It's hard to believe it's already been a year since @bikepackingcom, @joecruzpedaling, @joelwcaldwell, and I traveled to beautiful Kyrgyzstan to scout out the Tian Shan Traverse route.
I'll be sharing some photos from our trip here and in my story over the next few days, something I'm realizing I never really did when we got back.
#FITZBARN RIDE DAY ONE:
A week ago this morning I was 2 hours into the biggest ride of my life... In fact, when I put it that way, I still have a hard time comprehending it.
From Hamilton, I climbed up and up and up on logging roads. By the end of the first day after 124 miles, I was beat and felt defeated. I came nowhere close to my goal of 150+ miles for that day, was exhausted both mentality and physically and had a tire that kept leaking air... Had I signed up for something that was way beyond my current ability? Will I even make it back to work by Tuesday?
That night I hung my hammock between two fence posts on someone's private land. Yeah... I know, but I feared that if I continued into town I wouldn't have anywhere to sleep.
I also had no spoon, so I ate dinner with a tire lever while sitting in my hammock, wrapped up in my emergency bivy. It was so delicious. The warm ramen and potatoes boosted my demeanor.
It got so cold that night and I realized I didn't have my extra pair of wool socks like I thought I had packed.
I listened to the cows and coyotes all night, shivering, debating whether to use my hand and to warmers, but with over 300 miles left (what I felt was at least 3 more days of riding), I opted to spare them as I figured colder nights would be ahead.
The next morning I rode into Jackson with frozen hands and feet. I found Gary there and discovered I could have slept in town. I warmed my hands and refreshed my mind with coffee and a muffin at a hotel.
Reinvigorated with ambition, i was ready to push forward and ignore the previous day's setbacks and feelings.
A few days ago, HBO in Spain accidentally broadcast the next episode of Game of Thrones: s07e06. Ever one to act on a whim, I watched it. The thing is even more packed with HOLY SHIT!! moments than the Dothraki attack on the supply train, and it struck me that if Martin hadn't introduced jeopardy early with the willingness to kill beloved characters, none of this would be exciting at all. The scale and spectacle would be engaging, sure, and the depth of character and plot admirable, but without jeopardy, all we have is boring, predicable frippery.
All cultures are driven by stories; they're the most important thing we do. People who don't like Game of Thrones must therefore prefer boring, predicable stories, encouraging boring, predicable lives. They like things safe, contrary to the perennial human motivations of novelty and exploration. But when you remove risk, you no longer have a benchmark for your usefulness. I think it's this current cultural aversion to adventure that leads to the listless depression, manifesting as spite, so characteristic of modern life.
So hike somewhere beautiful. Paddle a river. Climb a mountain or two. Lie under the stars and contemplate the Cosmos. Watch Game of Thrones. It's okay to be uneasy at first, to be resistant: it takes effort to move from shit to awesome. But it's more than worth your time; it's worth the rest of your life.
Life has a way of throwing obstacles in the way of plans. This obstacle came in the way of extraordinary knee pain. Who would have guessed 220 miles and 20k feet of climbing in 2 days could cause an injury 😅
After spending a relaxing rest day at the Fancy Gap Koa Campground which included many hours of ice bags and elevated legs, a quick dip in the pool, and an entire home made pizza to myself, I made the sad but safe decision to continue the rest of the journey in a vehicle.
Today the adventure continues! .
Day 31: After 112 miles from Bismark to Gackle, the Honey Hub (another free cyclists' hostel) provided beds, WiFi, and a welcome reprieve from overnight rain. Jason (the owner) is a beekeeper, and his dad is co-owner of Honeystinger. We left Casey in Bismark, but found our friends from Minnesota, John and Zach.
"[This time of year] you lock your doors, or else you find your car full of zucchini." - Joel, our Richardton warm showers host.
Found this funny #outtake from #scotland#cairngorms . If love photography, mostly landscape photography. Having a wlan camera makes it easy to take bicycletouring shots but its sometimes still a lot trying 😉
The Trans North Georgia (TNGA) — the third stage of the Southern Highlands Traverse — is a 350 mile (560 KM) #bikepacking route that snakes through the southern Appalachian mountains from South Carolina to Alabama. Hit the link in our profile to view the revamped route!
Preliminary pack up on the bike for round 1 of bike packing, two spare fat tubes add up quickly. #bikepacking#dustytrails#newborn#fatbikes @rockymountainbicycles here's your -30 Blizzard! Stay tuned. More to come as I head out tonight.
Hoping for a somewhat higher ratio between riding and bikepushing today in Finnemarka Forest than what @bicycleimbalance and I encountered while bikerafting in Moskenes at the south-western tip of the Lofoten archipelago last year.
We have both come down with a cold and fevers (thanks Dad!) so we are perching up in a hostel with loads of drugs, fruit and #got7 to get us through the thick of it. Hoping to be back on the road tomorrow 😷🤧🤒