In the spring of 2010, I hopped on my trusted Surly Long Haul Trucker touring bike and pedaled two thousand miles to Taos, New Mexico. I made that 56-day trip in an attempt to sort out a life that was off the rails. Reeling from a business closure in 2009 and the blistering economic recession, I was a man without a plan (at 54 years of age that is not a good place to be). But the beautiful thing about crossing America on two wheels was that it changed my life. Somewhere along the narrow ribbon of asphalt that separated St. Augustine, Florida, from Taos, New Mexico, I found some missing pieces deep down inside of myself . But most of all I learned a really good lesson—that I could do anything I put my mind to.
It’s funny, I was fifty four years old when I learned that lesson. And I will tell anyone who wants to listen, “Better late than never.”
So tonight, I am launching TeatimeOnTheAT, a WordPress blog, to let my friends and friends-to-be, know that I have decided to take another journey. This time the Surly will have to wait patiently (in the garage) for my return, while my feet—and some seriously sexy Salomon hiking shoes—move me farther down the trail, carrying me from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Damascus, Virginia, some 425 miles to the north. I will follow the Appalachian Trail (more commonly known as the AT) in order to get there. I have from September 18th until October 31st to arrive in Damascus, VA, the town that is known as the end of the first of four sections: the Southern Mountains. In total, I shall have forty-four days of hoofing it up and down some of the most rigorous terrain on the entire AT. If I took no days off that would wind up to be a little under 10 miles per day. NAH! Taking no days off? That isn’t going to happen!
Okay, so we will just see how it goes, and everyone who wants to follow along can join in on the fun! One thing that I am planning is to take more time to write—even if that impacts my final destination. I know there are going to be great stories out there just waiting to be uncovered.
If I learned anything on the bike trip it was the incredible sense of community and feelings of support I gained from seeing everyone’s comments at the end of the day. Those comments became the fuel that sustained me, the oxygen I breathed that enabled me to keep pedaling and to ultimately cross the two passes over the Rocky Mountains.
I suppose by now you get what I am up to. I am making it public; I am making that statement that says, Hey MF I am hitting the dusty trail in September and I am heading for Damascus! But as I learned in 2010, if you are going to make the journey, you simply have to do it. You have to call yourself out in front of God and everyone making that declarative statement, and firm commitment, which for evermore puts your sweet ass on the line.
So, thank you, Dear Lord, for the internet because in about five minutes, when I hit the publish button, I will be saying to myself, Okay, Sport, you really can’t back out now without looking like a complete DA. So get the gear together, read the guide books and make plans for September 18th!