Recap of the first 3 days: Cycling across America: 19 Sept. 2018

Written by Dan Osterman

“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you aren’t afraid of dying, there is nothing you can’t achieve. Trying to control the future is like trying to take the master carpenter’s place. When you handle the master carpenter’s tools chances are that you’ll cut your hand.”

Lao Tzu: Verse 74

These words come from my favorite book the Tao Te Ching and I believe they’re perfectly stated from where I sit today.

I’m 3 days into a world cycle tour. I started in Normal, IL which is pretty funny considering all things. Biking across the country isn’t very normal. The first day I biked 68 miles and made it to Havana, IL and camped on the Illinois River for $4. I enjoyed Havana quite a lot. I had a great conversation with a girl behind the bar at a place called “Babe’s” I went to for dinner and the following morning I went to McDonalds to work on Nice Guys projects.

After calling into HQ and finishing around 3pm I hit the road and biked 29 miles to a small town called Rushville, IL where I found a structure to pitch my tent under on the county fairgrounds property. There was a thunderstorm and it was my second night, so I didn’t really want to spend the night in the rain. Thankfully my friend gave me some stealth camping advice and I found a place to camp. It worked out nicely, but I thought I could leave my rain cover off the tent because I was mostly sheltered. I was wrong. At 4am thunder and the tiniest of water droplets sprinkling on my head woke me up. I jumped up and put the cover on the tent in the dark, which I forgot to mention I had to do with the tent, set it up in complete darkness. It took a while but I managed to grab a few hours of quality sleep.

I got up around 6am after the rain stopped and was on the road out of town by 8am. Today I biked 60 miles and made it to the border of Illinois and Missouri at the Mississippi river. I learned I’m unable to bike across the bridge, so I called the Police to see if they could give me a ride or suggest another alternative and they told me to call a Lyft. 

I decided to grab a room in town tonight because I’m pretty exhausted and really wanted to shower. I’ve been riding in 90+ degree weather and I haven’t stopped sweating. I have to check out tomorrow by 11 so I plan on doing a load of laundry in the morning while I eat breakfast, and after I pack the bike I will request an Uber XL. Once they accept I’ll call them and ask if they can take my bike across the bridge. If that fails, I’ll call the one cab company in town and try to see if they’ll use their van to help me get across. Plan C will be me riding to the bridge with a sign asking for a ride over the water.

Either way once I cross the river I will be in Missouri. I plan to head straight across the state into Kansas and then up to Denver where I’ll take a week off from “traveling” and fly to Marin County for a week of work during the Mill Valley Film Festival. I then fly back to Denver and pick up riding again with my friend who suggested the stealth camping tips. He’s a lot more experienced than I am. This is my first adventure like this. My bike is carrying way too much weight and I’m not sure where to trim the fat and still feel like I have everything I need to work and travel at the same time. But I do think I need to lose weight before I ride over the Rockies.

The ride has been kicking my butt. I feel my legs growing beneath me each day, but the heat is slowing me down a lot. I should have ridden more prior to leaving but there’s no sense in complaining now, I’m riding, and I’ll have to push through the difficulties. The thing I’m focusing on most out there while I’m riding is to remain in the moment. I have a wandering mind which is why I started practicing meditation, it’s helped show me that I’m not actually my thoughts and that I have the ability to hold on to them or release them. Trips like this force you to release your thoughts because otherwise you’ll become the suffering ones your mind likes to generate during challenging experiences.

Push through, Daniel. “I am strong. I am capable.” I found myself repeating this over and over. I also found when I had to climb a hill or endure long stretches of straight pedaling past field after field, it was easier when I softly focused my attention far ahead on something unmoving, slowed my breath to a noticeable fashion, and simply noticed my senses as I moved forward. It worked like a magnet. It really did help. `

I am excited to finally be on this trip. It’s one hell of a challenge, but I believe the rewards are far greater than the fatigue I’m currently feeling. I’ve already met some fun people. People are curious when they see a bike fully loaded riding through town. I get a lot of questions. But that’s why I want to travel, to experience new things and see the different ways people live.  I am grateful for the challenge. There are lessons in each of them. I have the opportunity to become rigid from the difficulties in front of me or to remain subtle as the Tao might suggest. The way to be subtle in life is through accepting change and developing resourcefulness toward any given situation.

Today’s tip from the road: Remain present. Remain mindful. Set your mind on experiencing the moment. That’s where the magic is hiding.

Thanks for reading!

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