I ride long days. Seventy, ninety miles on my fomhor. A reader asked:
Why so fast? Why the stressful schedule—are you enjoying the path? Why not saunter like a Sadhu.
I can’t voice the breathless joy of the road. It hangs on the fog, falls from the wind, rises from the hill, stings with the sun.
Yes, I enjoy my Adventure.
And it tests me. There are days I have no idea how to move. I’m not accustomed to giving up. No pain, no difficulty, no strain can stop me—mostly. I wasn’t born this way. Once I was scared of everything, gave up at any resistance, looked for reasons to quit. It took years of practice to learn to push through duress.
And how long to learn to fail?
I was exactly lost between two remote towns. 20 miles on to the next, 15 miles back to the last. 20 miles is a short jaunt, but not with a swimming head.
I stopped for water. Nearly fell off the bike. Then I knew. No 20 miles left in me. Not even four. I stumbled into a woods beside a creek, found a place to camp, went and fetched my bike, covered in ants.
Paralyzed, I accepted a fever sleep in my hammock. When I woke up anxiety seized my heart.
Was this a good day? No, and spare me the grand design. There was no purpose in my suffering, no special lesson to be learned. This did not Happen For A Reason.
But I take my food with spice.
Everyone wants their story to be heard. And good stories have shit moments. It builds tension, forces us to care. It makes the rest matter.
The next day, taking a shower in a county fairgrounds, in a little concrete stall—I could’ve been a duke. It felt like pure velvet luxury.
Hot coffee and soft white eggs: I savored them like the scent of a woman’s hair.
I don’t adventure to seek hard moments. They find me quick enough. If I choose long tough days it’s practical: to meet a person with a bed, to see a certain town, to reach an event I want to see. 90 miles in the saddle and two days off is nicer than three days scrambling.
And I still learn.
I’m a journeyman priest, but a novice to the journey.
If money, timing, weather, gear didn’t matter, I’d go just 40 miles then stay put for a week.
But all things have limits, and so, from imperfect apples I choose the least bruised fruit.
That is the art of Adventure.