Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Here I keep my dreams

Date: September 18
Mileage: 28.7
September mileage: 212.6

If you ever have an hour or 37 to kill, I strongly recommend reading through the bicycle tour blog "Cycling Silk." It chronicles the adventures of several college students crossing western China's Silk Road and Tibet on bicycles ... one of them, Kate, is my friend's cousin or cousin's friend. I don't remember. The connection is distant and I've never met her, but I read what she writes and I feel like I know her:

"On a bike trip, you are exposed to the world around you in a way and to a degree that few other modes of transportation afford. That kind of raw vulnerability has its drawbacks - like choking on the fumes of transport trucks that roar past, or feeling every little bump in the road translate itself into a saddle sore. But in the end the perks take the prize: the freedom to explore a landscape at your own pace, under your own power, and the exhilaration that comes with traveling with all you need strapped to your wheels. This is nomadism at its best, with every day bringing some new adventure, be it grim or glorious, soul-stirring or soul-shaking. Whatever happens, on a bike you are rarely bored."

I won't spoil any of Kate's adventures, but it's definitely worth it to click on the archives and start from the beginning. It's my dream to one day visit this part of the world - cross the Gobi Desert and roll over the 17,000-foot passes that separate China from Tibet. So I'm guilty of armchair adventuring with only a stranger's blog and vague notions to guide me.

I dislike using the term "someday" as much as I dislike using "never" when I talk about my goals. I'm of the opinion that if you want to do something with your life, you should be working toward it right now. Even if it's financially or physically impossible, if you're not taking any type of action - stashing away savings, teaching your kids Chinese - then it's nothing more than a dream. It's no different than the confounding images that haunt my groggy morning snooze sessions ... they're not real, they're not satisfying, and, inevitably, they're bound to be forgotten before the Cocoa Puffs hit the bowl.

In a way, I keep hitting the snooze button on bicycle touring. I love it. I dream about it. It's a big part of who I've become. But I never do anything about it. Three years ago, I rode a bicycle from Salt Lake City to New York, and I don't think I've since found a simpler, purer way of living. Bicycle touring isn't practical as something to do forever, but I also don't like to use the term forever. I like to think about what I want or need to do right now. And right now, I'd like to work toward taking another bicycle tour.