Returning to the Real World

I have to say I was pretty smart and lucky to be able to prolong the harsh weight of reality from hitting me after I graduated.  Around May, biking was all I wanted to do.  The idea of biking through Europe seemed like a surreal, somewhat nonexistent adventure that was taunting me in the distance.  For me it was just something to plan for and keep busy, thinking that I didn't have to face the reality of life like most college grads do the minute they're handed a diploma.  Instead of stepping into a job I wasn't sure of, I stepped into some spandex, got a bike, and went to try my hand at biking through some countries with my best friend. 

I loved this idea, mainly because it was a little bit out of character to me.  I talked to a good friend from college the other day, telling stories about the trip, some good days, some bad days, and he started laughing.  He admitted that when I told him about the trip he just thought, "Ryan... biking for 10 weeks... good luck?" While he was wary of my plans, he watched me get a bike, and come home every week after a few rides sweaty and cursing as I passed out on the couch.

Looking back on the trip where everyday, we would spend 6-9 hours on the bike working our ass's off to get to the next destination gets me stoked.  The first day setting out of the airport in Lisbon, I was scared shitless.  I just looked at the highway, foreign cars cutting through visible humidity.  Feeling my bike, I also realized this was my first time riding fully loaded down with my panniers.  For anyone planning a tour, don't do this, train with the panniers and you will be glad you did.  Despite my worried rants of getting a taxi, Keagan controlled the desire to smack some sense into me, calmed me down, and told me to get on my damn bike.

It was unreal, moving from that first pedal in Lisbon, shorts and a tank-top, freshly shaved face, with a naive thirst for what lay ahead. Suddenly I'm wrapped in the warmest clothes I had riding a few thousand miles away along the Irish coast, with a burning orange tuft of hair protruding from my face, yet that smile and absolute excitement for the moment hadn't changed.

Ending in Dublin, we were staying with a friend, Lisa, who had been my nanny when I was 3 months old and she was 19.  We were happy to be with such an awesome family for our last few days, but the trip had come to a halt.  Everything had been rolling around our spokes for 10 weeks, then as I handed that bike over to be packed away in a small green shop in Dublin, everything crashed.  Ten weeks of constant movement and new surrounding just piled up on top of me.  After the flight home and a week of just nothing, it's all coming together.

No matter what the real world holds for me I'm happy to be doing something I love.  Even though I just found out what a bike can really do, I don't want to stop pedaling.  Every one I've met, the places I've seen, the hills I've climbed made for one hell of an adventure.  As long as I have my bike, camera, best friend, and open road I'm happy.

Saltyspokes is a community and a way of travel, and hopefully will grow into a few more adventures.