All the way home

Banner image of United States of America map on globe

I have been traveling for more than six years. I’ve pedaled 56,000 km through 38 countries. And now it’s time to bring it home.

I still don’t know exactly why I started this journey. People have always asked and I’ve done my best to say something. But the reasons don’t add up anymore, at least none beyond the fact that I was once 27 and had nothing better to do.

What I do know is why I’m finally comfortable bringing all of this to an end. Travel has given me everything, but its prize is also its fatal flaw. By its very nature, it is impermanent, rootless. A traveler grows nothing but old.

I long to build something that will last. I want a garden, a place where I can sink my hands into the earth and see a season through. I want to be a friend, a brother, a son, and not just a name on a postcard. I want to stop saying goodbye.

I would be lying, too, if I said it wasn’t difficult for me to watch my friends begin to reap the rewards of a more traditional life. I don’t regret going the way I did, but sometimes I can’t help but wonder if the bargain was worth it. They have families and careers and houses on streets named after trees. I have instant noodles and two very questionable knees.

I may never be like them, and that’s okay. It’s time to take what I’ve learned and start being me.

The trick, then, is getting home, and what a trick it will be.

Tomorrow I fly from Auckland to San Francisco. From there, I will keep a promise by pedaling to Duluth, Minnesota, where I once waited for a boat to carry me across the Atlantic. The final push will see me in Manitoba by the middle of October – before the first snow.

I will pedal 4,300 km in just over five weeks. I don’t need to show myself that I can do it. I only want to prove that I can finish.

Banner image based on “057 | 365 July 25, 2011
by Sarah Altendorf, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

24 responses to “All the way home

  1. I love the honesty in your writing, Mike, and you write so well. I hope you find what you are looking for when you get back home … and don’t stop writing! I have shared your blog on a group page, the Cycle Touring Festival, in the UK. The first ever meeting organised for cycle tourists by cycle tourists, which was held earlier in the year. It was such a fantastic weekend, like-minded people meeting and sharing stories / experiences / knowledge. We all so enjoyed it that another meeting is being organised for next year. I’m sure many of those who went will enjoy reading your blog.

    • Thanks for sharing my blog, Christine. The festival sounds like a fantastic idea, something I wish I could see more of in Canada. Our country has plenty of cycle tourists, but we all seem so far apart.

  2. Thanks for the reminder of the good things from being settled because itchy feet never go away. But gardens, community, watching changes from one spot both inside and out are the best. And maybe having a dog! And maybe a mate (pick a good one) and maybe even a kid (oh, that’s been the best of all) What riches await! Just keep writing. You’re really good at it.

    • I think I will always have itchy feet, but right now I need to head home and reconnect with the people who know me best. It’s a feeling I can’t really explain, though I am certain it is right. Thanks again for reading!

  3. All the best Mike, I have followed you from the beginning of your journey, as I get older I realized the key to happiness is to never stop learning and always keep looking forward, no regrets, you have experienced things most of us can only dream of, that is priceless.

    • This hasn’t been the easiest journey to follow (start, stop, start, stop), but the fact that you have been here from the beginning warms my heart. Thank you for reading, and thank you for the advice. You are right: Best foot forward and no regrets.

  4. Hey Mike, the reintegration with life at home is a whole other story. Hope you share your experiences with us. In other news, am just back from 4 months’ pedalling in Central Asia. Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. Michael…this is your Mother!
    We are very proud of you and can’t wait for your arrival home. My special soup, bread, pies, tarts (butter & lemon) are also waiting for your return. Your father has been stock piling the fire wood for you to cut …LOL). Be safe Son…be safe!

    • My mother?!? People should be thanking you for this blog, not me. It was, after all, my way of proving to you that I was still alive. I can’t wait to see you and Dad again. Lemon tarts for firewood seems like a pretty fair deal. Love you.

  6. Jim Morrison of the The Doors states in his music the lyrics,”Have you lived a life they could base a movie on?” Mike certainly can say he has done enough to qualify for a major motion picture. He has lived the life that most mortgage holders wish they could do. Mike your writing is poetry. Your riding is poetry in motion. Hold you head very high when you return to your home roots. I’m looking forward to all of your photos and journals in a book that will inspire others to get out of the easy chair.

    • I don’t often think of my journey as a point of pride, but I must say I am happy that some people have been inspired along the way. If there is a book (and people keep saying there should be), you will get a signed copy. All the very best to you, my friend. 🙂

  7. Will miss reading your blogs once you are ‘done’. Always honest and inspiring. Enjoy the journey home.

  8. You seem at peace. All the best in your travels home and beyond. Life on the hamster wheel ain’t so bad… the routine of it can be a balm. Good luck.

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