Adventure gene, before and during, just go

Dear friends and family,

I thought I’d share some details of  this temporary life I’ve chosen.

0430 alarm goes off

Stretching and breathing exercises and bathroom

Then time to journal and finish setting up the plan for the day.

I do not automatically jump out of bed and be ready for the challenge of the day.

Each day I need to think myself into the motivation to get out of bed and go.

Some people have this “ adventure gene” which is labeled DRD4-7R. It is carried by roughly 20% of all humans, making them more restless, curious, and intrepid by nature. 

When I first came across this idea, I thought that I was lucky to have that, but as I think more deeply about it (I have lots of time to think while riding 4-5 hours per day), I realize that I don’t.

I was never the kid who was first to take a risk, first in the cold water, highest up the tree climb. No, that was never me. I was the kid (and still am that kid) who has to visualize himself being an adventurer that I read about and forcing myself through my fear to do the next step.

Each morning I deal with that fear and anxiety. Shit, what if I cannot make it up the next series of climbs, what if my body finally has had enough and quits on me? What if, what if?

So, I have to go through a series of exercises. First, write in my journal about the image of what and who I want to be. Then go through the stoic framing exercises of what if I don’t do it and what could be worse.

If I don’t go do the next stage of the adventure:

I might die disappointed in myself for missing this opportunity

I am so lucky that I am able, so take advantage of it

I won’t have the material to write about and miss those rewards

I won’t know what my real limits are 

I won’t be able to imagine myself like my image of myself, then I would have to decide who that is

And what’s the worst that can happen?

Then,after I have dealt with all that

0500 eat bananas and peanut butter

Remind myself of the details of the day, distance, hotel, altitude gain, weather forecast

0530 dress, pack panniers, load up bike

0545 push bike down stairs ( usually) out door, suntan lotion, gloves, start gps watch, navigation on phone.

If the start is downhill, feel like, hey, I guess I’ll be strong today.

If it’s uphill, it’s more like, guess my legs haven’t recovered.

Once I’m one mile in,   I’m on my way

Now I am a different person. Whether its bicycling or sailing or rowing, once I get past that first waypoint (typically a mile into a bike ride), then I just go. No more pre-ride anxiety, no more fear. Just go, and deal with whatever could come up. I’ve already gone through all the negative scenarios in my mind (like a good stoic) so I no longer have to “waste a good imagination” on it anymore. 

Yes, it’s hard. The uphills are always challenging, the heat is relentless and starts to come on strong about 0930, so typically about three or four hours into the daily ride. Now the altitude is becoming a factor as I am above a mile high and climbing. Legs don’t seem as strong as I was hoping they would be by now. Lots of pushing the bike when the incline is above about 10%. Have to deal with the local youngsters (30’s) blowing past me on their morning training rides on their racing bikes. Almost feel like complaining.

And then: here I am riding my bicycle solo in the Andes mountains of Colombia. Everyone I stop and talk to is interested in my idea of pedaling long distance and enjoying their country, which they are so proud of. 

The beauty around me is nonstop. Every turn offers something new for me to enjoy. At the top of every road summit is usually a country restaurant to stop and relax, have a tinto (tiny cups of black, sweet coffee) and share info about my trip with truck drivers or farmers. 

And really, I am living this amazing adventurous life. Another culture and language to learn and appreciate. All the people I meet are nice so far. I find using humor to laugh with them as I try my Spanish banishes barriers. Who doesn’t want to laugh with some gringo to start their day?

“Honey, you won’t believe the conversation I had over coffee this morning”

One thing I’ve noticed here is that earlier in the trip, when talking about bicycling across the country, I would kind of make fun of myself and  point to my head and say “loco”. All those people who I’ve said that to got very serious and said “no, no es loco”. It’s a cultural difference here that that type of self- deprecation isn’t appreciated. Makes me wonder whether it should be in our ( USA) culture.

At the end of the morning I show up at a hotel to ask if they can accommodate me with a room, even though it’s several hours before “check in”time. When they see the sweaty, overheated guy, they do what they can to accommodate me. I’ve had to sit in the lobby a couple of times to wait a couple of hours , but they make sure I get a fan on me, plenty of hot coffee and use of their WiFi while I wait. 

Then they tell me where in the lobby I can leave my bike. I strongly let them know that the bike is very important and tell them I am “fuerte” enough to carry it up the stairs to my room. Not much pushback, so they leave me to it. It’s often really hard and I have to be VERY careful not to fall down the stairs with it.

Then time for my cold shower, change into clean, non biking clothes and either go for a meal or take a nap, depending on time of arrival. Maybe even post a blog.

Don’t have to do that again until 0430 next.

The great Climber/Sailor and writer Bill Tilman, in my opinion probably the best at combining those three pursuits, once was asked what it takes to go do the adventures he did. His answer was simply “Lace up your boots and go”. 

I get the idea, but it just might take some of us a bit more.

Sending love,


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3 thoughts on “Adventure gene, before and during, just go”

  1. Love the road surface pictures. I can feel in bumps. Another great story. Keep lacing those boots.

  2. Thou dost protest too much. I think you have the adventure gene. Keep up your adventures, we love reading about it.

  3. Dear Carlos –

    Absolutely love that you’re in an area of Colombia where there are more horses than cars! Congratulations on moving through those moments of doubt into those moments of learning and experiencing new things!



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