Day 43 – Mission Complete

Marblemount, WA to Anacortes, WA – 68 miles 

Total: 3798  miles- 88miles per day average 

It’s amazing how much better you feel on a bike when you don’t have another day hanging over your head.  Cruised it in for the finale in just under 4 hours with the support team directing me.  Anacortes was a great place to finish.  I decided to finish on a small beach on Puget Sound or the Strait of Juan Fuca.  Either way it is tidal salt water so it’s the Pacific Ocean to me.  What a great feeling to be done, figured I should have some moment of enlightenment when I finished but just stared at the water Forrest Gump like and had no idea what to do next.  Took the bike to a mail store and had it and all my smelly clothes shipped back home.  Going to spend the next 48 hours enjoying the west coast and seeing what life is like without my butt on a bike saddle all day. 

5 best moments 

5. Crossing the Mississippi w Kevin

4. Arriving in Berea and being through the Appalachians 

3.  Getting to the top of Hoosier Pass w Runyon

2. Stopping at Lewis lake looking out to the Grand Tetons 

1. Finish line w Becca, not a bad final destination!

5 Worst moments

5.  Leaving Breckinridge in the near freezing rain.  

4. Hot heat outside of Harrodsburg VA.  First realization that this trip would be hard than it looked on paper.  Had to split one of the planned legs into two days. Did not expect Appalachians to be that unforgiving. 

3.  First flat tire right before the ascent up Hoosier Pass.  At the same time cold rain began to come down. 

2.  Freezing rain through Earthquake lake just outside of Yellowstone.agbe the coldest I’ve ever been, the hand dryer at the rest stop could not meet this challenge. 

1.  Somewhere in the middle of Whyoming without a working clip pedal, going up another mountain with a 25 mph headwind and a flat tire and popping the only spare.   

Assorted best photos 

Lessons Learned

1. Patience – One of the hardest things about the trip was dealing with the monotony of being on the bike for 8 or more hours a day and watching the miles slooooowly click by. Lots of daydreaming, listening to audiobooks, talking to the wife on the phone helped.  Nonetheless, there were times that everything had to be shut off and just pedal in the moment without thinking about the challenges up ahead.

2. Less is More – I thought I had this one down at the start but got better with it along the trip.  I was obsessive about not carrying more than I would need.  I don’t think I realized how much this would alter my life for the next 6 weeks, and for the better.  I got the upmost value out of everything I carried and everything had its place, it was immediately obvious in the morning if I left something behind. The simplicity of it was eye opening.  In response to this one of my biggest pet peeves was getting passed by charter bus style rvs dragging their hummer in the back.  You really don’t experience the world if you bring your satellite tv and own fireplace along with you. 

3. Solitude is underrated.  I think one of the motivators for this trip was to get away from the hectic characteristics of modern life. I know when I’m at work or at home the levels of concentration I can put to one task is highly limited.  There are always distractions be they self imposed or external.  One of the best feelings was being out on the road at sunrise or before and having absolute peace to think or listen. 

4.  This is a vast, diverse country.  I think especially those of us that live in large urban areas forget that much of this country is rural or even empty and this has an effect on how people see.  I think more than ever this urban/rural split is showing itself in our political divisions.  Do not underestimate small town America. Many of these people are smarter and more cultured than us city folk presume to be.  It was eye opening spending nearly all of the last 6 weeks in small towns or vast empty spaces. 

5. I’m very lucky – I get to impose my own challenges on myself and not have awful problems dumped on me.  There is something akin to a “first world problem” when things don’t go exactly your way on your cross country bike trip.  If I had real problems in my life this trip would not of been possible or I guess a priority. Thank you everyone for your help in my stupid adventure! Mom and dad for your support in Kentucky. Thanks other fellow travelers I met along the way – Kevin, Quarlll for the shared misery. Thanks to Max the cook in Connor, Montana for taking the power tools out to fix my cleats. Cooke (Ringlers) thanks for the Kansas fried chicken. Runyon, thanks for being stupid enough to do part of this with me, but not so much to ride down a busy mud highway.  Thank you my support staff for understanding my being gone all summer and listening to me complain and booking motels everyday, and driving along side, giving directions, flying something like 10,000 miles back and forth to see me, love you! 

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2 Responses to Day 43 – Mission Complete

  1. Andrew Fritz says:

    What an incredible trip, Schilling! I love your reflection. I feel like it is a gift to me, too.


  2. Jill says:

    I am a friend of Runyon’s and have been following your trip since he posted on FB he was riding with you. I have gone back and read many of your prior posts since you were in Colorado because I just got so engrossed in your adventure. Jealous, probably…and as Andrew above says – a gift! Congratulations on an amazing accomplishment. I hope you write more reflections when you have time to process and the trip settles. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

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