15 comments


  • I was just having a conversation about this with a co-worker.

    He rides a bike for enjoyment and will take rides up hills and doesn’t want to suffer.

    I argue that you get more enjoyment from the suffering. It is the suffering that makes you realize what you have done.

    Embrace the suffering!

    February 18, 2010
  • Shawn

    Well said… well said. Thanks for the poignant description of your experiences.

    February 18, 2010
  • George

    Now there’s a nice line, “…we are in the large classroom of Life sitting in the front desk.”

    Thanks for the blog.

    February 18, 2010
  • Brian

    Russ & Laura,

    Thank you for continuing to share. And not just the pretty scenery, but the mental interplay of questions one can probably never answer with full confidence.

    As someone that’s planning my own voyage, though admittedly as an escape from a life I wish to no longer associate myself with, I find great value in hearing the less romantic side of the adventure, the occasional reality check (doesn’t everyone that has money think it’d be better without) and the reaffirmation of mankind by way of the connections you’re making with some great people on your journey. You’ll surely never say “I wish I would have” and probably always say “I’m glad we did.”

    Pedal onward!

    February 18, 2010
  • This reminds me of the Ortolan story on This American Life (it’s on episode 343) where writer Michael Paterniti describes eating Ortolan (where you eat the entire bird, which has been drowned in cognac, while holding a napkin over your head).

    This is from his written account in Esquire:

    “Here’s what I taste: Yes, quidbits of meat and organs; the succulent, tiny strands of flesh between the ribs and tail. I put inside myself the last flowered bit of air and Armagnac in its lungs, the body of rainwater and berries. In there, too, is the ocean and Africa and the dip and plunge in a high wind. And the heart that bursts between my teeth. It takes time. I’m forced to chew and chew again and again, for what seems like three days. And what happens after chewing for this long–as the mouth full of taste buds and glands does its work—is that I fall into a trance. I don’t taste anything anymore, cease to exist as anything but taste itself.
    And that’s where I want to stay–but then can’t because the sweetness of the bird is turning slightly bitter and the bones have announced themselves. When I think about forcing them down my throat, a wave of nausea passes through me. And that’s when, with great difficulty, I swallow everything.”

    On the This American Life segment, he talks about how hard it is to eat regular meals after this:

    Michael Paterniti: it takes a lot of energy and concentration when you really taste a meal. it takes concentration, and silence…

    Ira Glass: it’s almost as if you are saying if we were really awake to what the world was giving us in a given meal, it would be hard to eat the meal every single time.

    Paterniti: Yeah, I think we would, I feel we would age really quickly.

    Glass: But you’re saying that we have to deaden ourselves in order to live.

    Paterniti: I think we do; I don’t think we make enough time to eat, and if we haven’t made enough time to eat, then it’s better not to taste what we are eating. It’s easier.

    So yeah. I think it’s just part of our biology that, in order to be totally present at any one time, we have to be totally displaced, mostly NOT there, most of the rest of the time.

    February 18, 2010
  • ha1ku

    One of my best motivators for a ride is knowing that a meal is waiting for me at the destination 🙂

    I also want to comment that your stories are getting better and better over time. I think this might have to do with perhaps a transformation that you two are experiencing on your journey.

    February 18, 2010
  • Yoshiyahu, that’s SO strange how you brought that TAL story up. That is one of my all time favorite TAL episodes 🙂

    Yes…definitely like that

    Russ

    February 18, 2010
  • Dustin

    If your heading through Marathon, TX and wanting to a have the feel of South Congress in Austin a little early you should think about staying at – http://www.evesgarden.org/

    February 18, 2010
  • I just recently have been reading your wonderful blog. I saw it in the online Current-Argus and have followed it since. I saw your video Thrus. night from Van Horn; enjoyed it! I am sharing your journey with my 7th grade students here in Texas and they also love it. You are an inspiration, maybe even more so than the Winter Olympics so am very happy for you both!

    Rick

    February 20, 2010
  • hi russ and laura… great post. i have been catching up on your travels when i can. this one i particularly enjoyed as it brings back so many of my thoughts from our tour on life and choices, how the mind and attitude plays into our perception of suffering in all it’s varying degrees. thanks for putting it into words so well. happy travels and be safe and well, missy

    February 20, 2010
  • Kim Roser

    Thank for sharing the not-so-pleasant realities of your journey. Those of us who fantasize about escaping our realities rarely think about the unpleasant parts (or can imagine them).

    February 21, 2010
  • Hey there Missy! Hope things are going well there in Eugene. We like to look back at the photos of you guys and remember warmer times!

    It is amazing how much suffering is mental as well as physical. It’s amazing when we look back at the beginning of our trip. We’ve certainly gotten a little stronger, but our tolerance for discomfort has increased as well 🙂

    Thanks again for hosting us and hope Isadora is doing well.

    February 21, 2010
  • Brandon

    “aren’t we living the dream?”

    If that’s a jar of Nutella in her hand, then I’d say yes, yes you are.

    March 09, 2010
  • […] 21 Reasons You Should Quit Your Day Job And Travel The World 59. The Great Fear 60. “D” is for Displacement61. 10 Minimalist Travel Tips62. Simplicity on a Bike63. What I Have Learned on The Road64. Rest and […]

    April 23, 2010
  • YES!
    Part of the reason the good is so good, is because we know what the bad is like, too.
    We sing while we ride tough spots. That can be really hard on hills, but great in the rain or wind. One of my suggestions to aspiring bike tourists is to learn some songs together, so you can sing when it’s tough. Sometimes one of us will sing, sometimes the other, sometimes both.
    Or I count in German. That works wonders for hills. When I get to five – funf – Joshua inevitably says ‘that’s not a real word!!!’

    February 26, 2011

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