How does a rider gracefully transition back into a stationary life after numerous months on the road? Everyone tells you how to plan for a bike tour, but no one prepares you for the bewilderment of mind & body once you have completed the trip.
My first few days off of the bike I awoke in a state of confusion. ‘Wait. I don’t have to ride anywhere today? No packing? No hills? No adventure?’. This sudden termination of what had become a habitual state of perpetual motion was unexpectedly exhausting. My body complained, not because it was riding, but because it was NOT riding. I couldn’t sleep. My legs ached. My energy levels fluctuated wildly and suddenly eating the correct amount of food becomes a complicated lesson in advanced biofeedback loops.
Plus, I had a schedule to keep. There were celebrations to attend, countless classroom presentations to complete and community sessions to facilitate. Even though I wasn’t on my bike anymore, I just couldn’t stop moving, doing, talking, scheduling, connecting. It was as if I had replaced my daily 7 hours of pedaling with 7 hours of other activities instead. I heard, “Sara, you just need to chill out.” more than once. All these stressors soon added up and finally last week I found myself sick as a dog, flat on my back and finally sleeping again. It was my body’s automatic reset button, its way of telling me to slow down and adjust to my new reality. Now achieving a non-Tour equilibrium becomes more realistic each day.
My next career step is quickly approaching and I recently accepted a job with the local Health Department in Houghton. I’ll be focused on promoting healthy foods and physical activity in the region’s schools. A perfect fit! I am thrilled to spend a few years giving back to the community that taught me to love bikes, respect nature and embrace adventure.
I think that I have finally readjusted to this new, old existence. But readjustment does not mean leaving the Tour behind entirely. Rather, I carry my memories with me and approach each day, each experience, with an elevated sense of wonder and appreciation. A bike tour does nothing if not teach you to be a lasting student of the world. Opportunities to learn and reasons to smile are truly never ending. I will be forever reminded of this fact each time I conjure in my mind the feeling of the wind in my hair and tires rolling underneath me.
So I suppose that it is not a reassimilation that I seek but a reconfiguration. Of attitude, of priorities, of perspective. Life on a bike and life off a bike are not that different. Regardless of the speed of travel, you just have to open your soul and the world comes rolling up to greet you.