My blog writing process is always the same. I think of many things I could write about while riding, though rarely make notes, but imagine they will stick with me and make this time easier. These thoughts are gone by the time I actually start. I write a little, pick some pictures, stall a lot, write a little, stall some more. It can be a bit frustrating, and sometimes I don’t feel like I have much interesting to say, and eventually it has taken too much time and I just post something. You are welcome to report disappointment, but probably I won’t be writing again for a time, so why bother.
We made it back to Atlana, my father and I, the both of us. I wonder why, at times, when I was alone so many people asked if I get scared and why not and what about my mother and this and that, but when I decide to goad my dad into riding 700 miles with me from South Florida back to his home in Atlanta- possibly more miles than he had put on a bike in his life- no one wants to know why I was not scared of this responsibility. Well, I was a little nervous. He made it though, and enjoyed bike traveling and/or spending two solid weeks with me, in case you were worried but hadn’t told me.
I think traveling by bike isn’t quite as some people who haven’t tried it would imagine. It isn’t so grueling, really. It can be in moments, but mostly, it is something to do for fun. Traveling by bike is slow, but you go at a comfortable pace and enjoy the slowness. If it isn’t fun anymore it is time for a break.
On traveling with another person: These two weeks were the longest I have been on the road by bicycle with another human ever. (By a lot, I think my previous record was five days) My father and I are pretty similar in some ways, including both being annoying and easy to annoy. It is important, when considering traveling in any form with another person, to consider how you interact and in what ways you can make keep this from becoming unpleasant. We hardly had any time apart during the two weeks, which actually worked out ok for us. I may have been obnoxiously encouraging, especially towards the end of the day, but we actually managed to continue civilly. I was prepared to do this with him, and in fact only to bike this section if he wanted to join me, and so compromising was relatively easy. We had some trouble when we would both hope for the other to make a choice we felt indifferent about. Some tips: predetermine a communication strategy, using bells and maybe hand signaling, because you can’t always hear words well from the bike. Plan to check in periodically, especially at turns or tops of hills. If one person doesn’t feel hungry regularly, they should eat whenever the other does. Remember that you want to have fun and also that you want the other person to have fun and that stressing at them will trouble you both.
My dad is unprepared for and uninterested in camping. This meant a bit less flexibility with stopping, especially as we got into Georgia. As towns that people may actually want to stop in grew fewer and farther between, sometimes the options for places to sleep were 30+ miles apart, making the choice on where to stop a bit less of a choice. Occasionally we had friends, family, or warm showers folks to visit with, which is can be nicer than a motel/hotel, depending on how social one feels.
There are hills as you start getting into Georgia. You cannot just hand someone your strategies for hill climbing, nor the idea that really, out there exist hills miles long and much steeper, these aren’t so bad… But it is better just to acknowledge that these are hard. It gets easier each day, or seems a bit less imposing at least.
I have made two previous entrances to the city of Atlanta by bike. My takeaway was, this will probably be the worst part of the trip. Turns out, though population density and thus traffic definitely increase as you get closer to the city from all sides, coming from the south east feels a bit less suicidal than any of the roads I found to try from the north and west.
And so we made it back to Atlanta. Sometimes I feel like my dad refuses to say good things about the trip, but I am trying not to overcompensate by making him say something positive in addition to noting how sore he got and how big the hills were, because there is actually no reason for me to get so defensive. I know he had fun. If he needs to point out that even though he made it it wasn’t easy, that is ok too.
For now, I am pretty much done traveling. I am hanging out with my family in Atlanta for a bit. I expect to be in Nashville the 25th or so, and then my mom and I will drive back to Pittsburgh the 28th-ish. I am excited about this. I am not the wanderluster that you may imagine. I am sure there will be much that I miss about traveling, but for now I am looking forward to having some of the regularity of living in one place for a while.
In the words of Pat Zietlow Milller, whom you introduced to us: “During your journey you’ll ramble and roam. But sooner or later, you’ll think of your home. After you’ve seen all you needed to see, a road takes you back where you’re longing to be. Back to that hill, under that bridge, deep in your valley, high on your ridge. Roads take you all over the planet, but then… you always can follow them home once again…”
Welcome home, Aryn. For now… 😉
Aryn: It has been interesting following your blog for the past year.
.On April 3rd it will be one year ago that I met up with this young lady along the Welland Canal Trail and rode with her for several hours and listened to her ambitious plan for a cycling adventure that I had never heard anyone attempt before.
If you write a book as per your Grandfather’s wishes let me know how I can get a copy.
Good luck on the final leg of your unique journey.
St. Catharines, Ontario
What an opportunity taken; both of you- what a road you two paved of common ground, literally.
What grace went with you both.
Well he can just be happy that I kept all that worry to myself. Ditch the black jeans my brain screamed~to no one listening…and then there’s always rhabdomyolysis…..which becomes a distinct possibility when pushing oneself that extra 30 to the next bed….oh! The things you live to tell about.[Motto #2]
And, you just can”t pay for that kind of entertainment !
Can’t wait to see you!!! 🙂