Today is the day. I can feel the reality of this trip coming to an end and I’m miserable. Miserable because the trip is going to end but also miserable because I don’t want to be riding my bike anymore. No, that’s not true. I do want to ride my bike but I don’t want to continue on a trip where I’m not having fun anymore.
Hannah is ready to ride, but we debate these feelings in the morning and decide we need to take a day off, even if it means being stuck in a bad motel in Martin, TN. We haven’t had a day off since Jefferson City, TN. We find a Walmart nearby and I’m desperate enough to go there and get food. We ride the unloaded bikes to Walmart and get some groceries. It feels very weird to ride the bike without weight and I almost crash three of four times before I get used to the bike again. The day is scalding hot and humid at 10am, and gusty, and the short 2 mile ride to the store feels like a 10 mile ride. I can’t seem to pedal the bike any faster without weight on it than when it has 50 pounds on it. I’m tired.
My enthusiasm has run dry. I think if I could just push on to Arkansas and then rest for a week or two I could get back into the swing of this…but the route there seems discouraging and we don’t really have enough money for lodging…although we do have the time…it’s one thing we definitely have.
We spend the rest of the afternoon discussing our possibilities. We look at renting a car and driving to Fayetteville, AR, taking a break with Hannah’s aunt and uncle and then continuing to bicycle to Omaha, NE. We check car rentals and while I’m on that website I decide to check and see how much it will cost to rent a car to get back to PA. Since the distance is pretty far and we cannot return the car to the place of rental, there is a $700 non-return fee on top of the $300 to rent the car. WHAT?!?!? Yeah, about 1K to rent a car and get back to PA. We search out buses and trains and other rental options but nothing pans out that we can afford AND get the bikes to go back to PA with us without causing a costly, logistical nightmare.
I call my family to talk things out with them and they offer up a plan we can’t really refuse. Since my sister is relocating to Santa Fe, NM and driving out there over the coming weekend, they offer to also drive Hannah’s car down with them. Their route leads them right through the middle of Missouri, and we decide that we can ride our bikes north that far in the next couple of days and can meet them in Farmington Missouri and put the bikes the car.
Hannah finds out that her sister is going to have a major surgery in about two weeks, and her desire get back to Nebraska for this is strong. Her brother and sister in law are also expecting a baby.
So we decided that with a car, we could drive to Fayetteville to visit Hannah’s aunt and uncle as planned, and also get to Kansas City to see her brother, and also drive to Omaha and Lincoln, but saving us time and lots of money, and also allowing us transportation back to Pennsylvania. We will need every dollar we haven’t yet spent for the move to Santa Fe.
It’s had to describe how I feel. Mostly, I feel better because the stress of not knowing what to do is gone but there is also a good deal of disappointment at the trip ending. We’re both sad that we didn’t make it all the way to Fayetteville on the bikes, but the other side of this thought is that we never actually had a real plan or end goal for this trip. If you don’t have an end goal then it’s hard to feel too bad when you don’t get to someplace that wasn’t truly defined in the first place. The end is wherever it ends, and while we may not finish this trip the way we most want, ending the trip to get the car will allow for more options post-trip. Over all, I think the reality is that neither of us want to stop riding our bicycles, but we are also feeling ready to move on to Santa Fe and new jobs and a new place. In the meantime, we still have about 5 days of riding to do and I plan to enjoy them as much as possible!
We spend the rest of the day resting and sorting out emotions and thoughts in our heads. We also plan out the rest of the ride to Farmington, which means we’ll have to ride some longer days to make sure we get there on the same day my family gets there, which is also new for us. After 1500 miles of wandering we’ll now have an end goal and have to work to get to it on time.