#brompton

First practice trip: Corvallis!

This weekend I embarked upon my first bike/train “practice trip” for my tour. On Saturday morning, I hitched up the trailer to the Brompton, with a suitcase inside, and headed down to Portland’s Union Station. The ride was about four miles, and in that time I got sprinkled on and decided to add the rain cover to the trailer (first time I’ve done that) and also realized just how heavy my backpack was. Normally, I’m one of the rare cyclists who actually prefer a backpack to panniers, but this time, with my lock and laptop in it as well as two full water bottles, my aching shoulders decided that I would stow it in the trailer for the “real” trip later in the day. (As well as, presumably, the real “real trip.” My practice-trip lessons had begun!) 

At the station, I wheeled over to the baggage area, where I soon found myself in a conflict with the two attendants about whether I would need to pay a $10 baggage fee for the trailer. When I had taken a pre-practice trip just to the train station a couple of weeks ago—expressly for the purpose of talking to the baggage attendant about all the logistics and fees of carrying the Brompton and trailer on various Amtrak trains—she had helpfully explained to me that if I removed the wheels from the trailer, it would be considered regular baggage, and I could check it at no charge. These two men on Saturday, though, insisted that any “bike trailer” was subject to a $10 fee. I told them I was willing to pay it if I needed to, but I felt frustrated because the other employee had told me clearly that I wouldn’t have to. After going back and forth several times, I agreed to pay it; no need to have a big conflict over such a small issue. As soon as I agreed to pay, though, one attendant seemed to reconsider: “Well, I don’t care that much about it. If she told you it was no charge, I won’t charge you.”

Nice!

I enjoyed the scenic train ride to Salem—a very familiar route to me from my prison-visiting days—but noted with some concern the rain that began falling soon after boarding. I really don’t enjoy riding in the rain if I can avoid it.

When I disembarked, the sky had turned to an off-and-on drizzle, and I put the rain cover back on the trailer and headed out to Infinity Room to grab the lunch I had ordered online from the train. When I arrived, I was struck that it was much more complicated to lock up my bike and go into a building with the trailer attached. I had my suitcase in it, and the trailer is not lockable by itself. For this particular stop, I trusted that it would be very quick, so I just grabbed my backpack out of the trailer and dashed in after locking the bike. There was a woman standing just outside the restaurant, and I asked her to keep an eye on it for me, which she graciously agreed to do.

Once I got in, I encountered another small obstacle: the food was packed in a cardboard clamshell, placed inside a grocery-sized brown paper bag. There was no way that would fit in my backpack, and I was concerned that if I tried to put it in the trailer, it might leak onto my belongings. I asked if they had a plastic bag available to secure the container. I avoid plastic whenever I can, and I believe that Salem has banned plastic to-go bags like Portland has, which is a good thing. But… in a situation like this, I had to admit it would be very handy. One of the employees went into the back to check, and returned with a small white plastic trash bag.

Perfect! Problem solved: I swapped out the grocery bag for the filmy plastic one. When I got back to my bike, I appreciated a new aspect of the trailer: a horizontal food package like that fits easily within it, whereas if I’m biking with just my backpack, it’s not workable.

I continued on my way, to Salem’s Riverfront Park, to enjoy the meal at a covered picnic table. The food hit the spot. (Definitely stop by Infinity Room if you’re ever in Salem: it’s the only all-vegan restaurant in town, and it’s run by wonderful people!)

After lunch, I managed to maneuver the bike and trailer into a restroom right near the table, too: what a blessing to have a restroom large enough to fit it all in (even if it did appear only borderline-sanitary.) I have definite concerns about the time, effort, and security issues involved in making rest stops along my journey.

I left the restroom—had to ask someone to help me hold the door open while I backed out the whole contraption—and refilled my water bottle.

I was ready to begin!

And then… two nearly simultaneous snafus threatened to ruin the trip before it began:

I had been looking forward to taking a scenic route out of Salem through Minto-Brown Island Park. I had visited this large nature park a couple of times before, and thought it would be a much nicer option than Hwy 22, which was Google Maps’ other recommended route. Minto-Brown connects to the riverfront park via a recently constructed bike and pedestrian bridge.

But… as I approached the bridge, I saw a barricade: “Closed for construction.”

What?? No!!

I looked through the gate toward the bridge, and saw people walking on it. Were they scofflaws? Danger seekers? Or, perhaps there was another way of accessing the bridge? Another entrance?

I started walking the bike and trailer around to see if I could find another entrance. I thought I did find one… but it was similarly barricaded.

Ugh!! Was I going to have to take extra time to make it over to Hwy 22 now?

But that soon became the least of my worries. As I turned the bike and trailer around after seeing the second barricade, my trailer came unhitched.

What? How does that happen? This seems dangerous…?

I tried to reconnect the hitch. I couldn’t, because it had somehow become twisted around such that the connector wouldn’t fit on the ball on my bike.

Stymied.

Stress level rising.

A group of adolescent boys who had been talking nearby walked over, and one of them kindly offered to help. I appreciated the offer, and showed him my rig (he was duly impressed) but he left just as stumped as I was. He apologized for not being able to help, and they walked on.

I felt a twinge of desperation, but then found myself remembering a recent conversation with a dear friend, who has been following my adventure while taking one of her own. She had recently encountered a seemingly scary, “stuck” situation while on the road. She consciously chose to take a moment to relax and center herself, trusting that things could and would work out somehow. And as if by magic, as soon as she did this, her seemingly hopeless situation did indeed resolve itself quickly.

I thought, This is the same thing for me. I’m going to relax a moment, and count my blessings. (The sun has come out! I still have plenty of time. My hosts, Judy and Jeff, have made me a standing offer to come and rescue me in their car if I need it.) Then I will brainstorm solutions. There are always solutions.

I texted Judy, to let her know about these two apparent obstacles and the resulting delay. She reiterated her offer to pick me up. I thanked her, but declined: No way was I going to just quit this journey before even starting! If the situation turned more dire, I could reconsider.

My next step was to call Freedom Folding Bikes, in Boulder, Colorado, from whom I had purchased the trailer. They are the sole US distributor of the Dutch-built Radical Design Chubby trailer. Chuck, the store owner, answered the phone immediately, to my relief. I told him I was in need of some “tech support,” and hoped he could help. I explained the situation, and he seemed to immediately understand. He asked if I was calling from an iPhone.

Yes.

“OK, let’s switch to FaceTime, and I’ll show you what you need to do.”

Whoa, the marvels of modern technology!

We switched over the call seamlessly—no need to even hang up—and he flipped his camera to show me his in-store demo model of the bike, trailer, and hitch. He showed me what I needed to do, which was to twist the bar to partially unscrew the end of it. I hadn’t even realized the end screwed in; I thought it was connected permanently, immovably.

Sadly, I didn’t appear to have the strength to twist it effectively. But he assured me that this was the only solution, so I thanked him, hung up, and surveyed the scene to find someone stronger to help.

My eyes fell upon a young couple in the parking lot straight ahead of me, unloading their bikes from an SUV. I tentatively approached them and asked if they could help with a bike problem. They agreed, so I sighed with relief and showed them the situation. The young man seemed to barely lay his hands on the connection and immediately loosen it. I was somewhat mortified, in a pickle-jar kind of way, but mostly, jubilant about this progress! I thanked them both profusely, and told them I was on my way to Corvallis as a part of a larger bike journey around the country.

The young woman’s eyes lit up. “Corvallis? That’s where I’m from! My whole family lives there!” She insisted on giving me her phone number: “If you need anything at all while you’re there, my relatives would be happy to help!”

I was so touched. This is the magic of the road, the journey, isn’t it? People really want to help if they can.

I handed her my business card with my blog’s URL on it in case she wanted to follow the journey (Rachel, if you’re reading this, thank you and your sweetie again!) and we parted ways.

I hopped on the bike with the now-attached trailer, and slowly began pedaling toward the other side of the park, where I could connect with Hwy 22.

Except! As I passed the barricaded path again, I saw that just beyond my previous field of vision was the actual entrance to the bridge. Hallelujah!! Those two barricaded gateways were actually leading to a very specific area of the park, adjacent to the bridge but not the path to it.

Like magic.

So I scaled the ramp, took a photo of the silvery bridge, and rode off into a beautiful field of wildflowers at the entrance to Minto-Brown. It was the perfect way to finally begin the journey.  

The rest of the 38-mile ride was mostly beautiful. The early sprinkles gave way to sunshine and mild temperatures, and although I didn’t appreciate the slight headwind that seemed to keep me company for most of the trip, the scenery more than made up for it: lush pale-green fields and early-summer trees, including many beautiful oaks.   

At long last, after four hours and 45 minutes, as the temperature was starting to drop and the light just starting to wane, I pulled my spent body and rig into the driveway of Judy and Jeff’s beautiful house and garden.

They were lovely and gracious hosts, and I enjoyed a relaxing shower and a wonderful home-cooked meal, and managed to stay lucid enough for a couple of hours of conversation about bicycling (they are avid cyclists) and traveling, before turning in to a comfy bed for a good night’s sleep.

The next morning, Sunday, we awoke in a leisurely fashion and enjoyed some oatmeal with a dizzying array of toppings, then hopped in their car for a brief tour of Corvallis, including First Alternative Natural Foods Co-op for some food and treats for my return trip (I always love to visit a local co-op wherever I travel) and a lovely small island that felt very reminiscent of Sauvie Island, just outside of Portland.

After I bade them farewell, my 13-mile bike ride to the Albany train station went smoothly, with more beautiful scenery along Hwy 20. I serendipitously avoided a brief rain shower toward the end of the trip by pulling over for lunch on a rock under a tree in a wooded park just before the train station. The boughs of the large old tree managed to shelter me entirely from the rain, much to my delight. I hopped back on the bike just as the rain stopped.  

At the station, the attendant cheerfully checked the trailer as no-charge baggage, without incident.

This first practice trip was exactly what I needed: Enough beauty, pleasant weather, and warm conversation to remind me why I want to do this for a year, and enough challenges to keep my expectations realistic and give me some opportunities for learning and growth.

Next month: Seattle!

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a fairy godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)

This summer’s three bike trips!

You all, I’m so excited! Everything keeps falling into place, and it’s reminding me how powerful it is for me to hold a beautiful vision—strongly yet lightly—and to allow the pieces to put themselves together, with just a few gentle nudges from me.

As I’ve been preparing to embark upon an entire year of bicycling around the continent… and thinking of how my current bicycling practice consists mainly of a 3-mile-each-way commute to my workplace four days per week… I’ve thought it would be a good idea to do a few “practice trips” this summer, to give myself more time in the saddle, more experience with the trailer, more practice with loading the bike and trailer onto different kinds of transit vehicles, and more outreach to potential hosts.

So, this past week I have put together two such practice trips, and the magic of my vision has been showing up in spades!

One wonderful serendipity: Amtrak’s 50th anniversary, on May 1st. To celebrate, the company offered 50% off fares for one week, which was perfect for me. I booked two trips, both splitting my time between bicycling and Amtrak: Corvallis, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.

I have a wonderful and amazing friend in Corvallis who had offered to host me, not just on my actual trip in September, but on a summer practice trip as well. I’m so looking forward to spending a couple of nights with her and her partner, both of whom are avid cyclists (and recently vaccinated). And, I’ve never spent any time in Corvallis, save for a two-hour evening event at Oregon State University a few years ago, so I’m looking forward to exploring and experiencing a new city, as well. I’ve heard great things about Corvallis.

My sister and her partner, also both cyclists, live in Seattle. (Several years ago, they spent the whole month of May bicycling around a very rainy Germany.)

I had initially thought to bicycle the whole 200-mile distance to Seattle—over the course of four days—and then take the train back home. However, I realized that would take more time than I wanted, and would be more physically rigorous than even my main trip will be, with 50+ mile days every day, and no rest in between. As I searched for lodging hosts all along the way, too, I ran into some gaps.

I reminded myself that a key part of my vision for this journey is to gently challenge myself while prioritizing ease, flow, beauty, and joy. (Some bicycle tourists are motivated by pushing themselves physically. I am not.)

So, I realized that I could use the train to make things more pleasant and joyful.

I will take the Amtrak Cascades train to Olympia, Washington, and then bicycle from there to Tacoma, arriving mid-afternoon, just in time to visit one of my favorite restaurants, Quickie Too. (If you ever find yourself in Tacoma, please do yourself a favor and stop at this restaurant! They are a wonderful Black-owned vegan sandwich shop, and their food is truly amazing. In fact, when I found out they were closed on Thursdays, I moved my whole itinerary back a day to make sure I wouldn’t miss out!)

I needed a place to stay in Tacoma, so I made my first outreach to a Warmshowers host. I searched the map, and found four hosts within a few blocks of the restaurant. They all sounded like interesting people, but I was especially drawn to one particular house of vegetarians. I sent a message explaining my trip, and received a prompt warm welcome of a reply from the host, saying they would love to have me on that date! I had been a bit nervous to reach out to strangers on this new-to-me platform, so this was a wonderful reassurance that I was on the right track.

I needed to continue on to Seattle, and I looked at Google Maps bike directions to puzzle out my best route. During this time, I talked to my sister on the phone, and she checked with her partner, who had recently biked between Tacoma and Seattle. He strongly suggested going through Vashon Island, rather than paralleling I-5; the scenery would be dramatically better, if I could stomach a few more hills.

I have never been to Vashon Island, but this recommendation reminded me that I have another incredible friend who lives there. I had been out of touch with her for some time, but I reached out with an email to see if she might like to meet up for tea.

To my surprise and delight, she also replied almost immediately, and insisted that I stay with her and her husband for the night! I had been contemplating whether to try to find lodging on the island for the night, or to press on and try to make Seattle in one day. Her offer made my decision easy, and I think I will appreciate it, given all the hills between Tacoma and Seattle.

That friend—who has not owned a car since 2008, and who told me she has biked around Europe three times(!) picking up litter all along the way(!)—said she would meet me in town and give me a bike tour of the area, before we headed up to her house for the evening. I’m so excited!

The next day, I’ll take the ferry over to Seattle, and head the rest of the way to my destination with my sister and her partner. I’ll spend two nights and one full day with them, and then leave on the Amtrak Coast Starlight train back to Portland. The Coast Starlight—unlike the regional Cascades train I’ll take on the way up—is a long-distance, Superliner train. It is more luxurious, and I love taking it any chance I get. It runs daily between Seattle and Los Angeles.

Taking both types of trains will give me an opportunity to practice loading both the bike and the trailer into different types of luggage compartments. In fact, I plan to take a pre-practice trip just to the Amtrak station in Portland sometime soon, with my bike and trailer in tow, to talk to a baggage attendant in person and ask how best to prepare for this. (When time is of the essence on a trip, there is little margin for error or uncertainty. I don’t want to be stressing about missing a train or having any luggage snafus.)

The Corvallis trip is in June; Seattle is July. I also have a third “practice trip” planned for August, this time without any trains except perhaps our municipal light-rail MAX train: I will bicycle across the west hills of Portland and out to Stub Stewart State Park, along the Banks-Vernonia Trail, where I have rented a cabin to stay for the night and do some wandering in the woods.I

love how things are coming together to make this all wonderful: my vision, my friends and family, Amtrak, and the wonderful network of Warmshowers hosts.

I’ll write about the magic as it unfolds on each upcoming trip. Thanks for following along!

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)

The route takes shape!

Happy spring, everyone! (Or if you’re in the southern hemisphere, Happy autumn!) Are you feeling it? Have you been out to enjoy some sunshine, warmth, blossoms and new growth? I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the glimpses of it we’ve been getting here in Portland, with the cherry blossoms along the waterfront and everything else that emerges in this season.

And… I’ve been working on my route for my trip, and I’m so excited! I’ve had the general idea of where I want to go for a while, but I hadn’t had the skills yet in Google Maps to draw it, with a wide enough swath to allow the “wiggle room” I’m definitely building into the itinerary. But the other day I watched a tutorial, et voila!

The map above shows where I plan to go. My intention is to head south from Portland this September, and make the loop until the following September. Most of the journey will be done on my wonderful Brompton folding bike, with my awesome Chubby trailer. Certain sections will be done by Amtrak trains (one of my other favorite ways to travel!) Some short segments may also be done by city transit or other buses, or in a few cases, “road tripping”/carpooling with friends in a given area.

But, mostly by bike! I’m so excited to see all the natural beauty around the continent; to visit national parks and natural areas I’ve never seen (such as the redwood forests, Yosemite, Niagara Falls, and Glacier National Park); visit new-to-me cities, including but definitely not limited to San Antonio, Atlanta, Quebec City, and Toronto; and connect with people: friends, relatives, and lots of inspiring people I have not yet met!

As the trip draws closer, I am putting together a rough list of people who may be willing to host me for a night or two in their homes. The purpose of this trip—beyond physically challenging myself and enjoying the natural beauty of the land—is to give myself a chance to connect with inspiring people, and co-create as much magic as possible. I am seeking opportunities for in-depth conversations and connections about people’s dreams, ideas, and projects for making the world a better place, so that I can help them to hold those visions, spread the word about them, and network like-minded people together as I travel, so that they can all be more effective in manifesting this magic!

So, rather than camping or relying mostly on impersonal lodging such as hotels, I am seeking ways to stay with people for one to two nights at a stretch. I have several websites/organizations in mind that are well suited to this purpose: couchsurfing.com, warmshowers.org, and servas.org. (If you’re not familiar with that last one, take a look—it is a gem of a global peacebuilding organization, founded in the wake of the Second World War.)

But, as I discovered on my 2019 epic cross-country rail journey, I found many wonderful human connections through my friends-of-friends network. I am looking forward to more of this on this (extra!) epic journey, so if you’re reading this, I humbly request that you consider whether you or someone you know might be willing to host me in your/their home for a night or two when I come through your area. I do my best to be a gracious guest, and my goal is always for anyone I stay with to be happy that we had a chance to connect and talk about what’s important and meaningful to us. If you know people on a similar wavelength, along my route, I’d love it if you would put us in touch!

The blue pins on the map are places I’ve been offered to stay so far (thanks so much to everyone who has offered already!) but I’m always open to having multiple connections in any given place, so please feel free to reach out even if your city is already marked. Also, regardless of hosting, I would love to meet up with like-minded folks to talk, perhaps in a local park or café. The more connections, the better!

And, if you do want to connect either just to talk, or to host, I’d love to “meet up” beforehand, to have a phone or video chat to get to know each other a bit, and talk about dreams and projects. We can do that at any time—the sooner the better!—so that we can have a great jumping-off point for the conversation when we meet in person.

I’m so excited. Thank you all for following along with me and supporting my vision!


To schedule a one-hour session with me to talk about your dreams or projects, use the green “contact” button above!

To be notified of future blog posts, use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

And/or, you can support my work financially with a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a fairy godfunder (thank you to all my patrons and supporters!)

Coolest bike trailer ever! (Or, how I spent my stimulus)

I’m so excited!! (And honestly kinda scared!)

I just placed my order for this amazing bike trailer, designed specifically for the Brompton by a company in the Netherlands (where they know a thing or two about cycling.) I saw the promotional video a few months ago, and couldn’t get it out of my mind.

Mind you, I’ve never biked with a trailer before. Not once.

I’m also not particularly mechanically inclined.

I know I will end up loving this, but I’m a little nervous about how I’ll feel when it actually arrives and I need to put it together, and then use it!

But.

This is such a tangible way for me to continue committing to this journey I’ve started. Part of me had thought, Why don’t I wait until later to get the trailer? What’s the rush? I don’t want to jump the gun.

It was fear.

“What if I later decide I needed that money?”

“What if something comes up to thwart the trip? I will have wasted the money!”

“Can I be the kind of person who has a bike trailer??”

And… as I’ve written before, these days I am choosing to allow my decisions to be guided by inspiration and trust, not fear.

The stimulus was the perfect nudge.

Meanwhile, I have been jumping into doing the interpersonal work that is every bit as much an essential part of this trip as bicycling equipment.

I’ve done 27 2021-intention-setting sessions since December 21st, which is more than one per day on average. I have loved every minute of it, and based on the feedback I’ve been receiving, so have the people I’ve been talking with. People are setting many different intentions for this year, but I’m loving some of the themes and overlaps I’m noticing, and I’ve also been enjoying connecting people with resources to support their dreams where I can. In some cases, this has included introducing some of these folks to each other, where their interests overlap.

This is what the trip is about. And the more sessions I do, the more powerful the network will become, to the benefit of everyone. I intend to continue doing this work from now through the end of the tour, and probably beyond. It’s not even just in the US, either: I’ve done one session with someone in Canada, and have scheduled another with someone in Australia.

I would love to do sessions with people in all US states (especially the ones I’ll be traveling through!) as well as countries around the world. How much of an impact can we all make, individually and collectively? There is so much important and beautiful work to be done to make this world a better place.

I continue to offer these sessions free of charge, with optional donations or trades welcomed but not at all expected. I believe this work needs to happen, and I love to do it, and I trust the money will work itself out.

Do you have dreams for the coming year? Would you like one of these sessions? Comment or email me (maren@dreamintochange.com) to schedule a one-hour phone call or video chat.

Would you like to support my efforts financially? I’m accepting one-time donations via PayPal (you can send it straight to the above email address) or monthly support at www.patreon.com/dreamintochange. My aim is to manifest $50,000, via various sources, for the year I’ll be on the road. (If you happen to know any fairy godfunders, please feel free to put them in touch!)

I’ll keep you updated on the bike trailer when it arrives. Meanwhile, I hope your dreams are unfolding joyfully in this tumultuous world. We need the forward momentum of our dreams more than ever at a time like this.

“The money that’s wanting to be spent”

What a day!

Today is my 48th birthday, and it occurred to me with a chuckle how appropriate that is, given that within the year I hope to begin circumnavigating the “lower 48” under my own power.

More importantly, of course, as of yesterday our country has struck a blow against fascism, and although the amount of political, social, and cultural work remaining to be done feels nearly overwhelming, this is something monumental to celebrate. And I do.

Having acknowledged these two personal and collective milestones, I want to share a bit of an epiphany I had yesterday about my vision for my trip—and indeed, about life itself—after a wonderful phone conversation with someone I encountered recently on Facebook.

Sara Eden and I spoke about both of our career/life paths, and it was an enriching conversation.

At the very end, she said this about my goal to raise between $35,000 and $50,000 to fund my year-long trip:

“I hope the money that’s wanting to be spent finds you.”

Whoa.

What a profound statement.

What a mind shift.

“…the money that’s wanting to be spent…”

After we hung up the phone, I spent about 20 minutes allowing my mind and heart to marinate in, and free-associate with, that statement.

One of the first things that came to mind was a sense of abundance vs. scarcity. I thought about how money is something that I have traditionally thought of as scarce, and that “asking for money”—even in terms of marketing my genuinely valuable services to prospective clients—has felt scary and painful.

I further reflected that my “day job” of the past 17 years has involved accounts-receivable work, in which I have to “hunt down” unpaid and delinquent bills, using postal mail, email, and phone calls to recover the money our company is owed by customers. I have grown very accustomed to this work, but at first I found it so unpleasant and frustrating that I wrote a humorous, blowing-off-steam “template letter” to these various customers (which of course I never sent, but my coworkers and I got a needed laugh from it) and the one phrase that still sticks in my mind from that letter was, “It’s like frickin’ pulling teeth to get you to pay these bills!”

What a visual. It conjures how painful it feels to ask for money, or for me to imagine someone “giving up” their money, even to my employer from whom they did take merchandise with an agreement to pay for it within 30 days.

And then I found myself laughing out loud at that phrase: “pulling teeth.” I literally met with an oral surgeon this past week, to discuss doing exactly that in my own mouth. My own body. Physically removing all of my lower teeth—to replace them with hopefully more secure false ones—probably within the next few months.

Losing my teeth was a theme of recurring nightmares for most of my life. But now that it’s really happening… maybe it’s not so bad? It’s just a part of my life story. So, how funny to see this as a metaphor: maybe my asking for money—and maybe others’ giving or trading that money toward me—needn’t be painful or difficult.

What if it could be beautiful? Joyful?

“… the money that’s wanting to be spent…”

Next, I flashed back to my high school physics class, where I learned about potential vs. kinetic energy. Potential energy is that which is “stored up,” such as a book sitting on a high shelf. Kinetic energy is energy in motion, such as when gravity impels the book to fall to the floor.

What if money is a form of energy? (I believe it is.)

In that case, the money that is “wanting to be spent” is potential energy, existing within the hearts and minds of those whose money sits in their bank accounts, waiting to be transformed into the kinetic energy of a bike trip with a world-changing purpose.

This line of thinking spurred a visual. (I love visuals!)

I pictured myself standing in the middle of the continental US, or perhaps on an imaginary map of it. I stood with confidence and joy, which filled my body and began a dance. I extended my arms as if to receive, and looked joyfully around in all directions as I danced in a fluid expression of all that I wish for this bike tour to be.

As I did so, colorful dollar bills were magnetically drawn to me from all around the United States, like floating autumn leaves. (It brought an even bigger smile to my face to enjoy the fact that our bills do now come in various vibrant pastel shades, rather than the staid green they all wore in my youth.) The money was being drawn toward me by the beauty and resonance of my dance, my purposeful vision. Like November leaves, they floated effortlessly, joyfully toward me on the breeze, and joined me in the dance.

I flashed forward several months, and these vibrant “leaves” of financial abundance were now fluttering all around me as I piloted the picturesque Brompton along the roads and trails of this country, surrounded by ever-changing natural beauty.

Yeah.

Yes.

Yes!

I am now in this dance. I am trusting that the money that is wanting to be spent will indeed find me.

Sara Eden suggested a few nonprofits that might be interested in granting me some of this money. I will follow up on these leads. I’m also dreaming up ways to offer my empathy and coaching services in ways that will be a win-win for this trip. As time goes on, I will make more of a push to encourage people to sign up for my Patreon. (If you find yourself inspired to do so now, I welcome it!) I’m also open to the idea of meeting just the right individual benefactors/philanthropists who have this “potential energy” money in abundance, and would find it joyful to transform it into something kinetic by supporting my trip. Really, I would like to find a variety of sources of funding. I wish for this journey to be a wide-ranging, community effort, with community benefit. But rather than seeing “raising the money” as a painful, shameful, awkward, or insurmountable chore, I will now view it as a joyful dance from which everyone benefits.

Yeah.

A powerful mind trick

Some of you know that I am a huge fan of train travel. I have criss-crossed the United States several times on Amtrak, as well as traversed large segments of each coast. One time, frustrated by an order-ahead system that never seemed to work when I needed it, I even ran a successful petition campaign to get vegan meals on the everyday menu of the dining cars. (RIP.) Ever since my first cross-country train trip in September of 2000, I was hooked. And, I’m fondly looking forward to supplementing this upcoming bike tour with a few rail segments.

But, I wasn’t able to dive right into train travel; the time and money were outside of my means at that point in my life. Over the years, I slowly accrued more vacation time at work; switched around my schedule to four days per week, which allowed more long-weekend trips without even touching my vacation time; and I started using an Amtrak credit card to build up miles and earn free trips.

However, I also discovered a “mind hack” to help me bring about this new, dreamed-of reality as a rider of the rails.

In 2012, I flew to San Francisco to watch my favorite band Marillion perform, since that was the closest they got to Portland on that tour. I had only visited the Bay Area once before, very briefly. As a transit geek, I was thus excited to experience the BART, which I had only heard about. I was staying with a friend in Oakland, so I would take the BART to and from the concert.

Having paid my fare and taken a seat on that light-rail train, I was anticipating the evening’s show when I had a sudden thought: “Hey, wow, I’m a rail traveler! Here I am, in another city and state, sitting on a train and enjoying the scenery. I guess this is how I get around these days! I have manifested my dream!”

I chuckled in my seat, marveling at what this little mind-trick had done for my sense of self. I knew this wasn’t an Amtrak train… but I was able to “live into” my dream, by recognizing the similarity of what I was experiencing to some important aspects of what I dreamed of experiencing. It took my transportation geekdom to the next level: no longer was I merely experiencing another municipal transit system—albeit a well-known one I had looked forward to riding—but I was now a person who vacationed in various cities via rail.

The shift was powerful. Within one year of that moment, I became an international passenger-rail tourist: In January of 2013, I took a two-week “California rail adventure,” stopping in five cities. In June of that same year, I took my East Coast Empathy Tour, offering on-the-street empathy in four major metro areas while traveling between them on long-distance trains. And then in December, I took a 30-years-in-the-making two-week trip to Australia, where I traveled by train between Canberra and Melbourne.

I’m choosing to start that mind-shift again now, on my bike. As I enjoy my morning or afternoon commute, or take a spin around the neighborhood to do errands or explore a new food cart, I now think to myself, “This is my life! I’m a bike tourer. This is how I get around, wherever I go, and I enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery.”

I’ve always enjoyed biking for transportation here in Portland anyway. But now, I can feel that it’s part of something much larger. I am riding into something much larger.

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The magic is building

Wow… the magic of this trip has begun!

I had sensed from the start that as I began to write about it, and to share the writing on various platforms, people would start to come together to offer advice, encouragement, and the like… and that I would begin making connections amongst inspiring people and resources.

That’s how this all works. If I’ve learned anything from living my life, and working as a life coach, it’s that when we put our scary and exciting visions “down on paper” and begin to talk about them with others, things start to come together in really inspiring ways.

When I shared yesterday’s blog post to my Facebook page, I wasn’t sure if it would garner much engagement, because I thought “the rain” was a pretty unexciting topic, even if it was top-of-mind for me, and felt very relevant to my vision and planning.

But when one of my friends read the post, she tagged three of her friends whom she knew to be bike travelers, and two of them weighed in with some great pointers and encouragement. One of them also re-referenced the third person, who hasn’t (yet?) chimed into the conversation himself, but who has apparently written several books about his own bike-touring adventures! I want to read these books. I think the more I learn firsthand about others’ experiences, the more I will get a feel for what I want, what I should perhaps avoid, and how I can best prepare for this adventure.

Most importantly, though, one of these friends of my friend—Matt Picio, whose name I recognized as a multifaceted leader in the local bike community over the past ten years or so, but whom I had never met—imparted some wonderful words of wisdom, and I want to share them with you too, because they apply to so many areas of life and dreams, not just bike tours:

“Someone told me once that everyone on a major tour hits ‘the wall’ at some point, where they are ready to give it up and go home. If you get past it, then nothing will faze you anymore and you can ride pretty much indefinitely at that point. It was true for me, and for me it was in Virginia City, Montana, slogging uphill after a few particularly brutal days riding from Twin Bridges through Sheridan and Alder. I was ready to be done, and go home, and I had a couple of soul-searching phone calls with friends. What got me past it was having to get to somewhere I could catch a train home, and riding over the crest and downhill into Ennis, MT, I truly experienced why Montana is called ‘Big Sky Country’ – it was a breathtaking, humbling moment coupled with a several mile 30mph+ descent into Ennis that reminded me exactly why I was out there, and why I wanted to ride.

Your moment will probably be different, but whatever it is, remember that everybody has theirs, and if you can (safely) push past it, you’ll be able to do whatever you put your mind to on the tour.”

I loved this nugget of wisdom. It was another example of something I had sensed, and imagined would be true on my journey, but to see it expressed so eloquently by someone who had actually done a similar trip really helped to reinforce the principle.

Matt continued:

“Oh – one last piece of (unsolicited) advice. Never let anyone tell you ‘you’re doing it wrong’. I was notorious among people touring the US that year for carrying a cast-iron skillet. (For the record, it weighed 3.5 lbs and I lost 33 lbs during the trip – so really, did it weigh that much? I ate really well.) A couple I met toured with a full Coleman stove strapped to her rear rack. And one guy I met in Gothensburg, NE had a 70s suitcase with buckle straps bungied to his rear rack. Whatever you choose to tour with is YOUR CHOICE. We weren’t doing it wrong, and you won’t be either. The best mental skill you can have on tour is a willingness to accept everyone where they are at and not take anything personally. Everyone will have an opinion – you’re doing it wrong, you shouldn’t be touring alone, you shouldn’t be touring with a partner, it’s so dangerous to be on the roads, etc. Let them roll off you and enjoy the moment. … This is your tour, your life. You’re not doing it wrong. It’s yours.”

This was another wonderful affirmation, exactly when I needed it. Just yesterday at the optometrist, I told the doctor about my plan, and he was excited for me, but then he began speculating about what kind of bike I “should really be using” for a trip like this, rather than my Brompton. He wasn’t the first I’ve encountered, to hear my dream and then try to “edit” it, to “optimize” things for me. (And clearly he will not be the last!) I’m pleased to say that I mostly did take Matt’s advice, before even reading it today; I smiled and let the optometrist enjoy his own “twist” on my dream—perhaps he will even end up making some part of it his own!—while remembering that I have my own vision, and I can take others’ advice, but only if it truly feels right to me.

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