Friday, July 31: Despite a rather moderate day of riding, time-wise anyway, I was just totally beat. Probably just the build-up of everything culminating in our leaving yesterday. Judy’s doing the first stint today as designated driver on our way from Grand Jcn. to Denver, and I’ll take over in the mts. Feel pretty refreshed this morning though, so that bodes well for a relaxing drive to the big D. 

I didn’t have much time to reflect yesterday, and as I sit here right now I’m still a little fuzzy on exactly what to say, how to put it down on in words intelligibly. So this day’s blog could be a bit of tangential ramblings, if so I apologize.

First thing that comes to my mind is that this is the first X-country trip out of the five attempts that I’d not finished - in the same summer in which I started it that is. So that in itself is not pleasing to me, especially when I’ve had this thing wrapped around me like a second skin for the last several years. Just getting finality to American Dirt was going to be a massive burden off of my shoulders. Yet today I’m faced with the fact that I’ve got to get my game face back again for another year in order to complete it in 2016. My savings grace is that I’ve already completed 10.75 of the 13 states, so the daunting nature of what lay ahead of me this past May, that will not be present next May. 

But my mood perks up when I compare 2015 to my unsuccessful 2012 American Dirt attempt, where I did make it to the Pacific Ocean. Looking at it that way, this year was a stunning success. I mean I had to throw in the towel and start riding asphalt in 2012 back when I was in Athens, OH for goodness sake, and I’d started in Washington, DC. This year, hell, I started in DE, and I took this thing all the way to Lynndyl, UT. And quite honestly I’d be stunned if I had even 100 miles of asphalt this summer. I think, just off-hand, I’ve counted like 80 miles asphalt miles in I don’t know how many thousands of miles of travel. So this in itself pretty much quells my disappointment in not completing the whole trip this summer. From that standpoint alone I’m pretty damned proud of what we accomplished.

Yesterday, on the way back east to Grand Jcn, I was thinking of good comparisons from my past athletic life to what I’d just experienced with American Dirt here in 2015. And my immediate thought went back to when I did my first few marathons in the 1980’s. When I’d gotten done with marathon #1 and #2, I still have visions of myself resting on the ground just beat to hell, sore and tired, swearing up and down that I’d NEVER do another marathon - NEVER. And then the very next day, as if I’d just experienced a split personality moment, I was raving about how I wanted to do it again, to try to do better, to get back on the horse so to speak and ride that puppy all the way to the finish line yet again. So on the drive back east yesterday to Grand Jcn., I was wondering if I’d get that same feeling today, feeling like I wanted to pick it up again and go for it. Well, I can definitively say that I do! And I know this feeling will grow and flourish as the clock ticks down again to the start…er…the restart of American Dirt in May of 2016. 

As I mentioned yesterday in the beginning of the blog, I’d definitely lost my zeal, my mojo, after I’d completed that Salina to Filmore mountain segment back on Tuesday. I think that was my immediate post-marathon #1 and #2 moment of this trip. That day really took a lot out me emotionally as well as physically. And the last thing I wanted to do was to get back on the horse again when I exited that mountain range. It was the focus of my concentration for nearly a week, knowing what a day that would be to complete. And once I got done, sore, beaten and tired, once I rode out of that Chalk River Valley and threw my bike in the van for the end of the day, I think I’d just used up all I had left in the tank. Didn’t know it at the time, but I was a different person for Wednesday and Thursday. Judy noticed it, but I didn’t. I just wasn’t there anymore with respect to my drive and  enthusiasm. I’d checked out Tuesday afternoon at 2 PM. 

I’m sure some of this loss of drive also revolved around the fact that I knew I would not finish the trip this summer, and suddenly those last couple rides seemed so insignificant. That blessed end point - the finish line - was just NOT there looming on the horizon like it had in the past for me. Without that finish line, that dangling carrot right in front of my face luring me on like a siren song, those last few rides just seemed so absolutely empty & without purpose. That’s why I pulled the plug yesterday. I just couldn’t see doing any more of this thing without the eye of the tiger mentality. I needed the reflection, the re-examination, and the recharging of my attitude so I can finish strong. 

I think I’m going to have to go over this massive archive (A half full terabyte external hard drive) of video and still photos to truly appreciate what we’ve done. Now that’s not so I can pump myself up like an egomaniac, nor to pat myself on the back so hard as to dislocate my shoulder, I’m not that vain. No, it’s more to silently savor the challenges that I was able to endure. Those of you who know me understand that I prefer the quiet and confident approach to athleticism. To me, just knowing that I did it is THE penultimate reward for doing it. I don’t need the pub., I don’t need the glad-handing, and I don’t need the ego crap. It’s that simple. So for me, just being able to sit at my desk on a cold winter’s day and go over all those photo and video moments by myself, looking at so many of those challenging days, that’s when I’ll really get to appreciate the effort I put in this summer. Right now it’s all just a rush of fast-forward, jumbled snippets, dream-like visions that make no sense because most of them are too foggy in my mind.

Finally, I’d like to take a moment to thank all of you who have supported us throughout not only this summer, but also through the past couple of years leading up to this summer. The list is long. You don’t know how much this has meant to us as we’ve pushed this trek forward from conception to actuality. Wether it be monitory   or simple well-wishes, having you guys out there cheering us on all this time, you just don’t know how awesome that is for the psyche. I can tell you for real how important that’s been over the years of me doing these crazy trips. There’s been moments of despair, both in this trip and in prior trips, that I’ve leaned on this one crucial phone call or email that just inspired the hell out of me to keep pushing on through the bad times - not just for me, but for you guys to! 

I feel like you guys out there are as invested in this as I am, and I take that very seriously. There have been times when Judy’s kind of gotten paved at me for my insistence in getting the blog done asap after a day’s ride. And my reply to her has always remained the same: The blog is my repayment to all of you who are so faithful with respect to your interest in what I’m doing. I owe it to you to keep you informed, to try to put you in my shoes, where I can share my senses with you, all the sights, the sounds, the smells, and even the thoughts that I experience in a day’s ride. To me, that’s a big deal! And I can’t thank you all enough for your patronage. 

Based on the above, I hope this blog has fulfilled it’s goal. You’ve given to us… it’s my hope that we’ve given back to you. And I would like to think that as I build back up to a full head of steam in prep to finish this trip next spring/summer 2016, that all of you will be right back here again with us to see that task completed. It’s been my pleasure to share the past three months with you. Thanks a million to each and every one of you!

P.S.   We’ve been talking today about a little get-together sometime in the near future where we’d have the opp. to see many of you in person, and to share the American Dirt experience with you first-hand. I’ll post more information on the American-Dirt homepage within the next week. I’ll also be updating the American-Dirt website with photo/video/commentary from this summer, so stay tuned. 

Take care all, signing off for 2015…….Pete