Russell Brunelle (russellb) wrote,
Russell Brunelle

The two questions I get about this trip...

In every small town I've stayed in so far this trip, I've tried to engage locals in conversation (FWIW the best way to do this is bring the ACA map for your location to the town bar and study it there).

What follows are my thoughts on the two most common questions I tend to get when chatting with locals:

1. Isn't doing this expensive?

It's actually possible, in certain circumstances, to come out financially AHEAD by riding a bicycle across the country.

If you're unemployed, retired, or on summer vacation from school, AND you're renting your current living space, then provided you can either sublet said living space OR can give notice to vacate and put your stuff in storage until your return, then you only come out BEHIND if what you pay for lodging during your bike trip exceeds the sum of rent and utilities for the duration of your trip at your old place, plus whatever you would have spent on entertainment in that place's city, plus whatever you would have spent on automobile fuel and maintenance.

If you camp more than you stay in hotels, it's possible to come in on the frugal side of that.

2. You must really be driven to do this!

You actually need to be even less driven than is necessary to hold down a boring job.

Holding down a boring job means you sacrifice about ten hours a day in exchange for money, which you then may or may not succeed in trading for either wisdom or comfort.

With cross-country bicycle travel, the "ten hours" part is only physically challenging for about the first week, and even then during all that time you're seeing new things.

And after all that time, I guarantee taking a shower, drying off next to an air conditioner, putting on fresh clothes, and enjoying a glass of ice water will feel better than you can imagine.

Likewise, during the day, with nothing but your thoughts to keep you company, you have the chance to reflect on everything you've ever done and everything you've ever considered doing, through which you may gain wisdom.

You also have the chance, if you've lived your life in big cities, to better-understand rural America with every passing night.

And finally, there's the fact that it's only through extreme and unusual experiences that our internal clocks slow down: put bluntly, it seems wasteful to me to spend $2,000 at the end of life to get a few more weeks, when I could spend that $2,000 in the middle of life for an experience which will expand the amount of time I felt like I lived by years.

Considering all of what it means to be alive, and all the different ways to maximize your experience of being alive, I'm still convinced riding a bicycle across the country is one of the best deals out there.
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