When it comes to endurance activities, it seems having the mental attitude to keep pushing forward is pretty damn important. I think I achieved some solid mental push-ups the last few days to push myself to get home (AKA Mom's condo in Alsip, IL). I don't think the milage would impress the average cyclist but keep in mind before judging.. I wasn't able to train properly for this trip because of an injury, it's been 16 days of riding and half sleeping on the side of the road or trail and I've got a loaded down bicycle with alllll that stuff.
Back in Missouri when I thought I had made my final decision to turn back, I still had my doubts it was the right one. Even after riding 50 miles back east to St. Charles, MO. I spotted Picasso’s coffeeshop and thought that looks like a good place to get a cup a coffee and think on it. As I stepped in and before the recoiling springs can even close the door behind me, a patron stands up and asks me in a way as if he knows I must have gotten asked his impending question a million times already “OK, where you coming from? Where you going?” I share my new route with him and he seems impressed. I share my original route with him and he seems like most people, speechless. I also share with him my dilemma on not knowing if I should continue or ride back home. My new coffee loving friend Adam, suggests I go down the street and talk to Joey, owner of the outdoor gear store, Take A Hike. He assured me would be a good person to talk to about my problem.
I head over there half expecting Joey to look like some bearded, white robe wearing adventure wizard with some magical walking stick that will reveal my true path. Nope.. he's sporting a T-shirt and ball cap and looks like.. a guy named Joey. As I walk up to the store he swings the door open and says “Come on in man! Adam told me you might be coming by”. In short, he really helped me figure it out. When you're doing something you love whether it be cycling, hiking or surfing, you do it to be in the moment and forget about your problems. Not to dislike the thing you love and create a new set of problems. What a great guy! He even mailed a package back home for me!
Thank you adventure wizard… with the best prices on the internet.
Keeping my promise to stay in contact.. I call my mother and let her know of my new plan. “OK Jimmy, let me know where you are and I'll come pick you up.” Oh God! The last thing I want is my mommy to come pick me up! Because of this and thinking about anyone who didn't believe I could have physically complete this route lit a fire under my ass. OK, let's see what I'm made of then and test myself. How fast can I get home?
I decided not to go back the same way and cross into IL and try and follow old Route 66 home. While free camping with my tarp and sleeping bag, I was able to cover some good distances including 118 & 121 mile rides back to back on my last two days. I fought off more goose attacks and out ran the farm dogs. Plowed through so many bugs along the Mississippi it sounded like it was raining as they collided against my helmet. Rode miles on large rocky gravel roads that had me asking the Lord for relief through my teeth clattering from the vibration. Finding creeks I could filter water from. Getting beat up by the drafts of passing 80mph cars and semis while fighting head winds among huge windmills that gave me the sense in my exhusted delirium that I was golf ball getting wacked around in a giant miniature golf course. Steep 21% grades, and yes, more rain, rain, cold rain right into the night. I tell myself don't stop! Keep this 15mph average I've held in the final few minutes of this final ten hour ride home. Finally arriving on my mom's street of 123rd & Cicero. “I'm gonna do it!” I screamed. With just a quarter mile to go there's a downward slope that allows me to pickup speed and triumphantly finish strong with the idea of turning into the parking lot of my mother's condo complex like some kind of super athletic riding olimpian. Then all of a sudden.. Choo Choo! Ding Ding Ding Ding! Freaking train.. I slowed down, stopped.. and laughed out loud, in the rain, waiting with all the other cars for a very slow moving train to pass by. I wonder what those drivers thought of me?
OK, train gone, I pedal the final few hundred yards. I put my bike in the garage and walk into my Mom's place tired, cold, soaking wet but on a high from my physical achievement yet feeling that I'm 30% done. My mother immediately hands me my mail as if to say, welcome back to the real word, now stop fucking around. My brother is reclining comfortably in a chair, remote in hand and asks, “You wanna watch something on TV man?” And all my nephew is curious about is where did I go ka ka. Yes, it was a hero's welcome.
Side note.. I did arrive before the package Joey mailed for me. It arrived the next morning. Not sure how that speaks of me or the USPS.
About Plan B…
Car + Guitar + Parks = All Smiles
Goose attack 3Dog chase 7
Dog attack 0
Human attack 1
Chupacabra sighting 0
Total mileage 1008
Longest days ride 121.6 miles 10hrs
Fastest speed 41.3 mph