We may not all aspire to bikepack from Canada to the Mexican border, summit Everest, race an Ironman, or do something that'll get us on the cover of a magazine, but this doesn't mean our personal yearnings for exploration aren’t worthy pursuits.
What is important is to not let the itch to do something pass without a scratch or two. We must do before the doing can no longer be done.
I believe I am meant to run through mountains, ride across gravel dirt roads and narrow tree-lined trails, immerse myself in the sea, explore less traveled paths, and actively engage in Nature. And, while living my journey, maybe I can put a few sentences together that inspire others to pursue their own path outside.
Someday. One of these years. When I have more time.
I've softly spoken these words in disdain many times over the accruing decades. Before this year comes to an end I'll be 55. Fifty Five. Five Five. Five and one-half decades roaming this earth. More than half a century. Whoa!
When I was in my teens 40 seemed over-the-hill. Now I'm still climbing to reach new peaks. I'm confident I have many good and active years ahead of me, but I must acknowledge that the years behind me now outnumber those ahead.
Happily, I'll continue to push my body, and mind, further.
Gratefully, I'll challenge my resolve and resilience.
With awe and respect, I'll step into the mountains and submerge myself beneath salted seas.
What I won't do is wait.
I challenge you, reader, to not wait. I challenge you to muster the courage to become the person you feel you're meant to be.
You are reading these words so I'll assume that a physical challenge moves you (literally) — to be better. The growth a physical challenge offers extends into every facet of our lives. When you challenge yourself on the road or trail you may find yourself better equipped to challenge yourself at work, within your relationships, and in your community.
When planning the year, aside from perhaps an organized event or race, I urge you to schedule some of what we like to label downshift adventures. For some, it's important to have specific racing goals to keep us committed to our training, to test ourselves, and to engage in the community, but crafting yearly personal projects is a good way to stay healthy and fresh, both physically and mentally.
Downshifted adventures challenge us in ways that an organized race may not. They require more planning. One must engage in route research, travel plans, sleep requirements and decisions such as tent, bivy or hotel options, as well as important food and hydration requirements. If attempting a multi-day adventure project by foot or bicycle, there is the challenge of fine tuning our gear selection. For example, Susan's small frame (body and bike) limit the size backpack or frame packs she can carry. Take it from us, you'll want to dial this in and test everything before a three-day trip to avoid stopping every hour to adjust bags.
Choose projects that take you out of your comfort zone, but don't jump right into stressful and anxiety inducing situations. If you're a city road runner who hasn't experienced trails in the forest or mountains, plan a few afternoon summer runs in some of the spectacular mountain ranges the United States has to offer. Then map out a whole weekend of adventure.
This past year, Susan and I put together a number of multi-day gravel riding trips, a long three-day bikepack adventure, and a roadtrip with trail running excursions in Mammoth, CA and Bend, OR. We tied-the-knot and treated ourselves to an epic honeymoon week of running in the Sawtooth and Teton mountain ranges. And, we finished up the year with an extended weekend of sunny road rides in Tucson, AZ.
I share this to demonstrate that we each have permission to craft our own downshift adventures. How we define adventure is personal. The only requirements are to engage in Nature and to push yourself beyond your comforts in order to grow and learn.
Our goals for 2024 are to continue to prioritize downshift adventures, and as well, have a more keen focus on crafting an environment that supports aging well and living simply, curiously and adventurously.
With that, it's time to plan. We'll be moving (yes, again) in February. Our time this past Fall in Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming reminded us of our love for mountain adventures and small towns. Susan and I will sit down and formalize our projects for 2024 and share those shortly.
In the meantime — keep moving folks. You're meant to enjoy this life.