Writing from Tigard, OR - just south of Portland.
I would be lying if I said I had an easy and enjoyable first day of the tour. It was extraordinary, for sure. As in, out of the ordinary.
Here’s the cliff notes version:
- Spent 4 hours riding in the pounding rain.
- It was cold – well, in the rain at 60 mph made temps in the 50s feel cold.
- It was very windy. With all my bags, the bike got kicked around the road a bit. When it is very windy, it requires more upper body strength to drive the bike.
- Because I waited to leave until I thought the worst of the storms had passed (I was wrong), I missed having dinner with the Slacker Manager. Dang! I was looking forward to meeting he and his wife in person.
- I was wet, cold and fatigued when I got to my hotel, so my dinner came from the only place near the hotel – the Seven-Eleven.
- Bottom line: this was the hardest driving I have done on two wheels.
I am not sharing this to seek sympathy. I learned a few things today.
I learned that I have not done anything very hard recently. Today was hard. It was not reckless, I drove safely – there is a difference between danger and difficulty. I have not been challenged this way in quite some time. The physical challenge is straightforward – the mental challenge is something I can look back on with appreciation.
Self-talk changes reality. Change the way you talk to yourself and you will change your actions and results. I know this and have preached it for years. Today I learned it at a deeper level. It was the conversations I had with myself that enabled me to be proactive in keeping my hands shoulders and legs moving enough so that they did not get too cold or go numb. It was my self-talk that rationally assessed the driving conditions and reinforced my periodic decisions to continue. I could have stopped, but I am glad I did not. Again, just because something is hard and unpleasant does not mean it is dangerous.
And the greatest mental challenge was redefining the experience so that I stayed out of the worlds of right/wrong, good/bad, fair/unfair. Also, I found that I could summons the strength to react calmly.
There were a couple times when I imagined what my response would be if I where in a passing car and saw Hazel and me on the road in the pounding rain. I think I would have thought, “I wouldn’t do that.”
It has been an interesting day. The weather report for tomorrow is very good and I look forward to a nice and easy ride on highway 101 down to Brookings.
Oh, one more thing I learned today. I have packed too much! I need to downsize and ship some stuff home. It’s tough to choose what goes, but something’s gotta go. All the gear adds up to being too heavy and I don’t have room to buy a pack of gum. OK, that’s an exaggeration.