Photo: The Bike Ride For Empathy business cards that I gave to people while on my 53-day adventure.
Having already done it in 2008 and
2011, going cross-country by bicycle a third time was always a desire. Sometimes the longing was
stronger or weaker, but it always seemed to be on the radar. In 2016, I was living in Trinidad, Colorado
and working as a mental health therapist in Trinidad and Walsenburg. In October 2016, I
resigned from my job and gave myself a 6-month sabbatical from my intense and rewarding work. I needed a break, a prolonged pause to refresh my soul.
It was then that I knew it would be a perfect time to bike across America.
I named this trip the Bike Ride For Empathy. Empathy is a common term in contexts where interpersonal skills are important. In my field
of counseling, empathy -- the idea of taking the perspective of others and feeling with them -- is absolutely critical.
Regardless of one's job, I think empathy is important for all of us. Anyone who wants successful relationships
must "get it" about empathy. We've got to break out of our inherent selfishness and actually practice it. On this website
are various visuals and lessons about empathy that I hope encourage you.
Throughout the journey, I posted images and blurbs about empathy on social media.
Above is a little something. :)
Bike Ride For Empathy on Facebook
I shared my experiences on social media more than in previous trips. Everyday I posted photos and updates on
Facebook, including 22 live videos. I also made
189 videos that are on a neat and tidy YouTube playlist.
Of course, I gave short updates on Twitter each day as well. :)
It was so rewarding to share my experiences on a daily basis with friends and followers. I wouldn't have done it any other way.
The Great John Wylie
Photo: John's enthusiasm was evident upon his arrival in Trinidad, Colorado. We'd head west in his truck the next morning.
John Wylie deserves special recognition for his help during the early part of the expedition.
John is an avid cyclist in Oklahoma City who has often dreamed of biking across America,
but family and work commitments have limited him from doing it. However, once John learned about my upcoming plans,
he agreed to get away for a week and ride with me from San Diego to Phoenix.
John was so excited to do his first multi-day bike tour, and honestly, I think I needed his positive energy.
While it's true I've biked across the country twice, my intuition told me I needed a partner early on to keep me motivated and accountable.
Starting alone just didn't seem as appealing for this go-round.
By the way, I've been burned before by people who are "all talk and no action." Twice, well-meaning retired people with RVs have offered to drive
across the USA and support me, while offering to let me sleep for free in their vehicle. Each time though, they backed out.
There have been other plans and offers from others that haven't worked out as well. I write all
this to note I've become weary of relying on anyone to make my cycling aspirations happen.
My attitude is: "Prepare to do it alone without needing anyone, but if help comes along, then great."
Well, I'm proud to say John Wylie -- the great John Wylie -- is not like most people.
He's a DOER. He keeps his word. And he shows up on time. John was a breath of
fresh air in a world filled with talkers who come up empty in results.
His passion about the mission was so beneficial.
As for logistics, John drove from Oklahoma City to Trinidad. The next day
we drove through New Mexico to Prescott, Arizona.
We'd sleep over there, and then John's cousin and her partner shuttled us
to San Diego where we'd begin on our bikes the next morning. I was thankful to keep my car in Colorado this time.
As the bike tour approached, I got my bicycle serviced and steadily got everything ready.
On the morning I left Trinidad for San Diego, these were the pretty colors from the sunrise.
For this trip, I did something different. With me on a month-to-month lease for my apartment, I opted to entirely move out to save two months of rent.
I put everything I owned (which isn't much) into storage. Thus, when I was leaving my place, I was also experiencing the stresses of
moving out of my home of the past 18 months.
This is how blessed I was: Two friends sent me Subway gift cards totaling $200. :)
In Grants, New Mexico, I'd use them for the first time when I bought this foot-long sandwich with chicken and green chile. Mmmm. :)
At the Prescott Junction Restaurant in Prescott, Arizona, things got festive with strangers once word got around that I would begin biking across America in 36 hours. :)
On the second day, we'd travel from Prescott to San Diego. The scenic drive from Prescott towards Yarnell was so pretty.
From the back seat, I saw a saguaro cactus for the first time in two years. Ahhhh. :)
And palm trees! Oh yeah, I'm a big fan of palm trees. We passed a bunch of palm tree farms like this in southern California.
At another Subway restaurant in Blythe, California, I met two ladies and told them
about my cycling plans. We had a great conversation about riding bikes.
I gave them my business card so they could track me online, and they wanted me to sign the back. They made me feel like a celebrity! :)
We stopped for a break in the desert outside of Brawley.
In Brawley, my Garufiness came out in full force. I drove everyone crazy in the car as I attempted to make a Brawley, California
tourism video. :p)
Soon we'd arrive in San Diego and check into our motel. I remember lying on my bed when John said,
"When you're on the other side of the country
you'll look back at this moment and think, 'Man, that was a long time ago.'" He was right.
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