By D.C. Lucchesi
In the hours before I leave out on what will be my longest bike tour to date, I’m staring out over the guest room bed that serves as a staging area for activities such as this. Piles of gear, clothes, and packaged eats form a three-dimensional graph of what will be important to me over the next week. Will one jersey cut it? How about three pairs of shorts? Can’t skimp on socks. Like Lieutenant Dan told Forrest Gump, “There is one item of G.I. gear that can be the difference between a live grunt and a dead grunt. Socks … Try and keep your feet dry.” Sir, yes, sir!
My brother always says he can be ready to go to the moon in 30 minutes. Maybe so. But few lunar voyages require you to schlep your own gear. The heft of a hastily packed bag is a non-issue if it’s just tossed in the trunk. Or wherever they store your luggage on the space shuttle. Serious backpackers and those who tour by bike are as gram-conscious as any triathlete, and have been known to snap toothbrushes in half and pack titanium spoons to keep the load light. I won’t go that far, but I’m willing to whittle it down to just what’s necessary and maybe a bit more. I can leave the iPod but the extra socks and baby wipes are a must. I’ll be carrying all this junk strapped to a bike for the week. It’d had better not just be along for the ride.
Routine showers, meals at home, and your own bed are the sacrifices you make for a week in the outdoors. That’s not the stuff you really miss anyway. In the hustle to get packed and get away, you’re more concerned about the journey ahead rather than those you’ll leave behind. The first few pedal strokes seem like they’re still a long time coming, and I’m anxious, nervous, and excited to begin. And as much as I still can’t believe I have this kind of hall pass, I’m stoked at the prospect of a few days where I’m responsible for only one person. At least in theory, anyway. But as frustrating and demanding as family can be sometimes, that’s what I’ll miss most. Yeah, I’m sure they’ll be pushing and pulling and teasing each other while I’m gone. They’d do that anyway. But they’re great kids. Funny, smart, and healthy. Kathi and I are lucky and blessed.
Like the gemologist with loupe in hand, we’re so close to the people and places in our lives we’re quick to see all their little imperfections. Heck, even the Mona Lisa looks fuzzy up close. Sometimes what we really need is the opportunity to take that look from far away to see how good we’ve got it. I understand not everyone can get an entire week to take a bird’s eye view of their situation. Some of us are just slow learners. A lunch away from work, an early morning to yourself, or a minute or two away from the TV or iPad and we’ll likely all come to the same conclusion. (Although, I’d play that slow learner card if I were you. It bought me a whole week!)
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D.C. Lucchesi runs, rides and writes from Charlotte. When he isn’t planning or participating in his own “next adventure,” the award-winning writer and former television producer can be found freelancing and waxing poetic on subjects ranging from health and endurance to schools and politics. When he’s not volunteering or coaching in some capacity with school-aged kids, he still enjoys interacting with grown-ups. Find him at firstname.lastname@example.org.