20 Sep 2010, 11:09am
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still moving forward

i know that stopping here at this library will sabotage my progress for the rest of the day, but i’m ok with that. anyway they have a one-hour time limit (or 30 minutes if someone’s waiting, and someone got kicked off for me, so who knows) and won’t let me plug in my camera memory, so maybe i won’t be here so long after all. today’s one of those frustrating days where i can either go 40-odd miles or 80-plus, as far as places to sleep go. 80-plus would be ok–my body can handle it, mostly–but either (a) i am really slow these days (possible), or (b) it is getting on into autumn and there’s less daylight, and i worry about running out of light. excuses, excuses, right? so i’m taking a short day today. yup.

i have been really struggling mentally the past few days with the “am i gonna make it??” question. counting miles obsessively. i was scared that i’d set this goal for myself and i wouldn’t be able to make it–wouldn’t be able to say without qualifications that i biked across the country, would have to rent a car or something to get to my train on time, etc etc. i wanted to go to mammoth cave national park, but it would add such-and-such extra miles, and could i really afford to? and so on.

when i called my mom and asked her whether or not i should go to mammoth cave, and she said “of course you should go”–that was the point at which i could finally step back and remember that my other goal on this trip is just to have fun and learn stuff and talk to people and see the scenery and smell the roses. what am i trying to prove by getting all the way to yorktown (which, in any case, is on the chesapeake bay and barely counts as the atlantic ocean)? i have already proven that i can bike a long way (closing in on 4000 miles), that i can ride up mountains, and so on.

i have also been struggling with the really steep hills around here–so steep i inch sloooowly up them in my great-granny gear and my lower back cramps up. momentum doesn’t work–seems like even if i ride hard on the downhills, it’ll only get me partway up, and then i’m extra-exhausted from trying. i kept waiting to figure out how to do them, to learn some lesson from them, like i did with long climbs in the west (slow down and get into the groove) and the mean winds in kansas (slow down and stay in the moment). but maybe the content of the lesson of these hills isn’t how to get over them–it’s that i gotta stop worrying about whether or not i will. even as i’ve worried and stressed and pulled out my hair about whether or not i’m gonna make it… i have been moving forward. i’ll be in eastern standard time by the end of today.

and i’ve been having a good time! i went to mammoth cave and it was pretty awesome. i don’t think i’d ever been in a cave before! it looked sort of unreal, like the whole thing had been carved out of styrofoam or something.

i’m gonna go at the pace i need to go at, and if october 7th is approaching and it looks like i’m gonna be late, i’ll figure it out then–whether that means renting a car or something or pushing really hard when it doesn’t matter if i can’t bend my knees for a week afterward. hah! in any case, if i’m being exact about it, i already can’t say i’m biking across the country, ’cause i skipped the pacific ocean part and went right down to eugene from portland. so what’s a couple hundred miles on this end, then, if i didn’t care at that end?

lots to write about when i have more time: jane, who pulled over to ask me about bike touring and then invited me into her home for the night; beth, who actually came to pick me up just before dark after 80 miles when i was ready to drop, and then cooked me an amazing dinner; and more.

p.s. i just bought a new sheet of postcard stamps and i’m just dying to send you a postcard! if i don’t have it already (and if i haven’t sent you a postcard yet on this trip, i don’t have it), email it to me: staciafuchsia at gmail dot com.



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