Our day off in Newton has given me time to reflect on the first five weeks of our trip. Five weeks?! It took me 6 months to hike 2000 miles, and I've ridden the same distance in just over a month.
Josh made a very poignant comment yesterday, stating that he "knew this would be an urban adventure." I had the same thoughts as I was climbing Monarch Pass last week, cars flying by me with ease. When hiking, the settings are only accessible by foot, and there is a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in reaching such a destination. It's less rewarding when you stand at an overlook after pedaling for two (or three, or eight) hours, and a car pulls up next to you and out hops a family of five, able to enjoy the same environment effortlessly. Not that there isn't a sense of accomplishment in riding a bicycle up an 11,000-foot pass, but when a place is accessible by everyone, it loses some of its appeal. Cycling does not allow for the solitude that does hiking and in that way becomes more engaging; I am always focused on the road ahead of and behind me, and always looking for road signs and counting miles.
That being said, the mental and physical challenges of long-distance travel have been similar between hiking and cycling. To continually push yourself physically is a mental feat in itself, and to endure discomfort and fatigue becomes a daily routine. My mind had suppressed some of the physical challenges of my thru-hike, wanting only to remember the enjoyment, but enduring similar struggles on this trip has brought them back into my memories. I had forgotten how to ignore an aching joint or tired muscles, but I have quickly recalled those mental techniques!
It blows my mind that we are over half way finished with this trip. The confusion of San Francisco seems so fresh in my mind that it's hard to believe we have traveled through everything in between the Pacific and Newton, but the reality of each day is so obvious that it seems impossible to have not ridden this far. The long distance travel time warp has again overtaken my daily life.
As I mentioned before, it's amazing to see the landscape changes at the speed of a bicycle. The subtle changes between geological features are gradually noticeable as we pedal through the elements, and it's fascinating to see this country under my own power.
I'm excited to see the greenery of the Eastern part of the country as it feels more like home than the desert through which we've traveled. As far as we've come, we still have close to 1800 miles to go!