This trip has just blown by. We're less than two weeks from meeting our other 45 teammates in Whitehorse. We're a bit over three weeks from arriving in Anchorage. Although some days seem like they never end, the days of this trip have started blurring together.
At this point in the trip, a lot us have begun to reflect on what we've done the past 45 days and what we've learned. I can personally say that I've learned so much.
For one, I don't think I'll ever be able to drive through a national park again. After biking through Banff and Jasper National Park, I've learned that it's very difficult to truly appreciate the park behind a car window. On a bike, you feel every breeze coming down the mountain side. Every breath is a breath of the freshest air. The hills and descents that cut through the mountains do not go unnoticed. The ground, the flowers, the trees, go whizzing by, but the mountains constantly tower over you, allowing you to really appreciate them.
Driving makes the trip about the destination, but biking is all about the journey.
Furthermore, this ride has been humbling and has changed my perspective about people. Something I've learned from traveling to a new town and meeting new people every day for six weeks is that people are generally the same. There may be differing opinions and attitudes, but everyone has their struggles, and everyone has a story to tell. During a ride dedication, one of our riders said, "the struggle is beautiful." Talking with others, hearing their stories, has shown me that this is true because we're all in this together. We provide hope to those we meet, while they provide us with inspiration and motivation. I never thought I would learn so much from our hosts on this trip.
A final lesson that I've learned is the fleeting nature of life. There have been a few days that I'll remember as extremely challenging, other than Mount Evans. One was biking over Sunwupta Pass to the Columbia Icefields, and the other was biking to McBride, British Columbia. We were rained on during both occasions and even snowed on while biking over the mountain pass. With all of our clothes soaking wet, the intense headwind made me feel like I was in a freezer. Both times, there was a point when I could hardly use my hands, and my toes were completely numb. The physical pain was challenging, but the mental challenge of choosing to forego the support van, to endure the pain, the hills, and the cold in lieu of the warmth and comfort, was just as tough—if not tougher. However, I can proudly say that we all persevered. We call this ride a "humble metaphor for the fight against cancer," and I believe it's just that. I have realized that our pain ends when we arrive at our destination for the day. We can change into warm, dry clothes. We can sit down and rest our weary legs. Cancer patients don't have that relief. That's been a strong motivator for me. I have become aware that periods of suffering and happiness are only temporary. That helps me endure the cold and the wind because I know that when I'm climbing the next hill with the sun shining down on me, I'll be hot and sweaty. The fleeting nature helps me endure the suffering and appreciate all the happy times.
Now we're currently in Prince George, British Columbia enjoying a rest day with a long time host, Dorrie. I would have never imagined that I would learn and grow so much on this trip. I always had a secret fear that I would come out of this trip potentially a bit fitter, but essentially the same man. I'm sad that this experience is so close to the end, but I'm so thankful for all that Texas 4000 has given me and my teammates. Definitely a trip of a lifetime.