Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Learning Curve

So, it's been 11 days on the road, and I finally feel like I'm in my rhythm. They talk about how it takes time to get in the flow on a bike tour. They talk about all the changes your body goes through. They talk about losing sleep in the beginning. They talk about trying to maintain your weight.

They say all these things, but I am slowly and surely figuring them out for myself as I go along. There is a learning curve.

I have wanted to do more documenting via blog, but truthfully at the end of each day I have been so thoroughly exhausted (mentally/physically) that I haven't been able to muster up the energy to write too much. I am still in the process of figuring out how to balance all of the constant output (biking, teaching, biking, teaching), but now I am finally sleeping and am feeling stronger and more revitalized.

Last week I received an email from someone asking me to shed light more about the biking aspect of the tour (how I am feeling, where I am staying, etc).

It's funny...I feel so focused on the yoga aspect that I nearly forget about checking in with this other crazy thing I'm doing: biking down the country.

So it's been 11 days since I've left Philly, and I've officially biked about 335 miles, which is about 280 miles more than I usually bike in that amount of time. I'm currently in Richmond, Virginia. 

In this short amount of time, there's been a good deal of rain and snow, and although I am now further south, it is still brisk and cold. In fact, it was colder today than when I left Philly 11 days ago.

In the world of cycling, I am a "noobie." It was just 4 months ago in November that I learned how to ride a bicycle with gears, and it was only a couple of weeks ago that I learned how to ride a bike with clip less shoes. Training before the tour wasn't really an option because of all of the snow we had. I kind of just got up and went. Have I mentioned there's a learning curve? And sometimes I am learning the hard way.

Riding a bike is more than just transporting to a destination; it's a total immersion; it's a meditation. It requires all of your focus and all of your determination. It requires a tuning in to the senses. It requires direction. It requires stamina. And perhaps most of all, It requires a present moment awareness. But it also, surprisingly, requires surviving.

In the beginning of tour, I had a 70-mile ride to Forest Hill, Maryland. It took me 7 hours. There was snow. It was cold. The entire ride was through rural areas of southern Pennsylvania/northern Maryland. And there were little to no resources available. 

See, I'm a city girl, and just generally speaking I have the luxury of always having access to water. It's easy. But when you're biking through the country and going through 30 mile stretches without a gas station or single store, well, it can become a bit frightening. You have to switch your priorities from getting to your destination and instead set out to look to refill your empty/near-empty water bottles. 

When I was riding to Forest Hil, I encountered this very situation. There was nobody on the roads, no buildings in sight, and I was on my last water bottle. Knowing I hadn't seen anything in awhile, and not knowing when I would again, I decided to actively pursue looking for water (and a recharge for my phone which was nearly dead). 

I biked down long stretches of road, no longer en route to my destination, and I finally saw a building which looked promising in the distance. I biked towards it, feeling excited about the prospect of filling up on water and maybe even stopping for a snack.

But when I got up to the building close enough to read the sign, I saw one word which devastated me. That word was: "Fireworks"

Fireworks? In the middle of nowhere? There's been no buildings for miles, and this place sells...fireworks. 

Defeated, I biked back down that same road and went to search for something again. By this point in time, I've become hyper-focused on finding water, enveloped in my own panic. Not even sure whether there was a true need to panic, but not being experienced enough to know for certain. 

I soon came to a gas station and refilled on water, feeling utterly relieved. I have since learned to plan my rides better, always making sure there will be access to food and water.

Some days are so painful, or the climbs are so steep, or the rain is so hard, or I get lost what feels like 100 times, and I feel like giving in. And at the end of those days I truly cannot imagine getting on my bike again the next day and doing it all over again. But something pulls me back together again by the morning.

This experience is wild and crazy and difficult and beautiful and new and exciting and terrifying and lonely. All at once. And I am better by it and for it.

I am in this for the long haul, and I am so grateful for this incredible experience of being able to move my body across the country. And I have been so blessed (and spoiled) to have a place to sleep, eat, shower, do laundry, etc every night of the tour.

Which is why I don't actually feel like I am doing this alone. And why I no longer see the yoga and the biking as two separate things; they are a part of a continuum. There is no separation.

Here are some pictures from the tour thus far. Thanks for sharing in this journey with me...


  1. We're all very proud of you Kristen! You are amazing!!!

  2. Oh the water issue! I remember on my first long tour how nervous and obsessed I could become if I didn't have at least one full bottle. I love reading this blog, thanks Kristen!