Cars equal comfort. They make things easier, faster, and less committing. When you drive to the crag or the trailhead, it’s like you’re leaving a safety net in the parking lot. With a bike, not so much. When the day is done or the climb is over, there’s no jumping in the rig and punching the cruise control home. When you’re cycling for transportation, the ride home is as integral a part of the climb as the summit, whether it’s a few blocks home from the gym, or a week-long ride back from the desert. The lesson is this: the climb isn’t over when you reach the top. You’ve still got to get down, you’ve still got to get home. When you’re on the bike, there’s no easy escape, no quick way to pull the plug. This requires commitment and dedication, but it also builds patience and understanding.
This is the last installment in our series of trip reports from the fall’s Pilgrims of Gnar expedition. At 35 days and over 1500 miles of riding, this experience taught us a lot about ourselves, each other, and life on the bike. A journey this long tends to change your perspective and leave you in a daze, but even as you readjust to the world around you, the important lessons and values avoid erosion.