2015 Overview 




 First thing that comes to my mind is that this was the first X-country trip out of the five attempts that I’d not finished - in the same summer in which I started it. So that in itself is not pleasing to me, especially when I’ve had this thing wrapped around me like a second skin for the last several years. Just getting finality to American Dirt was going to be a massive burden off of my shoulders. Yet today I’m faced with the fact that I’ve got to get my game face back again for another month in order to complete the project in 2016. My savings grace is that I’ve already completed 10.75 of the 13 states, so the daunting nature of what lay ahead of me this past May, that will not be present this May. 

But my mood perks up when I compare 2015 to my unsuccessful 2012 American Dirt attempt, where I did make it to the Pacific Ocean. Looking at it that way, this year was a stunning success. I mean I had to throw in the towel and start riding asphalt in 2012 back when I was in Athens, OH for goodness sake, and I’d started in Washington, DC. This year, hell, I started in DE, and I took this thing all the way to Lynndyl, UT. And quite honestly I’d be stunned if I had even 100 miles of asphalt riding last summer. I think, just off-hand, I’ve counted like 80 miles asphalt miles in I don’t know how many thousands of miles of travel. So that in itself pretty much quelled my disappointment in not completing the whole trip in 2015. From that standpoint alone I’m pretty damned proud of what we accomplished.

Last year as we were driving home to Ohio, somewhere east of Grand Jcn, CO, I was thinking of good comparisons from my past athletic life to what I’d just experienced with American Dirt in 2015. And my immediate thought went back to when I did my first few marathons in the 1980’s. When I’d gotten done with marathon #1 and #2, I still have visions of myself resting on the ground just beat to hell, sore and tired, swearing up and down that I’d NEVER do another marathon - NEVER. And then the very next day, as if I’d just experienced a split personality moment, I was raving about how I wanted to do it again, to try to do better, to get back on the horse so to speak and ride that puppy all the way to the finish line yet again. So on the drive back east through Grand Jcn., I was wondering if I’d get that same feeling in 2016, feeling like I wanted to pick it up again and go for it. Well, I can definitively say that I do! And I know this feeling will grow and flourish as the clock ticks down again to the start…er…the restart of American Dirt in May of 2016. 

As I mentioned in 2015 blog, I’d definitely lost my zeal, my mojo, after I’d completed that Salina to Filmore mountain segment. I think that was my immediate post-marathon #1 and #2 moment of the trip. That day really took a lot out me emotionally as well as physically. And the last thing I wanted to do was to get back on the horse again when I exited that mountain range. It was the focus of my concentration for nearly a week, knowing what a day that would be to complete. And once I got done, sore, beaten and tired, once I rode out of that Chalk River Valley and threw my bike in the van for the end of the day, I think I’d just used up all I had left in the tank. Didn’t know it at the time, but I was a different person for the following Wednesday and Thursday. Judy noticed it, but I didn’t. I just wasn’t there anymore with respect to my drive and  enthusiasm. I’d checked out that Tuesday afternoon at 2 PM. 

I’m sure some of this loss of drive also revolved around the fact that I knew I would not finish the trip that summer, and suddenly those last couple rides seemed so insignificant. That blessed end point - the finish line - was just NOT there looming on the horizon like it had in the past for me. Without that finish line, that dangling carrot right in front of my face luring me on like a siren song, those last few rides just seemed so absolutely empty & without purpose. That’s why I pulled the plug a few days early. I just couldn’t see doing any more of this thing without the eye of the tiger mentality. I needed the reflection, the re-examination, and the recharging of my attitude so I could finish strong. 

I had to go over that massive archive (two nearly full terabytes) of video and still photos to truly appreciate what we’d done. Now that’s not so I could pump myself up like an egomaniac, nor to pat myself on the back so hard as to dislocate my shoulder, I’m not that vain. No, it’s more to silently savor the challenges that I was able to endure. Those of you who know me understand that I prefer the quiet and confident approach to athleticism. To me, just knowing that I did it is THE penultimate reward for doing it. I don’t need the pub., I don’t need the glad-handing, and I don’t need the ego crap. It’s that simple. So for me, just being able to sit at my desk on a cold winter’s day and go over all those photo and video moments by myself, looking at so many of those challenging days, that’s when I really get to appreciate the effort I'd put in that summer of 2015. 

Finally, I’d like to take a moment to thank all of you who have supported us throughout the past couple of years. The list is long. You don’t know how much this has meant to us as we’ve pushed this trek forward from conception to actuality. Wether it be monetary  or simple well-wishes, having you guys out there cheering us on all this time, you just don’t know how awesome that is for the psyche. I can tell you for real how important that’s been over the years of me doing these crazy trips. There’s been moments of despair, both in this trip and in prior trips, that I’ve leaned on this one crucial phone call or email that just inspired the hell out of me to keep pushing on through the bad times - not just for me, but for you guys to! 

I feel like you guys out there are as invested in this as I am, and I take that very seriously. There have been times when Judy’s kind of gotten peeved at me for my insistence in getting the blog done asap after a day’s ride. And my reply to her has always remained the same: The blog is my repayment to all the people who are so faithful with respect to their interest in what I’m doing. I owe it to them to keep them informed, to try to put them in my shoes, where I can share my senses with them, all the sights, the sounds, the smells, and even the thoughts that I experience in a day’s ride. To me, that’s a big deal! And I can’t thank you all enough for your patronage.