I don't know what to say to wrap up something like this. I was always bad at conclusions in English class. The truth is that there's not much I could say that would be terribly accurate, since in real life, things don't end with a bang, immediately followed by a neat conclusion. Things just end, and you move on to the next thing. And that's how this ride ended. Like any other day, when I got to Athan's apartment, I got off Freebird, hauled her inside, took a shower, and changed into my one of my two T-shirts and three pairs of underwear that I'd worn all summer. Took a nap. It was only at around 6:00 PM that night that anything different happened: pizza and beer after an all-too-long hiatus.
Life is still a little abstract right now. It can be pretty bizarre to go back to a lifestyle that was once perfectly normal, but is now radically different from what you're used to. Fortunately, I haven't had a whole lot of responsibilities for the time being. I've been spending most of my time just hanging out at Athan's, since I'm crashing on his couch for a week until we move into a new apartment together. I've been looking for work and found a part-time job at a bike shop. I start it this weekend, and after a week of doing very little, I'm actually excited about working.
One of the stranger things about adjusting back to "normal" life is just that you wake up in the morning and think "What do I want to do today?" For the longest time, my day consisted of wake up, eat, ride, eat, sleep. Now I actually decide what I want to do, and in what order. Of course, it hasn't consisted of much.
I've been seeing some old friends again, which is great. Even someone like me does get a little lonely after spending a few months solo. When I tell people what I did this summer, the most common reaction is still "You're crazy." Maybe I am in a few ways, compared to most people. But I like being different. I'd rather stick out than fit in.
So what's next? Very soon I start at that part-time job, and I'll also be moving in with Athan. Right away, I'm going to start looking for better work. The bike shop sounds like a great/fun job, but it's supposed to be temporary. I didn't spend all that time in college just to not use my degree. I'll be looking into green energy companies especially, but I think for now I'll take what I can get. I'm also planning on pursuing an online Master's degree. I wanna separate myself a little more in the job market. Also, as I've mentioned in a previous entry, you can teach at community college with a Master's. I liked teaching, but I don't like parenting. I think teaching at the collegiate level is the only way to do one without the other. And on top of that, you get summers off. I'm going to miss that.
After Texas 4,000, I noticed that everyone reacted to the end of the ride differently. Some people were new to cycling at the beginning of that summer, discovered they liked it over the course of the summer, and became a somewhat avid cyclist when they got back. Some people put their bike in the closet and never wanted to see spandex again. Some people (Travis) must've gotten hooked on the ride and started biking like a madman. As for me, I started looking for my next challenge, which turned out to be marathons.
And that's how I feel right now, like I want another challenge. This ride has only reminded me how much I love taking on things that most people don't try, and how much of the world I'd like to see and conquer with only my own manpower. I would absolutely love to do more, bigger, longer bike tours all over the world someday. And I'd like to get into backpacking, ocean kayaking, you name it. I just wanna keep having adventures. And I may even want to bring someone along next time. I just don't know what the next one will be just yet. Since most non-teaching professions don't allow for two months of paid vacation, a long-distance bike tour is not likely to be next on my list. More likely is a triathlon, though I seem to be cursed with those.
It may be the end of the ride, but it's not the end of the journey. More the end of a chapter. I'm too young to stop challenging myself. I'll never be too old for that either. And I think that goes for everyone. No matter what, there's no reason you can't take on challenges, have adventures, and improve yourself. It's just a matter of doing it. And no matter how hard it is, it's never impossible. Ride hard, ride strong, and ride when it's not convenient. But no matter what, just keep riding.
Thanks for reading.
from Pedal for Potatoes