Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bring It On

One of the first things Mike Munk said to me after we met was how hard of a time I'm going to have on this tour. It's a good thing I had already hammered the final nail into the lid on the coffin of anxiety about this trip.

"You've only been cycling about five months and you want to do a trip like this? You're going to have a hard time," he said grimly as he reassembled Maddy during early bird registration yesterday. "A really hard time."

Mike is one of the ride leaders for America By Bicycle, Inc. His pedal strokes have crisscrossed the country countless times. He logged 100,000 miles ... back in 2002! He's won national medals. Within minutes of meeting him, you know that he knows what he's talking about. You have to respect that immediately.

"Tell him that you're only 30," Mark said over his shoulder. Mike spun Maddy's wheels. His forehead creased as he turned an allen key, "We had a rider last summer who was 21 years old, and she had a tough time for awhile ... You're going to have some days that you are really going to hate."

Let me be clear. Mike didn't tell me that I can't do this. I appreciate my loyalest friends jumping quickly to my defense in the comments on this post, but Mike didn't try to stop me. He just didn't sugarcoat his perceptions of my limited experience.

I appreciate honesty in all forms. Living in New York City, brutal honesty is the most refreshing fashion. Musician Ani Drifranco once said: "I can't wait to get back to New York City where at least when I walk down the street, no one ever hesitates to tell me exactly what they think of me."

I like brutal honesty, but I didn't tell Mike what I thought about his frank response. I don't like having to put my money where my mouth is and coming up short on cash. I prefer to make sure I can actually do something before I publicly announce that I can. Instead I smiled and shrugged the same way I did whenever someone in North Carolina told me how hard it was going to be to move to New York City without an apartment or a job or any corporate connections. Tough - sure. Potential to fail - possible, even likely. Regret for not even trying - guaranteed.

Mike knows this route. He knows the types of people who've taken this tour before me. He knows that I'll have a hard time. I know he's right.

Here's what he doesn't know:

I'm not afraid of a hard time.

For the last four years, I've worked at a corporation in New York City full of strong-minded women, who don't like to be told what they cannot do or receive insinuations that imply inevitable failure. As a military brat, I lived the life of a nomad, changing homes and schools every 2-3 years until I was 16. I lost my college sweetheart to a prescription drug addiction when I was 23. I worked three jobs, seven days a week for a year to move to New York. And I worked two jobs, six days a week for the last nine months to be able to afford to do this tour. I trained with a cycling coach for 2-4 hours nearly every Sunday at 7:30am after serving my last cocktail and clocking out of job #2 at five o'clock in the morning. And several of those Saturday all-nighters and Sunday early morning sessions were proceeded by 65-mile training rides. I know I still have a lot more to learn about cycling and even more to learn about cycling across North America. I'm not a cocky, naïve beginner. I'm an ambitious novice, who is ready for a hard time that doesn't involve constant uprooting of my entire life, sudden tragedy, piles of paperwork and endless emails, or trays loaded with alcohol for touchy-feely bankers.

I'll admit that I don't fully know what I'm getting myself into with this tour, but I'm a risk taker. Regret ultimately stings a lot more than failure, and I only get to live this life once (unless I come back in the next one as a cow or a worm). I want to fill my life with extraordinary moments as often as possible (especially since coming back as said cow or worm will drastically limit my ability to pursue thrilling feats). And I truly believe what I read in AbyB's Rider Kit: "Your worst day on a bicycle is better than your best day in the office."

Mike quoted that same philosophy on his website under his favorite sayings. So bring it on, Mr. Munk! I'm ready for my worst day on a bicycle! And I'm ready for some fun!


Steph said...

I am very excited for you and can't wait to read about your trip along the way. Have fun, be safe and take time to take those pictures!

Thanks for sharing!

Katie said...

KT! You will be AMAZING... especially on the hard days! :) Enjoy it, soak it up and TAKE PICTURES!!! You are a rock star and I can't wait to "join" you on your journey via your blog!

Paige said...

Katie - You truly have what this trip will take! It will show you things you never knew about yourself but it will also show Mike what he did not see in his first glance. Show us all what you are made of and enjoy every minute of it!

MikeBike said...


Good luck as you tackle a task that will change your life. It will be fun..and yes at times it will be hard but with the determination I read about in your preparation you will be fine.

My family and I did the ride you are doing in 2007.

As to Mike -- he is direct at times but he is a wealth of good info and he will do his best to get you there safely .

Stay focused - ride safe-- enjoy the sights and people

Mike Miller

Monique D. said...

YOU GO GIRl!!!! That's right!!! Don't let him or anybody tell you you can't do this! :)