We are finished with the Appalachian Trail yet here I am, sitting in my tent with Julie, typing a story for Urbyville. We are currently in Manistee National Forest (Michigan) with my Dad, off the side of a trail. We’re doing a four day bike trip through the forest and along the coast and dunes of Lake Michigan. We don’t currently have much of a plan other than we know we need to get back to Findlay, OH by Sunday and our car is sitting in a Wal Mart parking lot in Muskegon.
This unknown aspect of our adventure is beginning to become a recurring theme in our thoughts about what to do after the Appalachian Trail. The trail was such a set destination. A rigorous schedule wasn’t necessarily required, but the actual path and plan were clearly laid out and there was no deviation from this path. In some part then, the way we are viewing our present and near future are anything but clearly defined and laid out for us. We have general dates and people we’d like to visit. We have some basics like a one way plane ticket, but the in between is not clearly established at this point, and to our liking.
Today’s events were a direct result of this approach to life. We attempted to pack our car with three bikes and a tow-behind baby carrier for our gear. As soon as we started, we realized there was no way this stuff was fitting. We eventually got the bikes in but no carrier. We figured we could strap the tents and sleeping pads down to the one bike that had a metal piece to attach gear to while the other two carried their gear in backpacks. Julie didn’t have much seating space in the car either as she was wedged in behind the driver seat next to the bikes. Moral is that we figured out a way to make the bike trip work.
We eventually got on the road after 2pm. We had two big challenges: the first was our start in a busy town with lots of traffic. Julie and I were on new bikes too and from the moment we were on them, we were in traffic. It was a bit scary at first but we got used to it and as we got out of town, traffic thinned out. The second big challenge, and a challenge that will likely be there the entire trip, is the physical discomfort. I’m not talking about tired legs or challenging aerobic exercise. My rear is killing me. It hurts to sit down right now, it hurts to touch, and I’m scared as to how it’ll feel tomorrow when I sit on the bike again. My feet also get sore and hot, my hands hurt, and my neck hurts from looking up. We are total newbies at this and I’m sure all this takes some getting used to but right now, it is the hardest part of a cycling trip.
We ended up riding a little over 40 miles today. It was mainly flat which was very helpful. We actually passed a few horse and buggies with Amish or Mennonites and we were nostalgically reminded of Rumble Strip. It’s good to be outside again though. I was feeling heavy already and I was going to bed later and later each night. I imagine I’ll be asleep well before 10pm tonight and better yet, I’ll likely be up by 6am tomorrow. I am excited to be getting going on our next phase of our adventuring, and the uncharted journey provides its own set of challenges and possibilities. This is all part of the experience though, sore rear and all.