In three days, I begin my Eyes Up Ride and start biking across the entire country.
This summer has felt especially busy. Whenever I had a moment to myself, I spent it on the Eyes Up Ride. I would do my best to send out a couple emails to a possible sponsor or friend or relative, make a promo Instagram story (and struggle to flip the camera around; social media is hard for me), polish a section of the route on Ride With GPS (an online platform to build bike routes – they will be loaded onto my Garmin bike computer), organize gear, or maybe call my mom.
Many of you know this is my first time doing any sort of longer-term bike tour. So, while I have tons of backpacking experience to pull from as I prepare, this is new in countless ways. My mind is continuously churning through the what-ifs and the various things I need to do before heading out. It felt like for every task I crossed off my to-do list, five more would pop up. It’s currently sitting at 58 tasks, oops.
I write this from my Delta flight returning to JFK from SFO on the Wednesday (August 18) before departure. The craziness of the summer didn’t stop after my last day at Overland on August 13th. On the 14th, I got brunch with and said goodbye to my Williamstown friends, packed up the remainder of my Water Street apartment into the ever-so-reliable Toyota Sienna, drove home to Connecticut, unpacked the car, said hi to my parents’ dog Lucci, took myself out to dinner, packed a duffle for California, and took a shower. The next day got off to a rocky start when I overslept nearly two hours for my flight to SFO. Somehow, I made it just in time for my flight – upshot: no waiting at the gate. So here I am on the plane back after some quality family time in the Bay Area. More big, but super exciting, days ahead: preparing and packing tomorrow, driving with parents to Cape Cod on Friday afternoon, and starting my ride on Saturday.
My packed schedule, fortunately, has left me with little time to stress or feel anxious about departure. I have felt oddly calm about the trip in recent weeks despite the numerous friends and family members asking me questions like “Are you nervous?” My coolness regarding the trip might be part ignorance about what to expect and part confidence that I feel prepared and ready to handle whatever happens.
I also feel grounded by the support from my community at the end of the summer and by speaking with both of Merritt Levitan’s siblings. The Levitan family gives me a sense of calm whenever I interact with them. One moment that gave me a particularly notable feeling of ease was when Joe Levitan left Williamstown at the end of Overland leader closing. He told me he was excited for me, and that Merritt would be with me on the ride. Joe said I would feel her presence throughout my experience. I felt a sort of clearing of my head and a noticeable drop in blood pressure. Joe’s words reminded me why I am doing this ride and gave me the powerful feeling of a greater purpose.
Over these next few months, I will face many new and likely uncomfortable experiences. While I have plenty of knowledge and confidence in navigating challenging situations, I am excited for the discomfort -- and to push through the harder times. I am incredibly grateful for and humbled by the 80+ people who have supported the Eyes Up Ride so far, helping me nearly reach my $1/mile goal before departure.
I will continue to raise money for TextLess Live More throughout my trip and I look forward to engaging with people along the way about being present and putting their phones down both on and off the road. I am just three days away from starting this adventure, and now it’s finally time to turn my attention to this journey, get my rear wheel trued, and figure out where the heck I am going to pack my stove.
Thank you to all those who helped me get to this point!