If you’re a girl, an American girl in particular, going on a solo bike tour (or any sort of solo adventure for that matter) you keep a blog. Almost without fail, this seems to be the case. And in this blog, you will write about your bike by name (usually a female name), referring to “her” as a person with a soul, using phrases like “separation anxiety” and “it’s what she wanted.” You will also write about a) the emotional roller coaster of your trip (often telling funny stories about a scene you made), b) connections made with people along the way (usually ranging from helpful couple to semi-creepy man), and c) personal insights. You will d) relate your journey to your favorite book or quote (usually by John Muir or Edward Abbey). You’ll search hard for anything that makes your trip unique, epic, special…and then you’ll write about it.
I was chatting with my Scottish friend-for-a-day Iain one evening at our camp on the coast of California (b, connections you’ve made with people along the way), and the topic of blogs came up. He remarked how blogging is a very American thing to do, and in his mind very laced with the idea of self-promotion. I agree, and I struggle so much with this. How many times have I started a blog (at the behest of others, or because I want to write more, or because it looks pretty and it’s fun to play with the colors and pictures and make something that is just so very “me”), written one or two entries, and quit because I felt like I was just writing a diary and expecting everyone to be interested in reading it (c, personal insights).
I thought about this a lot on my trip. There’s a lot of time spent pedaling on a bike tour, a lot of good thinking time. What should I write in my blog? Should I write in my blog? Should I write about feeling lonely, phoneless, and friendless, and getting flagged down by Tom, the bike tour guide as I rode through a small town and invited to have lunch with his tour group (a & b)? Should I write about how, in the midst of my 100 mile days, I was constantly torn between being so goal driven and also simply wanting to enjoy the journey (a & c)? Should I write about flying down the narrow and curvy Highway 1 north of San Francisco and feeling so FREE and BLISSFUL that I couldn’t help but giggle and keep saying, “This is so awesome!!!” So “wild and free” (d, quoting your favorite author)!!!
There’s something in me that feels sheepish that I sound like everyone else. I’m so aware of it, it makes me not want to write. I’m just another girl, out having an adventure, and then in the coffee shop typing the story out with my thumbs in a way that makes it sound epic, and exotic, and full of wild story-making material. We’re all out here doing the same thing, all trying to be so unique…so standardly unique. It’s kind of like another form of being a hipster. But is that really what we’re trying to do? Is being unique, or having unique adventures, the point? I really don’t think so. So many people have biked the Pacific coast, and so many people have written about it. Nothing unique about it. But I hadn’t biked the coast, and my friend Sara that I met on the road (she has a blog, surprise surprise) – she hadn’t biked the coast either. And we both just wanted to do it, so we did it. And maybe friends or family asked that we keep in touch. Or maybe going out alone, we felt like it would make the experience richer to be able to share it with others. Whatever it is, I don’t want my fear of being just another girl on an adventure and being so cliché about it to stop me from sharing with people who care. Because in the end, I am just another girl on an adventure – I am no different from anyone else, and there’s nothing shameful about that. And after all that, I’m guessing the reader is disappointed that I didn’t just write a simple blog post about my trip. Next time, now that I got this out of my system. 🙂