Monday, December 29, 2014

Dec 29 (Day 363) - Goodbye open road, hello safety....

As I wrote yesterday, I have at this late stage in the year found all the birds I can realistically find before 2014 expires. As Sonia arrived last night, I will now shift the focus away from bird chasing and towards her. I am also looking forward to the necessarily lighter riding days that will close out the year. However, there was still a bit of remaining riding to be done today to reach my friend's house in Dallas that will serve as our base for the final 2 days of the year. This ride, at exactly 60 miles, would be the last significant one of the year. The riding conditions today were near perfect with smooth roads, clear skies, temperatures in the 40s, and a nice light to moderate southeast tailwind that sped me west. 

60 miles back into the Dallas 'burbs

I will confess to getting a bit emotional towards to end of my ride today. As much as I have complained about the bike this year, I will miss (most of) the time I spent on it. I was able to see an amazing amount of the country in a way that most can only dream of. I was also able to challenge myself in ways that only I will ever fully appreciate. At times the bike felt like an inoperable tumor, and at others it felt like the most beautiful and exciting roller coaster a person could imagine. Such it is with anything worth doing though; There are necessarily going to be difficult and challenging stretches that make you truly appreciate the high points. One of the great things about biking, at least in the way I experienced it this year, is that the goal is very well-defined: Ride the bike from point A to point B. Sure there is an amazing amount that happens along this path, but the goal of traversing this distance is quite simple. As someone who likes having defined goals, I thrived under these circumstances. By achieving each daily riding goal, I was able, with 365 iterations of this model, to more than achieve my birding goals for the entire year. The trick was to break the whole task down into manageable bits. I think this strategy will serve me well during the next phase of the project - book writing.

While I may ride a few miles around the neighborhood tomorrow and Wednesday, I will now finally say that I am incredibly relieved to have survived this year. One of my unofficial goals for this year was simply to make it back as a fully-functioning body. There are so many poor, distracted, and tired drivers on the roads across this country that it is a minor miracle that I was not involved in a really serious accident. Even when I was hit by a car, I walked/rode away without a mark on me. I will say that there were probably 2 handfuls of very close calls with cars/trucks this year. I actually chose not to discuss these for fear of scaring readers, most notably my mom and Sonia. I am sure they were concerned about my safety without actually hearing about the nonsense that goes on out there. Drivers in much of this country have no idea that bikes exist. For select motorists, I can only conclude that they see cyclists as obstacles or impediments to their own progress along the road. How else can I explain the multitude of times cars and trucks missed me by 6 inches on their right even with open lanes to their left? It was as though they were trying to scare me, or just physically push me, off of the road. These close calls don't even count the myriad of other disastrous possibilities. Hitting roadkill, garbage, or a hole/crack in the road could spell disaster. A rock or insect to the face could cause a quick reflex that could send the rider flying. At any point, a momentary lapse of focus could be disastrous, particularly in urban environments. There's just so much that could have gone wrong on the road. I'm not a believer in any sort of 'higher power', but after surviving this year, maybe I should be.....

Lastly, Sonia decided to make a stop at the famous "Cadillac Ranch"along route 66. As this art installation is designed to be ever evolving, Sonia decided that Biking for Birds should be a part of it, even if it only temporarily. She's the best!


9 comments:

  1. It has been a joy following along with you this year. Huge congratulations to you on this amazing accomplishment!!

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  2. An amazing job Dorian. It's been a pleasure to have been there every step of the way with your blog and keep up with this amazing accomplishment. Hope you keep up with the blog!

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  3. Major props, Dorian, for an amazing and courageous year. It's been a pleasure and honor for my son and I to follow every day. Hope to see back in Mass soon! Safe trails.

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  4. We arrived late to your birding year, but have stayed with your amazing ride the rest of the way. Looking forward to the rest of your journey as you make your way home. Hello to Sonia!

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  5. We met in Everett, WA during your "locked yourself out without your cellphone" adventure, I been following your journey ever since! AWESOME ACCOMPLISHMENT and so much more, all the best as you figure out what's next in 2015!

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  6. Congrats on your big big big year! Unbelievable accomplishment! I've looked forward to each day's post everyday of 2014. Thank you for providing a great deal of entertainment for me all year. You've inspired me to step up my birding game this year as well.

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  7. Absolute Legend. Best blog and best adventure ever. Have read every day and will do a minor version in Sweden this coming year, just out of inspiration from this.

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