Twin Cities, thinking that once I got there I would either (a) take an Amtrak to Glacier (bypassing North Dakota and freeing up a week at the end of my trip) or (b) rent a car and drive home. By early afternoon, the feeling of wanting to stop still hadn’t faded, so I made a hard choice. I decided to go home.
I’ve been back in Omaha for three days now, avoiding writing this post — because writing this post makes it real. Writing this post means it’s really over. It was a hard decision to stop riding, and while part of me knows it was the right decision, part of me still wants to be back out on the road. Everyone I have spoken to about it tells me to be proud of what I accomplished. Riding from Portland, ME to Cambridge, MN is still quite a feat, they tell me. Over two thousand miles. Impressive, they say. I’m trying, but it’s hard to be proud of finishing half of something. I’ve always been the kind of person who finishes what she starts. When I say I’m going to do something, I do it. Even if I don’t like it. So this whole thing is new for me, and I’m still trying to figure out how to process it.
Thank you to everyone who followed along on this blog and on Instagram. I enjoyed sharing my experience with you and I’m happy so many of you enjoyed it. Your support and encouragement really meant a lot to me. I’ve been told by a few people that I should keep writing, so I will try. Though about what, I’m not sure yet. I honestly don’t know what the rest of the summer holds for me. I know that I want to keep traveling but I haven’t quite figured out how or where. I spent most of yesterday afternoon pricing plane tickets to various places around the world. France, Costa Rica, Spain, Italy, Tanzania, New Zealand, Bali, Iceland. Who knows where I’ll end up? Maybe one of these places. Maybe none of them. If anyone has any ideas or wants a travel partner, let me know. I’m up for anything.
In the meantime, if you would like to continue to virtually follow along on a bike tour, here are some blogs I recommend. These are all folks I met either on the road or online, and they’re still out there pedaling away.
- Tyler Johnston: blog / Instagram
- Kim Walker: blog / Instagram
- Jeff Goodlander: blog
- Ride for Korah: blog / Instagram
- Joe Shaw: Instagram / website
- Carol & Colin: blog
- Tom, Mike, & Cody: Mike’s blog / Tom’s Instagram
- Karl Sanchez: blog / Instagram
Thanks again to everyone who read my posts, gave me a place to sleep, fed me dinner, gave me advice, fixed my broken spokes, stopped to check on me, packed me lunch, or otherwise supported me during the past two months. Thank you thank you thank you. You’re the best.
This isn’t the end, just a shift in the path. See you soon.