Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Outback Preparation

Ugly things, I mean really ugly, can sometimes be so extreme that they circle around the aesthetic sphere and cross back over into beauty.  I'm realizing that this theory may apply to other things too, like anxiety.  My anxiety in preparing for my first ever bikepacking trip has circled around to euphoria.  Self-doubt to confidence.  Fear to courage.  Past to future.

It all started last November when I registered for Donnie and Gabe's ride.  For a while, I felt like the Oregon state map taped to the wall above my mountain bike would put me ahead of the game.  My plan was to slowly chip away at preparations, and just magically be done.  Then two weeks ago, it hit me.  I'm not ready!  I need to buy even more crap from REI!  The next day I bought quick drying purple camp underwear.  All of these preparations started to add up to a new kind of stress.  What if I go out to the desert with all my new stuff and just flop?  What if I'm not strong enough?  What if, what if, what if...
One day, I ran into two bikepackers in the REI lobby, who were about to endeavor on a pre-ride of the Outback route.  That's when I realized how different my bike gear looks from everyone else's.  Of all of the websites and instagrams and facebook pictures I've seen of Outback bikes, none of them have a rack and panniers.  None of them sport a homemade polka dot frame bag.  And certainly none of them have a white plastic basket strapped to the front.  Hello, self-doubt.
Reports from pre-riders (maybe even those same guys I met at REI) have been pouring in and include words like treacherous, brutal, horrendous, loctite, saddle sores and dangerous.  I was having a tough time hanging on to my mantra: "it's just a bike ride, it's just a bike ride".  Fear was taking over.

Until yesterday.  Something happened that put all of it into perspective.  It doesn't matter what that something is, just that it's not bikey and it's not healthy and it's not sane.  And it's in the Past.  Which has wrapped itself around to bring me to the Future.  What's in the Future?  Well, you know as well as I do.  My nephew's eleventh birthday lunch, probably at Chuck E. Cheeze.  The day after I finish this adventure, odyssey, challenge, or, I mean, bike ride.