Following this year’s theme of “Get Uncomfortable” I planned a five-day bicycle ride across the state of Missouri. It was to include 50-mile days, camping, cooking over a little stove and lugging all of life’s needs on a bike. Let me be clear; I am not a cyclist or a fitness junkie. I’m your average American binge-watching Netflix and eating snacks.
This trip was the ultimate culmination of getting uncomfortable. No couches. No showers. No internet. No restaurants. No after work drinks.
Mile 0: Day one started with a beautiful drive to the trailhead. I binged on my favorite sing-along songs. I charged up on energy drinks and chocolate. At the trail head I took selfies with my group and hopped around with nervous energy. I felt great.
Mile one: Oh, it is such a beautiful day! The sun on my shoulders feels so nice. I’m so happy this is finally happening.
Mile ten: Gee, it feels like we must have gone at least 15 miles. I can do this; I’m not bored. (Shifts rear on the sit for the 100th time.) The highway patrol driving the trail looking for an escaped prisoner really broke up the monotony. At this point, if he has a diet soda to share, I wouldn’t turn him in.
Mile 20: This isn’t fun. This may have been a mistake. What changes do I need to make it through this? I can’t quit. I told everyone I could do this. Power through!
Mile 36.75: The end of day one. I can’t ride another minute. This was a terrible idea. Everything hurts. I don’t feel better about myself. The Netflix version of me really hates the “let’s improve” version of me.
Day 2, Mile 1: Okay. Just get back on the seat. You can quit at any time. You just need to make it to the next town. Every town has a bar. You can quit and sit at the next bar if you really need to. Just keep going. Strange…why is that guy sitting in a lawn chair on the trail at 7AM? This doesn’t seem safe.
Day 2, Mile 3: Look at that; a thunderstorm.
Day 2, Mile 6: We are literally riding along with the world’s slowest moving thunderstorm cell. Mud. Rain. Lightening. Why is it I peddle at the same rate as the others, but I’m falling behind? What fresh hell is this?
Day 2, Mile 15: Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.
Day 2, Mile 20: I’m just going to walk this bike…in the rain…through the mud. At least it will be a change from being a stupid hamster on a wheel. I can’t do this. Why are there no towns?
Day 2, Mile 28: A town! A sign that shows restaurants! This is it. I can quit. I don’t have to keep doing this. I can quit. This is not making me a better person anyway. I can be rescued and return to my normal life.
I did in fact quit with 185 miles left on the trail. I enjoyed a drink and cheeseburger at Dean’s Bar and Grill while soaking wet and covered in mud. Later that night I purchased some dry clothes and joined a class reunion at a local hotel bar. There is no moral to this story. I did the hard thing and then I realized that hard thing was not making me a better person. I tried; it wasn’t for me; I quit. No regrets.