Let’s talk a little bit about how my body and mind has changed over the past 2 months, 3 weeks, shall we?
The tips of my big toes are numb. Just the tips. It will go away once I stop cycling so many hours in a day. My shoes are big enough for sure, it's just the pressure for so many hours. My right foot has the funniest callous on it- a straight line about 2 inches long in the arch. My calves and quads are a little more defined and I've lost fat in my thighs and butt (not complaining...)! My stomach and arms are definitely toned and I've lost fat around my torso/ribs. I would suspect I've lost the most fat on my body in my arms. My hands have had no numbness during this trip like many have endured, but I did lose strength in my hands for about a month. That strength is back now. My eyes, brain and balance adjusted within a week on this trip. Because I spent so much time cycling, that whole system (eyes, brain, balance) adapted to the new speed I was going, the new stance I was in most of the day and new angles I needed for vision (head position, rearview mirror, etc). I can't really explain how I knew my body adapted because it's subtle, but when I'm not riding and I move my head fast or look to the side, I have a weird sensation. It's not dizzy or blurry- just a subtle change. That should all go back to normal within a week or two of being off the bike. I feel a fatigue now in my calves, quads and feet. A soreness all the time. Nothing too painful. No sharp pains but just fatigue. It set in about a week ago, so I'm not complaining. My physical body has felt so good most of this trip. And even now- I'm ok, just tired. I'm incredibly proud of my physical body. I respect my body so much. This is my body. Take it or leave it. Yup, these are my varicose veins and my cellulite and my tiny hands (that I've always been self-consious of) and my bunion on my left foot... I'm real. And the best part? This body cycled across the USA. I am more concerned about those (especially woman) who hate their bodies and why. Now granted, I've always been within a 'healthy' weight. So, take this with a grain of salt. But, I mean, is it nice that I'm more toned? Sure! But, you know what's most important...? Wait until you SEE my lungs in those new skinny jeans. Wait until you SEE my heart sporting a new bikini. Then, you will be impressed. You know why? Because that is truly what's most important. My heart and lungs are so fit right now that I've hopefully extended years onto my life and most importantly, quality to all the years I still have.
Many of my friends have posted or texted that I am their hero. About a dozen people wrote this and I'm inspired that they are inspired by me. I'm no superwoman (although I wish I had Superwoman's outfit...). I'm a normal (ok, kind of!) person with a goal. I had many discussions with others doing a similar trip. Money plays a role in doing something like this. Taking time off work, saving money. But, I think what holds people back more so is fear. Awhile ago I posted that people ask me two questions when they meet me and want to add a third I've been getting in the eastern part of the US:
1. You are doing WHAT?
2. Are you traveling ALONE?
3. Aren't you scared?
For the third question, I always turn it back and say, "Scared of what?" Just because I'm curious what people's fears are for me. Most people say, "men" "rape" "getting your stuff stolen" "crazy people". So, what's amazing is that MY biggest fears are/were, getting hit by a car while someone is driving intoxicated or texting, injury/falling while going downhill and losing control, getting eaten in bear country even though I took the correct precautions and hung my food, fatigue so intense I'd have qui... oh! I don't say that word. Different fears. I'm not going and getting drunk in the local bar and walking to my tent alone in a small town where people are watching my every move. I mean c'mon! Now, I know those fears people have for me exist. They are not impossible. However, the likelihood is quite minimal. Fear really keeps people from doing so much. They don't let their children walk to school. They don't apply for a job that seems out of reach. They don't want to travel to a different country for fear of not speaking the language. They don't wear something fabulous for fear what others think. I have fears... trust me. But, this is the year of living bold and courageously. I don't want to be 90 in my rocking chair with regrets. So, I plan on wearing a Brazilian bikini to my 20th High School Reunion in Connecticut September 28. Just kidding everyone- don't worry! But I will see you there! My mom recently emailed me after the Mom and Dad post and wrote about a conversation she had with my beloved grandfather whom we called Poppa. He was 98 when he died a few years ago.
"I remember asking Poppa the last few days of his life if he had any regrets and he said “no regrets” . I hope that is how we all feel in the end." -Mom
I feel emotionally stronger, more independent, empowered and proud of myself. I'm not lonely. I learned how to ask for help. I learned how to be vulnerable. I learned how to share through writing more about my experience instead of just miles, speed and what I ate for dinner. When I was tired or frustrated on this trip I danced (if you haven't seen the videos, look back on my FB page!). Humor helps a lot. Yesterday I posted on FB: "New Jersey headwind is killing me. Reframe: This ocean breeze is delightful". I mean, you have to use humor. It helps. Sometimes, you feel insecure because other cyclists can be incredible critical. "Why don't you get up earlier each day to leave?" "Why do you have trailer?" "Why are you taking that route?" And, you just state why you made the decisions you made. It's simple. And, that is empowering. You have to make the trip your trip. This was my dream, my goal. Some days (only recently), I ask myself, "What the heck was I thinking? Who's idea WAS this?" It was mine. I'm steering this ship. And, I'll make it to shore.
My brother Dave made me 5 volumes of music mixes and one of the songs with lyrics that most resonates with me is Wake Me up by Avicii featuring vocals from Alex Blacc.
"Wake Me Up" by Avicii
Feeling my way through the darkness, Guided by a beating heart, I can't tell where the journey will end, But I know where to start
They tell me I'm too young to understand, They say I'm caught up in a dream, Well life will pass me by if I don't open up my eyes, Well that's fine by me
So wake me up when it's all over, When I'm wiser and I'm older, All this time I was finding myself, And I didn't know I was lost
I tried carrying the weight of the world, But I only have two hands, Hope I get the chance to travel the world, But I don't have any plans
Wish that I could stay forever this young, Not afraid to close my eyes, Life's a game made for everyone, And love is the prize
So wake me up when it's all over, When I'm wiser and I'm older, All this time I was finding myself, And I didn't know I was lost, Didn't know I was lost, I didn't know
Something I did in about 50% of the homes that I stayed in was say grace with families at meals. That is not something I usually do. I found it quite nice to say thanks for food, company, family, health each night. To whomever! G-d, Jesus, Mother Nature. Am I a more religious person as a result of this journey? No, I don't think so. Is it quite impossible to not believe there is something bigger than me out there? For me, yes. Is it G-d? Not necessarily. I saw signs in things. Like the butterflies that pushed me up hills and seeing daisies in certain places that inspired me. Noticing things that made me laugh and motivated me to push harder. People I met. Is it science? Religion? You see, it doesn't matter to me. Whether I'm seeing signs that are a coincidence or a higher power's concoction is not actually what is important to me. What is important is the guidance and strength I felt as a result of the incidents. I know people prayed for me while I have been on this journey (thank you). And I know that I've wanted to stay safe and healthy on this trip. Whether it was my own decisions that kept me safe (I want to take responsibility for that, by the way), or a higher power, energy that helped keep me safe and healthy doesn't matter to me. Maybe it's a combination of both. Either way, we are here on this earth. And, what's most important to me is to love and live. To the fullest.
I'm proud of myself. This is my body and mind and it cycled across the country.