In 94 days, I will begin to cycle the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route from the Gulf of Mexico to Niagara Falls. Why? And how am I going to pull this off?
The Roots of an Idea...
When I learned years ago that the Adventure Cycling Association had designed a bicycle route that traces some of the routes people followed during their escapes from slavery, I knew it was a route I wanted to ride. I always assumed, though, that I would have to ride the route in sections. After all, when would I ever have enough time off from work to do this extended ride from beginning to end?
The Roots Take Hold...
These last few years, my job has consumed me. I mean CONSUMED. I have always been a hard worker, a committed worker. Some people who know me might say that I am a bit Type A, maybe even a bit obsessed. But this was over the top, beyond the pale. I lost the last two summers completely to my job. (If you live in Maine and don't find time to enjoy the summertime, something is really wrong.) I no longer noticed the changing of the seasons. In fact, these last two years only had two seasons for me: the season of extreme overwork, and the season of caring for my mother while she was dying and while I was extremely overworking. You get the idea.
I found myself engaging in escape fantasies more and more. "What would I rather be doing? I'd rather be bicycling the Underground Railroad route!...Nah, I can't do that!"...followed by all the reasons why I couldn't do that. Until the day I began finishing that internal argument with "Could I DO that?" Once I truly analyzed things--setting aside my fears and looking at my real circumstances--I realized I really could do that. Then the question became: "Do I have the courage of my convictions and desires to actually do that?"
What Have I Done?
I have stopped.
After working without a break since the age of 14, I have quit my job and walked away.
I am changing course and heading in a new direction.
I am taking some time to slow down, breathe, unwind, recover.
I will bicycle the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route.
Then I will get back to building the house that I started years ago but has been completely on hold for over two years. (See my blog about that project.)
After all that, and hopefully with some new/fresh perspective, I will seek new employment.
How Will I Do This?
I am smart enough to know that this aging, out-of-shape, very-fried woman should not jump on a bicycle and start riding the 2,007-mile Underground Railroad route. I have preparation to do. Over the next few months, I will chronicle in this blog:
- the reading I do about the Underground Railroad
- the reading I do to help me find a road back to myself
- what I learn about improving my diet--I will be aiming for a paleo/gluten-free combo
- the various ways I exercise and improve my fitness
- the gear I plan to take on the tour
For those who don't want to read all this preparation stuff, pick up reading on April 13--the first day of the tour!