The night before I had loaded down my Opus hybrid bicycle with two overstuffed panniers and fastened a single man tent, purchased at Canadian Tire for the ultra-low price of $29.99, to prepare for the 303km journey from Quispamsis New Brunswick to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Now, a mere 2km into this excursion my lungs and legs were begging me to turn back.
An overnight, longer distance, cycling trip held out some whacky masochistic appeal to me for some reason and I was finally embarking of my first trip of any mentionable length. I had ‘prepared diligently’ by making rides of 35km and 52km respectively. At this point I thought perhaps I should have trained more.
Distance cycling is an abnormally solitary venture. There is nothing quite like the solitude of pulling out of a rural New Brunswick town with only the sound of small rubber tires and the whirring of the the bicycle chain to keep you company. As for meeting acquaintances during cycling pit stops, let’s just say that cycling clothing seems to invite others to simply keep their distance. (See above photo for any clarification). If it is solitude, isolation, burning lungs and legs, and a seemingly monumental challenge you crave for your weekend getaway from the office then I totally recommend picking an isolated rural route and loading up the old ten speed. For added adventure, tackle this during off season when many restaurants, shops, and hotels may (or may not) be in operation.
A funny thing happened on this trip. Against my better judgement, and while ignoring my bodies impatient plea for me to turn around — I just kept pedalling. The kilometres whizzed by. Soon, I had completed 100km and the burning sensation and the accompanying dismal feeling of failure had been replaced by comfortably cyclical rhythm of the pedals. Hills that once imposed their will over mine now became an exciting hurdle to the next section of unexplored highway. By the time darkness set in on day one I had completed a fully loaded 189km trek while leaving a mere 114km to conquer the next day. I pulled in my final destination at about 4pm the following afternoon.
I share this story because it has occured to me that this struggle, and eventual triumph, is a continuous cycle for me. I ran 5k on my lunch hour. It hurt. It hurt ESPECIALLY after 600m when I did not think I could push on. But I did. Recording my first full length album was something that seemed impossible until I did it. Same with my initial backpacking trips which I had every reason in the world NOT to pursue (you know those reasons – money, time, commitments, money, money money). But once the mind is made up to accomplish something …. well, that thing is nearly accomplished and everything WILL fall into place to allow it to happen. It is really about changing your mindset to realize that anything is possible.
“Anything I’ve done that was ultimately worthwhile initially scared me to death” – Betty Bender
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