Choose Your Own Adventure

The bike always gives us the opportunity to challenge ourselves and grow.  It constantly amazes me how sports can teach us so much about life. Just when I think I know everything there is to know about cycling, it throws me a curve ball, like bikepacking. There are parallels between bike life and real life that foster balance and character development that we find very few other places besides on two wheels. Recently, I went on the trip of a lifetime to explore the Silk Road by bikepacking across Kyrgyzstan. Prior to this trip, I had never camped, and definitely never bikepacked.
Things that only the trip of a lifetime can teach you.1) You need more lives. Don’t let someone tell you that you only have one trip of a lifetime. If that’s the case, I know my spirit animal is a domesticated house cat, and I will have all the lives to have all the trips.  You never know when a trip of a lifetime will surface, but always say yes, within reason. Make time to soak up all this world has to offer with those that matter. The Silk Road might not be like this forever, so I encourage you to go explore places like this while they exist.

2) Teamwork is everything.  I wouldn’t have been able to complete this journey without the help from Specialized, CyclingTips, and Serk Cycling. We needed the right equipment to conquer the rugged terrain, and we needed our guides from Serk Cycling to make the trip as safe and seamless as possible.   We also needed each other on the open road, for moral support, entertainment, and encouragement.

3) Challenge isn’t always physical.  Suffering is glorified in cycling, but it isn’t always about the pain in your legs and your searing lungs. I left this trip more confident in my self-sufficiency and the life skills I attained. Challenge is the opportunity to get better at something, whatever that may be. Accept the challenge to grow and give yourself and others the grace to fail as we continue to build.  
4) You are capable. Whether you have never tried cyclocross, or you want to train for your first century, or want to bikepack the Silk Road. You are capable of so much more than you believe. We have many rules and skills in cycling, that people often use to lord their experience over you. Don’t let that happen. What I love most about gravel adventures is that I can do whatever I set my mind to. Don’t let someone tell you what you can’t do. You are more cable and sufficient that you ever imagined. I mean, I camped and bikepacked!

5) Choose your own adventure.  Adventure doesn’t have to be something wrapped up in a box. You can choose an adventure and goal that inspires you. Don’t let someone else define what adventure or success looks like for you. However, I am so happy that my limits were pushed with this trip and I had an adventure of a lifetime that I never could have imagined. It goes both ways. Adventure awaits.

6) Unplug. Relish the time to be you and to be present. During the trip, we were able to unplug and soak in each day. Granted, without phone service or electricity, unplugging was forced, but it was truly remarkable what we could learn about ourselves and each other by just being present.

7) Bring your own JetBoil. Sharing is caring. I admit I am not always the best with sharing, but I am humbled by the team on this trip that shared their knowledge, JetBoil, and equipment for me to fumble and complain about. Maybe I will bring my own JetBoil next time to not have Andy make me coffee every morning, but these experiences that we share with people are some of the most important moments of our lives.  Don’t hide knowledge, share it.

8) Bring a spork. Always bring a spork.
So, you are all ready for your trip of a lifetime! Take all the lives, and all the trips that you need, even if those adventures are just in your backyard. Take a moment to explore the world without technology and expectations. It is amazing what you can learn if you open yourself up to new experiences and acceptance on the bike.

Where do we go next?
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