I have to confess something. As much as I do love being on a bike, especially my gently used Volpe, and have always loved being on bikes, I’m not obsessed like many bike tourists. I don’t own one of those tiny brimmed hats. I don’t pretend to know much about how to repair bikes although I’m eager to learn since I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands.
But when Jessica first talked about wanting to go on a cross-country bike tour, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. And after watching The Road last night (and having it haunt me all day), I’ve finally really come to the conclusion why.
This is the new American road trip. And you may wonder how on earth a post-apocalyptic film helped me realize this, but it wasn’t the apocalypse I was thinking of – it was the fact that any story that occurs on a road is golden in American culture. Around every bend is the hope for a new and glorious adventure. But on a bike, one is seeing those adventures at the slow pace this country deserves.
As I ponder how I’ll propose my fundraising needs to Kickstarter soon, I feel that this will be my own story’s foundation. What do two women, not quite fresh from university but also not quite settled in, stand to learn from the United States of America? How will our lives change for better or for worse? Certainly, I’m hoping we don’t end up in the horrific scenes of The Road, but I do hope we’ll see more of America than can be imagined from my semi-warm apartment in Boston.
It’s easy to isolate oneself in a community where one is safe and loved. I definitely feel shock every time I’m confronted with American culture that I’ve purposely avoided such as talking with anti-abortionists or extremely testosterone filled men. The road, for me, will expose all of my weaknesses in facing these situations, but it will also highlight my strengths.
As I delve further into the world of bike touring, learning all those things that obsess the hard core, I can see the road in all of their words, excitements and failures. Jessica and I are joining what is becoming a very large group of devoted people. I know we’re in good company too. I also hope that we inspire even more people to join in. Human-powered transportation is the great equalizer, and we’re all off to regain what’s been lost of that romantic ideal. Yeah, I know, it never existed…but that doesn’t mean we can’t strive to make it happen at least once, right?
This is what the American Road movie, book, poem, etc. is all about. Going west to find your fortune, falling along the way, but always pulling yourself up by your bootstraps in the end. Most of all, I believe that our very name, Against the Grind, encapsulates this very idea, for we are doing nothing except to search for a life that shucks the bonds holding one down.
I can’t wait for our (sustainable) road trip, pedaling against the grind.