With a few weeks of riding behind me, it’s past time I gave an update. Finding both technology and time to get online is a challenge in the small towns. More than anything, I’ve struggled to decide just how thorough a blog to keep. Likely I’ll update more after I hit California. Til then, here’s my first entry from the road!

On May 16th, our Bike and Build team arrived in Jacksonville, Florida for orientation. We learned more about our mission, assigned our daily responsibilities, and built at two Habitat sites to get our hammers wet. Three days later we set out on our first ride for St. Augustine. Now, six weeks and about 1600 miles since then, we’ve crossed through 5 more states and are plowing toward the New Mexico state line.

Each day we cover anywhere from 60 to 100 miles. We have a 120 mile day coming up in a week, as we leave Santa Fe. The daily wear and tear of biking and the lack of sufficient sleep is beginning to take a toll, as knees, muscles, and scrapes aren’t healing as completely as they did at the start. We have a break from the bike at most two days a week, which is spent building or on a rare day off. But for the weariness and the long rides, I’ve loved watching America’s landscape redden and expand as we move West.

Our team is 27 strong- we lost a few to injuries that proved early on how dangerous riding cross-country can be. I’m grateful to have ridden with this group of kids. I learn from them how to stay safe on the road and how to take care of myself. It will be a very different experience to be on my own in a few weeks, but I look forward to that with more confidence, realistic understanding, and determination than before.

For the gear enthusiasts, Hermes is well! A little squeaky after so many miles, so I’m giving him a full check up today at the bike shop across the street. He’s keeping up well with the aluminum Giant bikes, despite being well over 10 pounds heavier. We’re somewhat slower, but we make up for speed in our short breaks and stubbornness. We also have had 0 flats on the road, so the thick Continental tires are a worthy extra bit of friction. Our fellows on gatorskins have had 5 flats in a day, at times, and seem to blow through tubes, literally. I’m glad to have stuck true to Hermes- knowing his ideal sounds and feels is truly one of the most important ways of making sure my bike’s in good shape.

We have felt the magic of a stranger’s extraordinary generosity, the simple wonder of a hot shower, and the effect of a mattress on a good night’s sleep. And with every mile, the next seems both harder and more possible. I’m falling in love every day with the vagabond story. The ideas I had of adventure as a kid make sense in my newly adult world, and I can’t wait to find more.

Also, I’ve added Japan as the first next destination before the rest of Asia. I’ll be booking that flight soon, unless anyone knows someone sailing that way! Let me know if you’ve got a hookup!