A few months before this '88 photo was taken, I put in about thirty miles of "training" on my road bike. My older brother Pieter took a cruise on a mountain bike for about forty yards in the parking lot of a local bike store, added some slicks, and had them box it up. Add a couple of gear packages, some maps, and we were off to Vancouver not really knowing a thing about bike touring. Dirtbagging along in cotton T-shirts with zinc oxide noses and an endless supply of peanut butter and honey sandwiches, we rolled into San Francisco with a ton of great memories. That trip sparked a few more cross country tours but most importantly it instilled a realization that you can't wait to figure everything out before taking the leap.
Somewhere along the way I let things get complicated. For a while ultrarunning worked to keep things in a state of unbalanced balance. Who knows what the tipping point was, the reasons don't really matter. The desire to take a break for a while, experience different areas of the world, different perspectives, and a more simplistic lifestyle focused on accumulating experiences rather than stuff was increasingly at the forefront of my thoughts.
The initial plan included lacing up a pair of Hokas and fast-packing the Continental Divide. After watching The Runner, I came to the realization no one was likely to crew me and after several years of ultrarunning, I was starting to feel the need to take a little running break... In comes Barb with Alastair Humphrey's books telling me "I should do it" coupled with TC's endless list of bikepacking blog links and the rest started to slowly fall into place.
Making the leap has not been easy. Casting off the security of my professional life in San Francisco, the beginnings of a great relationship and the ability to spend time with family and friends as frequently induces a high level of anxiety. But leaning into the unknown, getting out of my comfort zone and experiencing a more extended relationship with the outdoors are things I feel compelled to experience while I still can. The fear of looking back years from now wondering why I never took the plunge is worse. In the words of Alan Watts "better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way..."
I'm not sure where the unfolding journey will lead and beyond serving to keep friends and family informed I hope this blog provides moments of inspiration for your own journey.