I’ve recently been introduced to the Greek philosopher, Seneca, who said, “Everywhere means nowhere. When a person spends all his time in foreign travel, he ends by having many acquaintances, but no friends.” [Letters from a Stoic (Amazon Affiliate Link), 2.2] This quote completely took me by surprise. He summarized the conflicting thoughts and feelings that I have been struggling with in my own head.
You see, this last year was definitely one for the books as I was able to be on the road for 6 months and saw so much of the United States on both bicycle and car. Towards the end, I finally felt what I can only describe as being “homesick”. Ever since I began this alternative lifestyle in 2014, I had never felt the need or desire to come back home to be grounded again.
When I made it back to Los Angeles in October 2017, I went into a deep internal exploration of who I am and what matters to me most at this point in my life. I’ve reconnected with family and friends in person. I’ve solidified the bonds I have with them, and then I spent a lot of time reflecting introspectively. That is why I have been lackluster in producing blog posts, videos, and updating social media lately.
I also realized I’ve only written 2 blog posts in 2017, last year’s “Year in Review” and the “Kindness Over Chicken” post. This made me wonder why I stopped. So in the interest of doing this year’s “Year in Review,” I am going to explore this topic to end with a viable conclusion and recommit myself to a more creative 2018.
My 2017 Highlights
When it comes to the time spent away from a home base, 2017 was a marquee year. As I mentioned before, I was away for half of the year. Here is what happened.
- I rode across the country on the Southern Tier route from the last week of March until the first week of June. I rode through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. This trip was called the Tour de Forty as both my brother-in-law, Sang Hyun, and I had turned 40 years old during the duration of the trip. I was able to fundraise $3000 for my own crowdsourcing campaign. Half of the proceeds went to the John Ritter Research Program in Aortic & Vascular Disease at the University of Texas’ Health Department to help the ongoing research and detection of aortic dissection, which claimed my father’s life in 2012. We had the opportunity to meet so many kind souls on the road and fulfilled our dream of riding across America from west to east. I made daily video blogs for the entire trip and quickly built up an audience of 2000+ subscribers in those 3 months. Also my first time in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida (plus Disney World too).
- I went on my first bike tour with Adventure Cycling Association, which took place at the end of July in Frisco, Colorado called the Colorado Classic Hill Country. This one week tour took us over some of the highest elevation in the country as we rode through towns like Walden, Steamboat Springs, Glenwood Springs, Aspen, and Leadville. Here are a few videos I’ve put together with my experience.
- Opting not to travel back home after the Colorado trip, I decided to spend 1 week exploring the Denver area and then another week riding up to Rapid City, South Dakota. I floated around multiple homes of fellow Adventure Cycling leaders, Warmshowers hosts, and AirBNBs. After a week of doing that, I hit the road to do a solo bike tour that took me through Boulder and Fort Collins, Colorado, Cheyenne and Hawk Springs, Wyoming, Scottsbluff and Harrison, Nebraska, and then finally through the Black Hills into Rapid City.
- I was in Nebraska when the Great American Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017, took place. I was fortunate to be crossing paths with the eclipse’s (100%) totality journey. I wasn’t even planning on witnessing this event, but just so happened to be at the right place at the right time. Luckily, with some convincing by neighboring campers, I was able to experience the eclipse’s totality that day. This was my most favorite event of the year.
- I finally got to ride the Mickelson Trail in the Black Hills and saw old towns like Deadwood, Hill City, and Custer in South Dakota at the end of August. I visited Mount Rushmore and, more impressively, the Crazy Horse Memorial. I also drove through the Custer State Park and saw herds of wild bisons roam the prairie land.
- After the Black Hills, I had to make a few equipment deliveries for Adventure Cycling that took me across Wyoming and Montana to Missoula where the Adventure Cycling headquarters are located. I then drove back across Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and a bit of Texas to deliver a van for another tour. I hopped on a plane and flew back home right after Labor Day.
- I spent only a week in Los Angeles before I got in my personal car, a Honda Fit, and drove across the country on my own for a week. I took this opportunity to experiment (and experience) living in my car for the duration of my trip there and back. On my way there, I did “free camping” at BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land and Walmarts, as well as stayed with some friends. I made my way through Denver, Chicago, and Ithaca before reaching the final destination of Burlington, Vermont. I visited Cleveland for the first time in my life and slept in an Airstream camper for the first time in my life in Ithaca.
- In Vermont, I did my first Inn-to-Inn tour for Adventure Cycling. This is probably one of my favorite kind of tours where I got to ride every single mile that my riders rode. However, as the tour leader, I had to carry all their food & gear for lunch preparation, as well as first aid kits in addition to my own personal gear. We stayed at very nice hotels after each day’s ride, so no camping gear was required for this trip. Dinner and breakfast were paid for by the budget, and we did not skimp on anything. We ate very well! Did I mention that I was the only tour leader?
- After the week-long ride around Vermont and parts of New Hampshire, we made it back to Burlington, where I was reunited with my car. This time, I had some time to drive back west. I visited and stayed with friends in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Knoxville. In Knoxville, my friend Sharon took me on a day-long tour through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, and Pigeon Forge. I visited Washington D.C. for the 2nd time in my life, met new friends in Nashville, enjoyed Memphis barbecue in Memphis, visited the Oklahoma City Memorial in Oklahoma City, and hiked around the “Texas Grand Canyon” Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo. I only paid for camping in New Mexico and lived in my car for the entire 2 weeks. Thank goodness for Walmart parking lots!
- I finally biked over 5000 miles in one year and ended 2017 with 5375.6 miles ridden. I was close in previous years but finally cracked that goal without even really tracking it this year.
What Did I Do Right
My thirst for adventure and exploring was quenched in a big way in 2017. Between the Tour de Forty, 3 Adventure Cycling bike tours, and my cross-country road trip to Vermont and back, I can say I am ready to stay put for a while. Because I deliberately prioritized travel in my life, the Universe gave me all the travel to my heart’s content.
I am so lucky to be able to see and experience things that can easily fill up a person’s lifetime. I am grateful to be healthy and to afford the choices I am making. Some may say I’ve wasted my education going to a 4-year college and working at 2 movie studios, but I believe all that has happened in exactly the way and order it was meant to happen. You see, the fact that I had a fruitful career in IT allowed me to save up money that in turn allowed me to pursue the opportunities I have right now. Although I may not be making enough money to move ahead financially, I have the peace of mind that the nest egg I saved up has helped me to continue to live a rich life. I would never trade this for anything (except maybe to have my father alive…but we can’t always get what we want).
I am also glad that I’ve stuck to my commitment to riding across the country when I turned 40 years old. For a brief moment in 2016 when I was first planning this trip, the familiar pangs of fear took hold of me for a quick moment. Instead of letting that fear take over and making lame excuses for not forging ahead, I pushed all the negativity to the side and stuck to my guns. I was going to ride across the country under my own power, and I was going to raise money and awareness for the disease that took my father. I made this promise to him and myself when he passed, so there was absolutely no way I was going to waiver of my intentions. I am so glad I did it and succeeded.
I also challenged myself during this trip to make daily video blogs (vlogs) as I went along. I am a big Casey Neistat fan and when I saw him do daily vlogs, I was inspired. I couldn’t wait for the next day to watch his interesting life unfold through the comfort of my laptop screen. With Casey as my compass, Sang Hyun and I each brought 2 types of cameras to film our entire trip. The viewership grew steadily as the comments flowed in day after day. I soon had a following of 2000 subscribers. People were asking for the next “episode” when we were behind in our posting. I had a captive audience who was hanging on until the next video in the queue. This proved to me that posting interesting content consistently builds that audience that I wanted to influence and help. I was able to streamline my video editing process and quickly figured out what worked and what didn’t work. There will be a future post or video on this topic alone, so you must stay tuned.
Lessons I’ve Learned
So with all the successes of the year in travel and the plethora of amazing experiences, why I am I not doing it more? Well, that has been the big question for the past 3 months. The only conclusion I can come up with is: Being that I had so many good experiences, I need more time to process it all. It’s my introverted nature to think about things, to analyze things, to find the lesson in life, and then do it all over again and again until I am ready to write. So that’s where we are right now.
During this time, I thought I needed to leave Los Angeles as I thought my tribe was in Missoula, Montana or Fort Collins, Colorado. Whenever I am on the road, I always ask myself, “Can I live here?” as I pass through the hundreds of towns. The answer is usually, “No”… until I was in Missoula and Fort Collins. Things made sense there. People had the same values as I did. They enjoyed the outdoors. They were the same things as I was into. They loved to explore and travel. I can finally explain what I’m doing and talk about bike touring without people glazing over what that means. But then, I came across Seneca’s quote (above) and that totally reset my thinking. I don’t need to move to be with my tribe. I already have the tribe in Los Angeles. I just had to choose to be around them. I had to be intentional and be with the people who I want to be with. Plus, you just can’t beat the weather here and I would miss my family if I moved.
With this recent revelation, I am building a foundation of things I need to work on for the coming year and for my future. Now that I am done traveling and floating, I want to build a legacy. I want to share with others how I am able to transform my 9-5 work life to a life of rich experiences. I want to help others see the world as I did. I want others to hear the things that I’ve heard. I want others to know that you don’t have to be rich or retired to do the things that I am doing. I know that it is my responsibility to share with you my own experiences, and hopefully inspire a few people along the way.
Looking Forward to 2018
As mentioned previously, I am also working on an Amazon business on the side since 2016. The business has been growing despite it being a lower priority to Milestone Rides activities last year. I have thought long and hard and concluded that this business needs to be my highest priority in 2018. This means I have to put more effort into growing and expanding it rather than focusing all my efforts on Milestone Rides.
I need to be able to focus on something that is generating consistent income for me to make a living and so far my other company is able to do that for me. It would be irresponsible for me to ignore this fact and not put in some time to expand and develop my company.
So you’re probably wondering, “What does this mean to Milestone Rides?” It’s not going to be Amazon all the time. I think when I am not working in the other business or doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (another passion I’ve discovered recently), I’ll be focused on Milestone Rides. Here are a few things that I am committing to in 2018.
- MilestoneRides.com will be relaunched! It’s about time that this website gets a good facelift. I’m shooting for this to be done in February.
- I will write more. It is through writing where I can express myself openly. Not only in blog posts but also writing scripts for my YouTube videos.
- I am writing a book. It is going to be about bike touring around Los Angeles. More information will be revealed as I get close to finishing the first draft.
Don’t forget about the Adventure Cycling Tours for this year…
2018 Adventure Cycling Tours
I am given the chance to ride across the country once again, twice even. This time I get to start in Chicago. The first time will be on June 9th, where I will be leading a group from Chicago to New York City. This tour will be a van-supported tour, and we’ll be riding across through Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and finally New York! I’m really excited about this one as it is one of the newest routes created by Adventure Cycling Association.
I then fly back to Chicago on September 9th and start my journey on Route 66! This epic ride is also a van supported trip, where we will be riding until October 29th to Santa Monica, California. I’ll get to visit all the historical landmarks made famous by the old route and see places that once flourished with visitors from all over the country. It’s another one of those rides on my bucket list that I’ve been wanting to do, so I’m looking forward to it.
If you’re wanting to go on your own little adventure and have the means and time to do so, sign up and you’ll get to spend some quality time with me and another Adventure Cycling tour leader. There will be stories to be told and memories to be made!
One Other Thing…
I have also relinquished my duty as the leader of the Los Angeles Self-Supported Bike Touring MeetUp Group. This group is now led by one of my members, Allyn Rice, who has opened up the focus of the group to the entire West Coast. It’ll include more multi-day trips instead of overnighters.
I felt that the group accomplished the goals of introducing people in Southern California to bike touring, and I made a lot of great friends in the process. I did not plan a lot of trips in 2017 due to me being away for so much, but luckily, I had folks who carried on the tradition. I didn’t want my absence to be a burden on the group, so it made more sense for me to let others lead. This doesn’t mean I won’t be around. I’ll certainly be looking forward to attending some of these rides as a participant.
2017 was, again, one of the best years of my life, but I think 2018 will be a good transition year. I’ll be able to travel and work on projects that will bring value to everyone who visits this blog or my YouTube channel. If there is anything else you would like for me to cover here, don’t hesitate to reach out to me through the “Contact” page.
Thank you all for being on this journey with me. I can’t wait to help you, through your own experiences, go on your own milestone ride.