Monday, May 10
Chased by Dogs. Broken bikes. Big Loud Trucks. and getting really really tired of biking.
The old Lousianna "Bridge is Out" trick. It was actually out, not a trick. We chose to Ford the River.
Rain and Snow and Hail.
In 2008 my friend Meers and I rode our bikes from San Francisco to Key West, 4,556 miles. No big deal.
Seriously, I used to think it was a big deal, but now I know that's just not true. Everybody wants to do something truly unique and amazing in their life. I wanted to stand out and be able to say to my grandkids, Yeah, when I was younger, I went out on my own and had an amazing adventure.
The truth is I did have an amazing adventure. But nowadays I don't talk about it much. Today I'm sitting comfortably here at home, typing away on my laptop, thinking of how to objectify 3 months of my life into a neat little blog post, and how to wrap it up so I can tell you I learned a neat little lesson from my journey. And the funny thing is I did learn from it, and I can explain it, but not well enough. Not even to myself.
Part01 was supposed to be about "obstacles"...
We had some problems out there. Hardships. Or inconveniences, or Adversities. We were chased by every breed of Dog America has to offer, as we slowly pedaled across America. Dogs would glare at us from their yards, or front porches, and no matter how small the dog, they would chase us, barking, and nipping at our heels. This got to be a daily occurrence, and by the time we got to New Mexico we invested in Mace to keep some of the more determined K9's at bay. When a blizzard hit in New Mexico, we got snowed in for a week at 8,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains, unable to proceed until the roads were cleared of snow and ice. We got rained on in every state, hailed on in Texas, and snowed on in New Mexico. A homeless Meth Head asked to fight us in a McDonalds parking lot in Arizona. Luckily he moved on by the time we finished our double cheeseburgers. And the bike problems, oh the bikes. Meers got seven flat tires in one day in Texas, he broke his fork (the front end of his bike) and was forced to walk 40 miles from Alabama to Florida to get new parts. I even broke my brakes crossing from California to Arizona!
When I think about these "hardships" now, I laugh. They were all things to expect, things to deal with. Things that people think would happen everyday out there on the road. But at the time, they seemed like the biggest obstacles in the world. We were forced to slow down and confront each problem head on. This is life, this is travel, and this is photography. Things happen; weather doesn't cooperate and equipment breaks. I learned to take it all with a grain of salt, and a little grumbling, but then to move forward, to fix what's broken or pedal through the hard times. That's the lesson I learned from the problems on this journey. That things will not be perfect, that I will make mistakes in route, and equipment, and decision, but that I will be able to figure them out.
We wouldn't have made it all the way to Key West if we had thought anything was too tough to deal with. And things were plenty tough, we slept in graveyards at times, we biked 140 miles without stopping one night, and we were broke the whole time, scraping by at the end by eating canned corn or baked beans from the dollar store. The "hardships" now seem like the highlights, the tough times where we creatively and obligingly figured out how to make it work. I biked across America with the help of optimism, sheer luck, the generosity of friends, family AND strangers, and dumb fucking luck. And I know it.
The trip is over but you can see our archived Blog here....RIDEHARDUSA
Enthusiastically, Dom Francis