Route: Highway 101
Distance: ~45km/28mi [Mostly On A Punctured and Patched-Up Rear Tire – Read Below]
Weather: Mid-Teens, Cloudy and Coastal Fog, Moderate Crosswinds and Headwinds
Terrain: Periodic Climbs with Intermittent Coastal Riding
Breakfast: Banana & Clif Bar
Lunch: Nada [see snacks] Dinner: Pancho’s Restaurante Y Cantina [Brookings, OR]
Snacks: Mixed Nuts Beverages: Water, Two Thirst-Quenching Beers
Previous Night’s Sleep: 3:00am to 7:00am [4 Restless Hours – Read Below]
Swan Dive: I Have No Control [And I Should Feel Fine]
Some days. I’m fortunate to feel an absence of control only on some days. As I tend to write from time to time, I feel I’m more privileged than most. White, male, middle-class, Canadian. Able-bodied and English-speaking. Formally and freely educated from a young age. These are only a few examples of how I live with more gifts of opportunities and choices than most.
As a result of these privileges, I live with more opportunities and choices to feel in control of my life. Often, I do. With that persistent feeling of control, inevitably, I drift into entitlement. Over time, more than feeling control, I believe I have control. It’s mine.
I never have control. Never. I’ve merely been gifted a life of many privileges in which I can feel control in most moments. In reality, though, anything can happen at any given moment. A beautiful and unknowable chaos reigns. An important and embraceable truth I’m still struggling to fully realize.
To be wholly honest, I felt pulled to this kind of adventure because of my desire to feel not in control for awhile. I wanted to feel vulnerable and exposed.
Today, though, I was reminded that I remain tethered to entitlements. As I’ve ventured into feeling vulnerable and exposed, I’ve remained desperate to feel in control over how I’m feeling vulnerable and exposed. Still, I’m not letting go.
Closer to the surface, I’ve committed to pedaling a bicycle down the Pacific coast. Deeper down, I’m expecting – hoping – this experience will make me feel vulnerable and exposed in the ways I expected. I’m bracing for a series of challenges and obstacles I’ve already envisioned. In this light, I’m not ceding control. I’m merely grasping for control in a different way. All this means is I’ve submitted to a twisted form of control, I suppose.
I never have control. I can only feel it…
Today, I learned this important lesson all over again.
Last night, I’d planned to rise early and cross the border into California by early-afternoon. Another notable checkpoint. I felt driven to reach this accomplishment.
Hours later, I remained red-eyed and awake. I couldn’t sleep. For any number of reasons, my mind and body wouldn’t give into a slumber, until three o’clock in the morning.
Four hours later, I opened my eyes wearily. I felt both restless and exhausted. Still, I resolved to hold onto my plan. I pushed on.
Then, an hour into the day’s ride, I rode over a nail. Another unexpected trial. My rear tire quickly ran flat. I pulled over at the nearest opening in the roadside. I removed the nail, patched up my punctured tire, replaced the inner tube, and continued my ride. Still, I resolved to hold onto my plan. Pushed on, man.
One hill later, my rear tire ran flat, again. The winds were cool and strong from the south and west, the air misty with the coastal fog. I was sweaty, cold, and drenched. Quietly cursing the day, I patched up my punctured tire, once more.
When the tire began to go flat a third time and the winds turned directly from the south – headwinds, again – I nearly broke down. Short on sleep, tired from the grind, and worn down from the day’s unexpected challenges. Every pedal on my partially-flattened tire felt like two.
All of these challenges were magnified by my desperation to remain in control. I have to cross the border into California.
Today, my world was crumbling. And, then, it didn’t. All it took was remembering I wasn’t in control. I had to adapt to the circumstances. Such a simple choice.
So, instead of California, I aimed for the next town. Brookings, Oregon. Fifteen kilometres away. Far more attainable. Far less frustrating.
Immediately, I felt better. More comfortable. For the moment, I stopped craving to have control on this small adventure. In its place, I sought to adapt to the circumstances. I accepted my place in the chaos and sought to only feel for control. All I can ever do.
An hour or so later, I arrived in Brookings, accomplishing my altered goal. I was done for the day. My bike was hurting. I felt drained.
Then, my comfort in privilege kicked in.
Amidst a series of unexpected challenges and frustrations, I’d begun to crave a taste of the familiar. To cap off an especially chaotic day, I chose to inhale a deep breath of that sweet, familiar life that’s always within reach for the more fortunate. I fell back into a more expected kind of control. I gave into my cravings.
I pulled out my credit card.
I bought a brand-new tire. I devoured a delicious plate of enchiladas, beans, and rice. I booked a cheap motel room, committing to a full day off my bike. Following two weeks of mostly feeling vulnerable and exposed, I submitted to the familiar and utilized my card-carrying privilege. Could be perceived as a failure or misstep. Maybe, according to my intentions for this trip, this is a failure or misstep.
I feel fine, though. Perhaps, I needed to fall short. Fail. Reach a limit and admit I couldn’t reach further.
In the end, after satisfying my cravings, I believe I submitted to the right choice for the moment. This choice allowed me to commit to a much-needed day off and stop moving long enough to realize this day served three important reminders to carry into the next state:
Reminder One: I am privileged. Every hardship on this ride happens because I was fortunate enough to choose this opportunity. Embrace the challenges, reminders, and lessons. Every moment of this experience stems from my choice.
Reminder Two: I have no control; I can only feel it. [In other words, get over yourself.]
Reminder Three: Life is so incredibly awesome. Stop wallowing and enjoy it to the fullest. Even if that means surrendering to my limits in the moment and giving into my comforts and cravings from time to time. [Just don’t comfort and crave into excess, eh?]