Coping with the Solitude

Part three in the series "America at 10 MPH"

My first night camping alone I set up camp in the dark and went to bed.
It was already dark when I pulled in, so I set up camp in the dark and was out like a light.

One of my biggest fears going into my cycling trip across the country was that I wouldn’t be able to handle the solitude. I knew the days would be filled with countless, desolate miles of pedaling, but I was worried about how my mind would cope after the day’s ride when I was alone camping.

After my first night alone in the woods, I knew it wasn’t the nights I had to worry about. The day’s ride would had me so worn out I was begging for a bed. It was lights out as soon as my head hit the towel. I didn’t bring a pillow, for space saving reasons, but a wadded up towel worked the same.

*And everyone knows the most important item a hitchhiker can carry is a towel.

When morning came on the third day, the loneliness crept in. My mind was still partly asleep and my body was stiff and sore from the previous day. My knees ached and thoughts of home filled my head. I didn’t want to get on a bicycle again. It was easy to overwhelm myself with thoughts about how isolated I was from everything, with nothing but a few bags and a bicycle. More than once I wondered if I had gotten in over my head. Maybe I wasn’t cut out for a life of adventure.

I broke through the angst with a phone call home, some breakfast and a shower at the campsite bathroom that was included with my fee. The morning was starting to turn around and I was about ready to break camp and load the entirety of my possessions back onto the bicycle when I noticed that my tire had gone flat overnight. The flat-tire predicament had been continuously plaguing my trip and something had to be done. I decided that I would take a day off to see if I could determine what was causing my incessant flat problem and give my untrained body a chance to recover.

Camp showers are great for making you feel better
All campsites should come complete with running water and showers. A shower always helps make you feel better

All of the knowledge I had of fixing flat tires had come from watching YouTube videos, and my ignorance left me feeling inadequate to fix the situation. I checked the inside of the tire for sharp objects and felt along the rim to see if there was anything there that was causing it to deflate. I turned up nothing. I speculated and wondered a number of different things that might be the culprit, but after investigation I always came up short. After finding no discernible problem, I patched the tire again and inflated it, hoping that it was all just a very bad streak of luck that was over now.

A test ride into town with the bike not loaded down with 75 pounds of equipment was refreshing. I felt nimble, I wished this was what it was like as I was making my daily rides. I felt like I would be able to ride twice as far.

I picked up some food in town and explored the area a little bit. I had set out on this trip because I wanted to see things, but had become so concerned with flat tires, self-doubt and coping with the solitude that I was forgetting to enjoy the experience.

Continued on next page



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