The thing about dreams is that they are wonderful so long as they remain dreams. It’s when you try to realize them that the challenges take shape.
When I first dreamt of this idea to bike through New England, it was while walking Daniel on stretches of the trail I would eventually follow on cool afternoons in the fall. In the dream, I was seeing all the beautiful scenery of coastal New England, I was meeting new people, and I was exploring new places. In the dream, it was a grand adventure.
In the months leading up to the trip, there was lots of training, and while I practiced on my bike, pushing my self to farther distances and hillier courses, I still imagined what the trip would actually be like with eager anticipation.
But a funny thing happened. As the months the initially separated me from the start of my trip dwindled down to weeks and then days, the reality of what I was about to do sank in. There was still excitement, still eagerness to start, and it was mixed with some amount of trepidation, some amount of doubt.
The night before I left, Matt dropped me off in a motel in Greenwich, as he had a funeral to lead first thing in the morning, and I needed to get an early start to make it to my first destination. It had been a busy day as I pulled together all my supplies and got packed up. Rather than feeling relaxed as I prepared to start my trip, I felt a little stressed and worried. I did not sleep well at all.
As I tried to will myself to sleep, I kept tossing and turning as my mind kept asking the question, “Am I really up for this? Did I train enough? Have I bitten off more than I can chew?”
When morning came, I wasn’t feeling much better, but there was nothing left to stand between me and the start of my trip.
So I started biking.
And you know what? Pretty quickly, I started feeling better. As the first few miles passed beneath my wheels, the doubt and fear fell away. My training had prepared me, my gear wasn’t too heavy, I was able to climb the ceaseless hills of CT and keep going. Where there things that I still needed to learn? Of course.
I grossly underestimated how often I needed to snack throughout the ride everyday, and the first few days flirted with low blood sugar a few times, which isn’t the most pleasant experience. I also realized that I needed to be reapplying my sunscreen much more often, as my growing farmer’s tan edged slightly into a sunburn on my third day. And when I got back to Andover for my first feast day, I was able to go through my stuff and leave behind things I really didn’t need to bring with me (who needs a third pair of socks?)
Now that I’m on my sixth day, I can say that I am glad I have begun my trip. Dreams are great when they are dreams. They are even better when they are no longer dreams.