What’s Next?

What is life like now that we are back?

Waking up at the Hotel in El Paso felt normal.  We had stayed in many hotels just like this one, so just like our routine we got up, went to breakfast, but that was the end of our normal.  It was the end of our journey, which had not sunken in.  It was the end of being unplugged.  We enjoyed our breakfast with John’s parents and off to the airport we went.  There was a huge storm headed our way and we had to get out of El Paso before the storm hit.

IMG_1263 John and Tashia have a beautiful private airplane they named ‘Meadowlark.” Our bikes fit into the back and soon we were off.  In Denver, our daughter Michelle and best friend John Farnam picked us up.  The hugs were long and powerful.  We did it.  Michelle had called me a Badass about half way through, and for husband John that nickname IMG_1265stuck with me the rest of the trip.  On the particular hard days, he would refer to me as a Badass, and today I actually felt like one.  Many people we had met on the trail, had done a part or a section of the route.  Many we met had decided for whatever reason they should quit.  We finished.

While the next day or two were greeted by more friends and family, as our normal lives started to come back and the normal routine started to kick in, which I planned very slowly, we both had this weird feeling come over us, as if this was all a dream and we never actually went on the ride.  Our bodies adjusted back to normal and the aches and pains went away.  We went to the same restaurants that we normally went to, and our healthy eating got right back on track.

Upon returning, I immediately resigned from three non profit boards.  I have given this thought over the course of the trip, and to make the first big change in how I wanted to live a little less fast paced, resigning from these boards was step one.  Saying no, which doesn’t come easy is step two.  I did what any athlete would do after this long journey.  I joined a new gym.  Orange Theory.  I need that high intensity work out, I need that blood pumping, sweat addictive adrenaline that I get after a great workout.  So I signed up for what I needed!  When I tried to do some research on how to maintain my level of fitness, (without working out for eight hours a day) it doesn’t exist.  All off the endurance workouts and tips I found are for building endurance, not maintaining it.

The first day back in the real world of Denver, I got a massage and facial.  I enjoyed our staff at Share Fair Nation, and just enjoyed visiting people and hearing their stories about the summer.  I felt that we had missed so much, but gained so much.  Michelle was now engaged and we had a wedding to plan.  By Friday we were looking at dresses and enjoying the things that parents of the bride get to enjoy.  Normally after a few days in Denver, we are ready to get up to the ranch.  This time was different.  Neither of us wanted to leave.  We didn’t want to leave our friends, or our family in a great City we enjoy calling home.  So we stayed.  Hurry is something we are trying to give up, and this really only happens once you have been unplugged for a while, or have reached a maturity in age, when it’s ok to slow down, and do what you want to do.

IMG_1303After a few days off the bike I was super hungry to bike again.  Just a tip – don’t bike across the country if you don’t enjoy biking!  I love to bike, therefore getting right back on the bike was easy for me and I couldn’t wait.  When we reached our ranch in Clark CO, where this journey training had begun, I was filled with emotion.  Which path do I ride?  Which bike do I take?  How long should my first ride be?  I decided to do a short ride – two hours.  I left the house and headed straight up 129 (which is the alternative route on the GDMBR). John had a sore on his ass that needed some time to heal, so the first few bikes were on my own.   My mountain bike (the one I use for single track) felt like a feather.  Clipped in, my bike was a huge adjustment to get used to, just like normal life. (I had not be able to turn on my computer after four days home, thinking about the things I might be behind on was as hard to think about as the ride itself, so I left life alone and stayed unplugged).  As I climbed up to Columbine the town, what took us an hour and ten minutes fully loaded on our Surly bikes took me a mere 50 minutes.

IMG_1310Part of the ride that had been so hard for us towards the end, was that the route wasn’t fun.  I missed the fun of biking, which I get from going both up and down on Single track.  So instead of turning around at Columbine, I kept climbing.  This time with a new mission – fun seeker.  Anyone who has mountain biked with me will tell you my ultimate favorite ride is Prospector.  Just a few miles up a dirt road to Hahns Peak, Prospector is not for Sissy LaLa’s.  It is a windy, rocky, muddy curvy slice of single track heaven that is mostly down hill and takes about 12 to 15 minutes.  I refer to it as 15 minutes of biking heaven.  As I made the turn to go downhill I realized how off my timing was on a single track.  I wasn’t used to being on a shorter bike, with different brakes, and clipped in.  When I put some weight on the brakes I nearly went head over.  My back tire came way up and it took all the power I had to force it back down.  I took the curves slower and the rocky sections I actually clipped out and walked.  Could you imagine not getting hurt at all on a trip across the country and then breaking something on my body just up the street from my home?

IMG_1285Our conversations are about how to live more, how to love more, and how to enjoy what we have more.  We decided what’s next for us is to continue the journey – just not so dang hard!  We loved the outdoors and the new routes and people that we met along the way.  We decided an RV with a real plan to take time off would help us not to end the journey across the country, but to keep the journey going.  The journey of teamwork, of depending on each other, the journey of the unknown with unexpected surprises.  So in just 20 days after we finished this huge bike, we have rented an RV and are headed back to one of our favorite places on the trail, the place where our friend Mark didn’t make it.  John asked me if we would bike the Boreas Pass again, and the answer was “heck ya – can’t wait to do it again!”

Today marks two weeks since we have been home.  There isn’t a night we don’t look at the photos and talk about the great memories we had.  There isn’t a time for me at 5PM when I think back about all the times on the trail I told myself “just two more hours, you can do it”.  There isn’t a moment in the 46 days that I regret.  I am forever changed, and I hope to stay in this state of mind for as long as I can.  The best bit of advice I can share with you, is that if you ever have an opportunity to go on your own Journey – TAKE IT.  Life is quick, and if you don’t do it now, you might have regrets.  Don’t let life pass you by, grab the trail of life and live it.  The adventure is waiting for you!  I hope to see you out there!

I look forward to the next journey – Headed to India on a book tour in November, and at this time, we are bringing you along.  For 14 days I will visit 6 major cities, meet with hundreds of CEO’s and thousands of people sharing how “Every Gift Matters”.  I hope you have enjoyed this journey and I hope you will join me in November as we head to India.

  • Nancy Perry

    Thank you for sharing this amazing adventure with you and John. I ached and cried along with you at every dramatic point. I am crying now. I always wondered how you maintained such an incredibly demanding work schedule. I wondered how you were going to handle being “unplugged”. Sounds like you and John have a new outlook on the importance of life and its small pleasures. Your trip has been inspirational to us all.