Without fanfare, I glided down the last mile of US 80

When: April 19, 2022 | Where: Tybee Island, Georgia
Miles Cycled: 3,330 | Days on the Road: 120

I finished. On April 19th, I wheeled onto Tybee Island, just south of the mouth of the Savannah River. Without fanfare, I glided down the last mile of US 80, which had been my off-and-on path since I’d first laid wheels on it leaving El Centro California, a month into my “ramble.”

I felt calmly satisfied. I knew I had completed what I’d set out to do. That it had been hard. That I had exceeded the physical envelope in which I’d slowly sealed myself over the years prior. I’d rediscovered parts of myself… and uncovered… or maybe created new parts.

I had left home in the aftermath of much trauma. Trauma that haunted me through many hundreds of miles of solitary endurance. I didn’t bury the trauma, but I had managed to find a place for it in the patchwork of my experience that I could live with.

It was quiet on Tybee, a summer beach destination not yet emerged from hibernation. My thoughts and feelings were shared with no one as I pedaled the last mile and a half to the end of the highway.

Passing the end of US 80 — the Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway — a short trip through a residential neighborhood brought me to the final turn that led to a boardwalk.

Julie had passed me coming over the bridge, and was parked and waiting where the asphalt ended. We each filmed my approach from opposite perspectives.

I’d met Julie more than 3 months earlier, in Palmdale, California, and she had travelled to meet me at several places along the route. Most recently, we had met in Montgomery, Alabama, where we celebrated her birthday, and she had followed me for the final 300 miles. The trek had started in isolation, but had been a shared journey for most of the way. Seeing her there at the finish line, the completion of one journey was inextricably joined with the beginning of another.

We walked Juan Sebastian out over the sand together, and she filmed the ceremonial dipping of the tires in the waters of the Atlantic. We would spend the following week sightseeing and making our way back to Montgomery, where we had booked our flights home.

At some point during the course of the trip, wrestling with whether to post my exploits on social media… perpetually aware that I hadn’t maintained my story through “Lemuel’s Ramble” as I’d intended, I came to realize that I needed this to be a mostly private experience. At least in the short term… while it was happening, I needed to undergo the struggle for myself, without the implied external commitments inherent in sharing it.

Of course I shared it with Julie… and a handful of my closest friends and family tracked my progress. But it was my journey. The things I needed to prove were things I needed to prove to myself and nobody else. I’d lived my trauma alone, and whatever validation I needed was internal.

Nearly 2 months later, typing on my phone from a boat in the Seychelles, I’m beginning to feel like sharing. I’ll save the story of how I end up in the planet’s remote places for another time, but as I rest here, surrounded by beauty, I’m pondering the ways in which my journey might help shine a light for others.

I had a lot of time to think and feel on the road. I think some of those thoughts and feelings may have value for others. I’m going to set about slowly figuring out how best to do that now.

Still Pedaling

When: Match 28, 2022 | Where: Natchitoches, Louisiana
Miles Cycled: 2,473 | Days on the Road: 98

In early February, I spent a few nights in Scottsdale, Arizona. I was stressed out because I hadn’t been finding time to post to Lemuel’s Ramble. I was also having difficulty managing all the gear (especially the camping gear) and packing on a day-to-day basis.

A friend suggested that cycling across a continent might be enough for the moment. Maybe the blog needed to wait. Maybe the rigors of camping on top of the straightforward difficulty of the cyldle were more than I needed to take on at once.

I’d been thinking a lot about my adhd, and how it truly has impacted me… how I’d forced my way through life by pounding my head against it.

After some time to consider it, I took the advice. I sent the camping gear home, and resolved to document my journey and thoughts after I’d accomplished what I’d set out to do.

A lot has happened since I last wrote, starting with 2000+ miles I’ve cycled. I will write about it all at length in the months ahead. For now, as I was sitting here having hotel room coffee for the umpteenth time, just a quick hello to anyone still listening to let you know I’m still going, and that things are going well.

It’s less than 900 miles from here to Savannah, Georgia, where I intend to wrap things up. I’m much stronger, and a bit lighter than I was when I last updated. And I’m feeling positive about the journey so far, and about what remains of it.

More to come… but maybe not for a few weeks. 🙂

I will seriously sober up tomorrow. Just so we can have this conversation.

When: August 8, 2018 | Where: Home

On August 9th, 2018, I began my first day of sobriety. I was more or less alone. Angela and I had separated nearly 2 months earlier. She had gone back to her home town to search for her own sobriety. I had stayed behind to find mine in the midst of the construction zone that our house had become over the 2 months before her departure.

For nearly 2 months after her departure, I had stopped drinking, started again, and thoroughly convinced myself that the death spiral I’d entered was a controlled descent that was all simply part of my plan to get clean.

I was alone, save for the comings and goings of contractors and my terrier, Rascal, who would keep her body in contact with mine on whichever patch of level space we could find to sit or sleep… and drink. 

Myself… Contractors… Rascal… and one other person. A voice in the ether, who had asked how I was months earlier, and had received an honest answer.  Who had continued to remind me that someone cared as my life disintegrated.

Robin was there.  As the 19 days of my final binge accumulated, and darkness muffled everything else, her voice remained present… three time  zones distant, but present all the same.

What happened the night of August 8th won’t be written up in anybody’s guide on how to get sober. Nobody will vouch for the ethics of either one of us or praise us for any high ideals.

But, it IS my story. It IS how I found sobriety… and how I began to reclaim and restore myself. At 6:46 pm on August 8th, 2018, I grabbed an imperfect but outstretched hand.  This is how it happened.

Robin: 3:09 PM
Awe. See? You should listen to us.

Lemuel: 3:09 PM
I definitely should have.

I really never thought you gave me a second thought.

Robin: 3:11 PM
Not so.

Lemuel: 3:12 PM
Allen clued me in later, when I was in college, and we had kind of a disastrous date at that point. But, I never realized.

Robin: 3:12 PM
What do you mean?

He clued you in. Oh, Lord. Ha ha

Lemuel: 3:13 PM
Do you remember the date we had, when I came home from LA? I was kind of all over you, and you were feeling (I think) a bit used?

Robin: 3:14 PM
The gun point night?

Lemuel: 3:14 PM
Was that the same night? I thought gun-point was still high school.

Robin: 3:16 PM
I don’t know if it was the same night, but I remember both. Gun point night was in collage. We bought beer from Tony at 7-11. That’s why we were at Carter’s parents house because he was home from school, too.

When the SWAT guy wanted to kill us

Lemuel: 3:18 PM
I think they were different nights. I owe you an apology for the night I’m talking about. I was at my most selfish.

Robin: 3:19 PM
I don’t remember ever feeling used by you. Did I tell Allen about that?

Lemuel: 3:19 PM
No.

Robin: 3:20 PM
It didn’t sound like anything i would have shared with anyone. What did I tell him?

Lemuel: 3:21 PM
I just felt it. And I felt sick about it. I’m a guy. Guys are dicks. I was looking for one thing that night.

You didn’t say anything to Allen after.

Robin: 3:23 PM
I’m kind of surprised that bothered me . I completely adored you.

Lemuel: 3:23 PM
DAMN! WHY DIDN”T YOU GIVE IT UP?? kidding

Robin: 3:23 PM
Right?!?! What was I thinking?!?!?!

Lemuel: 3:24 PM
I know what I was thinking.

Robin: 3:24 PM
What did Alien clue you in about. Was I pathetically moping around school after you left? . That’s kind of embarrassing.

Lemuel: 3:26 PM
No. He just said you were still into me. Nothing more; nothing less.

Robin: 3:26 PM
I just wrote collage ️.

Lemuel: 3:26 PM
And, I tried to use that to get laid.

In all honesty

Robin: 3:27 PM
I’m pretty proud of myself then, albeit surprised.

And Alien instead of Allen. Good grief my eyes are old. 🙄

Robin: 3:34 PM
I wish we could have been more honest back then, but that’s youth for ya.

I don’t really believe that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe everything is a teachable moment. It makes us who we are. Maybe we are of much more use to each other now than we would have been then. (Although, one night wouldn’t have hurt. 🤔)

Lemuel: 3:36 PM
One night wouldn’t have hurt at all.

Back to the stationwagon…. my first night ever being intimate with a girl. Sorry I forgot about the star… but I’ve got other memories.

Robin: 3:41 PM
All good, I hope. 🤭

Lemuel: 3:43 PM
You talk about bullshit? I’d love to hear my sales pitch about that star. Cause I guarantee you my thoughts were somewhere closer.

Robin: 3:45 PM
Ha ha ha ha, I’m sure mine were, too. You don’t have to carry all of the shame.

Lemuel: 4:07 PM
Are we flirting?

Robin: 4:07 PM
Btw, Kathy was the aide for my English class so I rarely went. I failed the class and had to go to night school.

Lemuel: 4:07 PM
Haha

Robin: 4:07 PM
We certainly don’t need to be.

I got an A. Just sayin’.

I don’t know what we’re doing. I know it’s been nice catching up with you the past few days. If at any point we need to stop, say the word. We don’t need labels, though, do we? I mean, we aren’t canned goods! 🙄

Lemuel: 5:08 PM
I have ZERO desire to stop talking with you. Just got off phone with Angela. Very nice call,k but she and Sherrie were really drunk. So, I’m kind of in outer space.

Lemuel: 5:19 PM
No bullshit, riight? My marital situation is uncertain, to sayt the least. I’ve established that one of the biggest mistakes I ever made in my life was “dumping” you. You’ve said that you and Brad aren’t married.

Getting that I’m a disaster right now, is this something worth pursuing? My assumption is that you’re happy, so I haven’t even raised the issue… but,..

Jesus, this must sound crazy. I just felt us getting close to flirting, and figured better to get it out there now than later on.

Lemuel: 5:20 PM
If this is not something to pursue, I hope to hell you’ll still be my close friend. Just wondering if I should be thinking about more.

Robin: 5:24 PM
You’re going to have to give me a few minutes. I’m surrounded by my entire family at the moment. Be right back.

Lemuel: 5:25 PM
Awesome. Glad I caught you at such a perfect moment.

HEY EVERYONE!!

Robin: 5:25 PM
Our timing was never very good.

Lemuel: 5:27 PM
Sorry. Laughing my ass off at getting a message like that in the middle of all the fam. So sorry

Robin: 5:31 PM
SAME!!! My mother’s always loved you, though.

Lemuel: 5:31 PM
Let me be more clear this time. I AM interested. I may have uderstated that previously, but I don’t want to make the same mistake twice.

Robin: 5:32 PM
You’re killing me right now. . Did I mention my whole family is here?

Lemuel: 5:33 PM
Do they like juggling acts? I can do that.

Robin: 5:33 PM
Who now think I’m ready to be admitted because I can’t stop laughing at the irony.

I really have missed you.

Lemuel: 5:37 PM
How might it work? You’ve got kids. I obviously can;t be like this around them. Your youngest is what? 6? I’d have to learn to be a parent. I’m soooo willing to do that stuff.

Leaving Angela isn’t a huge hurtle. We’re half way there. I have NO idea of your own situation.

Sorry. HI FAMILY!

Robin: 5:40 PM
🤪

Almost bedtime.

Lemuel: 5:43 PM
Don’t know what’s going on there, but please don’t leave me hanging. I think I know part of the answer from you non-response. I hope its what I think it is.

Robin: 5:43 PM
I won’t leave you hanging.

Lemuel: 5:44 PM
Thanks

Robin: 5:48 PM
How much did you drink today?

Lemuel: 5:48 PM
So far?

So far?

Maybe 3 glasses of wine.

Robin: 5:49 PM
Okay

Lemuel: 5:50 PM
I’d call myself inebriated. Not fucked up.

Robin: 6:08 PM
I’m baaaaaack.

I’m going to go in order, starting with Angela.

Lemuel: 6:09 PM
I’m here

Robin: 6:09 PM
What the fuck is Sherrie thinking. Aren’t you incredibly angry with her?

Lemuel: 6:13 PM
As I said, she’s really flawed. Oops

Robin: 6:14 PM
We all are, but Goddamn, you’re way kinder in your explanation than I would be.

Moving on…

…and getting real. You tell me frequently that you love your wife. Do you love your wife or do you love who you believe your wife is capable of being?

Lemuel: 6:20 PM
Good question. I’m not certain of the anaswer

I don’t know.

Lemuel: 6:25 PM
I’m awake and listening now

Robin: 6:25 PM
That seems very real an honest.

I can’t give you all of the answers that you want. I’ve already broken a huge self-imposed rule with you and, given time, I’m sure I’d be willing to break even more. There are so many X factors in both of our lives. I don’t even know where to start or what to think really.

I know I want to see you in October. I would love another chance at a better night than we’ve had in the past.

I know I love talking to you and I miss you dearly.

I also know how much I appreciate the fact that we can pick up where we left off 30 years ago.

Robin: 6:32 PM
But you’re married and I know you love her dearly. I also know that you are in a seriously bad place in your alcoholism. There are reasons AA does not allow male/female sponsorships.

Lemuel: 6:35 PM
I don’t know where Angela and I end up. That was part of the deal when she left. She told me she was going to sleep with her married ex.

…if I have a chance to unscrew a situation, I will jump into your arms tomorrow.

Robin: 6:36 PM
I need time. I don’t want to be your back up plan.

Lemuel: 6:37 PM
Jesus. That isn’t it at all.

Robin: 6:37 PM
Wait, why would she say something like that to you?!?!

But she also told you 2 days ago she wanted to come home.

Lemuel: 6:38 PM
Don’t know. It was kind of hurtful but honest.

Robin: 6:39 PM
So no matter what the deal was when she left, things are clearly fluid.

Lemuel: 6:40 PM
So… I’m not wrong to pursue you?

Given that I have to sort my stuff out.

Robin: 6:42 PM
I am super hesitant to have this conversation with you while you’re drinking.

Lemuel: 6:43 PM
Okay. Will you talk to me honestly when I sober up?

Robin: 6:44 PM
Absolutely. I would love to.

Lemuel: 6:46 PM
Wow. I will seriously sober up tomorrow. Just so we can have this conversation.

Robin: 6:49 PM
You’re so easy.

I need to change my password for messenger but I’m not sure how.

Robin: 6:55 PM
I can’t remember my password and I’m afraid I’ll get locked out so I stopped .

Lemuel: 6:55 PM
So easy… lol. But I am very in to you, and apparently I fucked it up pretty badly the first time. I’d like a second chance. If one is actually available, I just won the lottery.

Robin: 6:55 PM
Did she sleep with him?

Lemuel: 6:56 PM
No

Robin: 6:56 PM
You didn’t fuck up.

Lemuel: 6:57 PM
My feelings for you are entirely independent from that.

Robin: 6:57 PM
I believe you.

Lemuel: 6:58 PM
Thank you.

Robin: 6:58 PM
Tell me something funny.

Lemuel: 6:59 PM
Bear shits in the woods. Looks at bunny, and asks, “does the shit stick to your fur?” Bear wipes his ass with the bunnie…

Sorrie.. bunny was supposed to say “no.”

Robin: 7:01 PM
That makes so much more sense

Lemuel: 7:04 PM
Poor fucking bunny. I mean the bear just needs something to get him from a to b. Utilitarian. But hey! Here’s this bunny rabbit. Might as well ask.

Dunno. Funniest thing in my head.

Robin: 7:04 PM
That’ll work.

Lemuel: 7:05 PM
I’ll sober up for you. Then, we can talk for real?

Robin: 7:06 PM
It was super sweet of him to ask, you know. Most people don’t ask others if it’s okay to shit on them or wipe their ass with them.

Yes, for real.

Lemuel: 7:06 PM
Bears are very polite

Robin: 7:07 PM
Yogi always shared his pic-a-nic basket.

Lemuel: 7:09 PM
I’m grateful you’re sweet on me, and I WILL do my best… but I’m no catch. Hope you don’t regret this.

Robin: 7:09 PM
I don’t regret you.

Lemuel: 7:11 PM
Well, I’m gonna do my damndest to see where this leads. You’re amazing.

10/9: sober up

… for Robin.

No… for me

Robin: 7:13 PM
I was just going to say that.

Lemuel: 7:13 PM
But you are providing extra motivation.

Quick Update

When: January 24, 2022 | Where: Palm Desert, California
Miles Cycled: 550| Days on the Road: 36

Just a quick post to update my progress. Three long days of pedaling brought me a little over 150 miles from Palmdale to Thousand Palms (there are a lot of palms in the region), where I got my handlebars replaced over the weekend. Had a few days off, waiting for parts and for the actual upgrade, and then gave the new bars an easy workout yesterday, coasting to Palm Desert.

I’m heading for Salton Sea today, where facilities are few. Most likely be camping tonight, and then off to Brawley, California tomorrow for a night or two in a hotel before the long desert trek to Phoenix.

You probably wouldn’t take me for someone who gets hurt easily

When: January 17 , 2022 | Where: Palmdale, California
Miles Cycled: 382 | Days on the Road: 28

***Writing this on my second night in Palmdale, after summiting the highest climb (3,237 feet) I’m likely to see on this side of the Mississippi.***

I’m probably the biggest guy you’ve ever seen on a bike.  I’m without a doubt the slowest guy on the road (at least I haven’t passed anyone yet). I am very likely the most sincere and genuine person you will ever meet. I’m kind and compassionate.

I’m smarter than most.  But, I often get out of the shower, having forgotten to rinse the soap off.   ADHD often makes me scattered.  I can be talking to someone, start a sentence, veer into a series of tangents, and find myself still talking several minutes later, completely unaware of what my point was. I think the people who know me well think it’s endearing.

My sense of empathy is sometimes a burden; sometimes I feel what others feel so strongly it hurts. 

I’m a pleaser, and seek approval.  I wouldn’t have really believed that about myself prior to getting sober.  Or even for some lengthy period of time after that. I remember coming to the realization around Thanksgiving of 2020, and still taking a couple of months to actually believe it.  I saw a meme recently that said,

“A child who can sense that they’re not living up to their parents’ expectations becomes the adult who betrays themselves for validation.”

Reading it, I felt like I got hit in the solar plexus. It seemed to explain too much about me.

I’m big (as noted), and I have a booming voice.  You probably wouldn’t take me for someone who gets hurt easily, but I am.  I got hurt deeply before I left.  That’s too big a topic for this post. Suffice that it’s made me question my most deeply-held beliefs and principles.

By the time I left, my voyage of physical health and self-discovery had become as much about escaping and forgetting. I left 5 days before Christmas, because the idea of Christmas… the idea of celebrating anything felt like a giant and cruel practical joke to me.  I wanted no part of it.

Rejection hypersensitivity is a common trait among those with ADHD. The first time I read that, I burst into tears.  For the truth of it, and for the myriad ways rejection has seemed to seek me out over the course of my life, from the extreme bullying I endured in elementary school and my parents’ apathy about it, to the machinations my father’s fifth wife went through to exclude me from his funeral.

My Ramble is not a feel-good story right now. Maybe it will become one, but I’ve always sought what’s real, and that’s what I’ll strive to give you as this progresses 

At the moment, I’m taking refuge in the business of undertaking this excursion. The actual cycling and the logistics of being on the road and navigating across a continent have added up to a lot of work. After managing that, creating “Lemuel’s Ramble,” and trying to build it into something worthwhile has taken up what time remains.

I will say that my state of mind has generally improved over the past 4 weeks of cycling.  I was feeling thoroughly alienated from most things when I rolled out of my driveway alone.  Much of that has worn away as I’ve used some of my time to reconnect with friends, and to make new connections

My physical strength has improved a lot, and with accomplishment… even accomplishment that’s still largely unshared… has come some positive energy. 

A friend asked if there had been any moments where I wanted to quit, or felt like this was crazy.  Oddly, that sounded like a foreign concept to me. 

When I left, there wasn’t much for me at all at home.  I felt compelled to be gone from there, and to get on with the business of this quest as soon as was possible.  Nobody would confuse me with Tony Robbins at this point, but I can say that I’m exactly where I want and need to be. The idea of going “home” sounds terrible.

I’m changing Juan Sebastian’s handlebars

When: January 15 , 2022 | Where: Santa Clarita, California
Miles Cycled: 349 | Days on the Road: 26

I named my bike Juan Sebastian, after Juan Sebastian Elcano, the Basque man who captained the first ship to circumnavigate the planet, as it returned to Spain nearly 3 years after it left with 4 sister ships, and a different captain, whose name is better remembered: Ferdinand Magellan.

Magellan had been killed in the Philippines more than a year earlier, when he got involved in a war between rival local tribes. He never saw the Indian Ocean.  And, it’s likely that he never intended to complete the circumnavigation in the first place, as the expedition was only supposed to find an alternate route to the Spice Islands.

In any case, it seems like an historical injustice that Elcano, who was convicted of mutiny earlier in the expedition and stripped of his rank by Magellan, has been forgotten by most.  He, and the other 17 men from the original 270 who returned to Spain with him, accomplished what was probably the greatest navigational feat in the history of sailing.

Like Elcano — because, if I make it to the Atlantic, my name should be equally anonymous — I’ve had to make adjustments as I’ve traveled.  He dealt with fallen masts, torn mainsails, scurvy, hostile islanders, cyclones and the rival Portuguese… I’ve got super sore wrists from a handlebar set up that wasn’t made for my body.

A few days ago, shopping for parts in Ventura, in an attempt to simply raise the drop bars that Juan Sebastian came with, I realized that there isn’t actually any height at which these bars are going to be comfortable.  They’re too narrow, the brakes and shifters are in a spot that’s not natural for my hands, and there’s really only one place I can put my hands. 

So, I made the decision to go big, and replace the drop bars with with the Jones Loop H Bar.  It’s a drastic change, and I think it will have a major impact on my ride comfort.  Super wide, with all sorts of different places to put not only my hands, but extra gear, it will allow me to ride in a more upright position, which has been impossible with the drops.

It turns out not to be easy to swap out handlebars in the middle of an expedition. In addition to changing the handlebars themselves, you have to get different shifters that accommodate the different style of bar, and also work with your derailleurs. You also need different brake levers. 

And, you need someone to do the work who’s good, because this is easy to screw up.  And, you need to get that person the parts.  And, you need that to happen far enough in the future to allow the person to schedule you, and the parts to get there… and you need to figure out where to stay while someone has your primary mode of transportation in the middle of a COVID case surge.

Ultimately, that all took an entire day (not counting the 4 bike shops I visited in Carpinteria and Ventura trying to see if it was better to raise the drops).  I’ve got parts on the way to the Best Western across the street from Joel’s Bicycle Shop in Thousand Palms. Everything, including me, should hopefully get there by the 20th.

So, another 5 days and maybe 150 miles with the drops, and if I didn’t screw anything up, J.S. will have a drastically new look and interface in about a week.

Off to an RV on the shores of the dried-up Santa Clara River tonight (AirBNB).  Just 7 miles away.  There’s been brutal wind in the wrong direction here, and it’s not supposed to let up until tomorrow. 

I am not inadequate

When: January 12, 2022 | Where: Carpinteria, California
Miles Cycled: 276 | Days on the Road: 24

ADHD finds all kinds of ways to remind me of my inadequacy.  No.  Let me change that word to “disability.”

Inadequacy is what I felt for most of my life, as I bought into the still-popular notion that ADHD — especially among adults — is really just excuse making for those who lack discipline and work ethic. 

I struggle with the word “disability,” because I feel like I’m commandeering a word meant for people with “real” disabilities. I’m still so conditioned to believe that my disorganized mind doesn’t qualify.  That if I just tried harder to focus my thoughts, or to stop absent-mindedly setting things down in places I won’t remember, or to be more “diligent” when reviewing important details… If I just tried harder, I could be like “normal” people.

But, trying harder is never going to change the fundamental architecture of my brain. My brain will never work the same way as a “neurotypical” brain. That fact is always going to cause me to miss things others see plainly.  My brain is always going to struggle to keep order from becoming chaos.  It’s the brain architecture I was born with, and the fact that I’ve done well in spite of it doesn’t change the truth that it’s always been disabling.

I am not inadequate.

I was tearing up when I wrote that last sentence. I’m laughing now, because I realized that I sat down to write an update on my travels, and got characteristically waylaid by my thoughts.

What I was starting to say was that I got reminded of my “disability” yesterday when I discovered that I had not actually published “Lemuel’s Ramble” yet. For more than a month, I had thought I was putting my thoughts out there for the world to see, and only discovered yesterday that every last idea was stuck in blog purgatory, just waiting for someone to notice the “publish” button… which I hadn’t.  So, people who clicked links to entries from social media were informed that “Lemuel’s Ramble” was “COMING SOON!”

Oy.

Dotting i’s and crossing t’s is never going to be my thing.

It’s fixed now, just in time for me to start heading inland, which I should be doing later today after stopping at a bike shop in Ventura. 

My handlebars are just a little too low or too forward, and arm fatigue is proving to be a bigger issue than leg fatigue.  I’m hoping they’ll have the part (or parts) I need to solve the issue today, so that I can continue on to Santa Paula or further before dark.

Ramble Update – Lompoc, California

Ramble Day 20. Miles cycled: 209

Very quick update after 2 nights in Lompoc. Mostly to express some optimism. The ride from Arroyo Grande to Santa Maria was a bit of a grind. There wasn’t supposed to be headwind, but there was, and Ride with GPS sent me into another “Road Closed” sign, which caused me to have to add a couple miles near the end, when I was already tired.

Based on that, I was concerned about the ride from Santa Maria to Lompoc, which I could see had a couple of hills that are daunting for me… if not to the average rider.

When I actually got to them, I was feeling in pretty good shape. After stopping twice early on the first climb, I got a rhythm going and didn’t stop again until getting to the top.

I was a bit fatigued by the time I got to the second one, and stopped 6 times… it is a bigger hill. But, either of these was equal in elevation gain to what felt like an absolute wall between Atascadero and Morro Bay, and I managed both in probably less time than the one took me nearly a week earlier.

I got to the top of the second one, and actually said to myself that I felt “powerful.”

A longish climb tomorrow of about 1000 feet in 15 miles or so. That’s gradual enough that I’m hopeful it’ll just be a matter of slow and steady. If that proves to be manageable, it’ll give me a lot of hope for the road between Santa Clarita and Palmdale next week.

Sorry for the dry update. I’ve been messing around with organizational stuff all day, and ran out of time for a more thoughtful update.

-Lem

Ramble Update – Arroyo Grande, California

Ramble Day 16. Miles cycled: 153

Coming to the end of my third night in Arroyo Grande. New Year’s Day and the following day were my first back-to-back days riding.  It was clear I needed a recovery day when I got into Arroyo, and after checking in, and looking at the state of “Lemuel’s Ramble” and other things, I decided to take two of them to catch up on other things.

The ride on New Year’s Day was a challenge.  There was about a 500 foot climb over a mile and a half within the first 5 miles of the ride.  The shoulder of the road was super narrow in spots, and the traffic was moderately heavy (or seemed so).  The need to generate enough speed not to swerve when cars were passing was exhausting for me on the steepest grades.  I stopped at least 10 times over that 1.5 miles.

But, I figured, a couple hundred yards at a time if necessary.  I knew it was pretty smooth sailing on the other side of the mountain… which it was.  Just about all downhill from the summit to Morro Bay. I got in with about an hour of daylight to spare for my first night in the tent.

I’d put off camping several times due to weather and/or lack of campgrounds.  When I got to Morro Bay State Park Campground, I couldn’t have picked a better night for the first time. 

I rolled up to the kiosk, and was given a bike-in space with no problem. The weather was beautiful (if a bit cold). I took my time setting up camp.  The tent was easy to pitch.  The Exped mattress had an issue with the one way inflation valve… but thankfully, there are two separate chambers, and only one side had the issue.

At any rate, I set camp up with relatively little pain, and was happy to find Door Dashers around to bring me some Taco Bell. The previous campers had left wood, so I lit a fire and sat there for a while before retiring early.

Sleep wasn’t fabulous. The pad and down quilt kept everything warm, but my hand, which I always sleep with outstretched (sleeping on my side), was freezing, and kept waking me up. Various efforts to keep it warm mainly led to different forms of discomfort. I haven’t been a tent camper for some time.  It’s going to take some getting used to.

I’d anticipated an easy 26.2 (an unplanned marathon) mile, relatively flat ride the following day.  In truth, I wouldn’t say it was insanely hard, but it was definitely more of a slog than I’d imagined it would be. A moderate headwind for much of it didn’t help, and “relatively flat” was fairly hilly for someone in my condition.  Tack on the fact that it was the second leg of my first back-to-back days, and very little sleep… about 7 miles from the hotel, I was on fumes.  Thankfully, it was a beautiful day, and the views from the bluff over Avila and Pismo beaches made the final few miles bearable.

The knees are holding up.  They aren’t great, and it’s still as painful to walk as it was before I left.  But the cycling doesn’t seem to be affecting them much one way or the other.  So, I’m going to go for 3 days in a row starting tomorrow with a short, 20 mile ride to Santa Maria.  Hoping to make Santa Barbara by the night of the 7th.

Stay tuned…

So I bought a bicycle in the fall and I resolved to pedal it to the other coast  

For now though… this intro.  I need to tape my knees and get the bike packed. 

Ramble Day 13. Miles cycled: 104

Welcome to Lemuel’s Ramble. I’m going to approach this in an untraditional way.

I have ADHD. I’d debated what aspect of myself to lead with, because there are other things about me that are important for me to convey.  But ADHD kept jumping to the forefront. 

Until fairly recently, I’d looked at my ADHD as just that: an aspect.  Something I deal with, but try to work around. But I’ve come to understand that, in discounting it that way, I’ve done myself a disservice.

ADHD is a fundamental difference in the structure of my thinking. It is most disruptive when I’m trying to work within frameworks that were developed by neurotypical people for neurotypical thought structures.

My creative mind doesn’t work linearly. When I create, it looks more like a jigsaw puzzle in progress. The frame is generally formed first, perhaps with little clusters of like thoughts/pieces merged together during that process. Then, ideas/pieces get built out as associations between them are discovered in multiple clusters that eventually merge with other clusters, and ultimately form a cohesive whole.

It’s often difficult to see the end result with a jigsaw if you don’t use the box top as your guide.  The way my mind works is like that too.  As when doing a jigsaw, I only have a rough idea of what the result will be.  With a jigsaw, I look at the box top before starting, and then don’t look at it again.  In creating, I have an image in my mind of how something will look when it’s finished, but the details are blurry and jumbled.

I’ve put off serious writing for many years because I always saw the process as yet another obstacle to conquer.  A way of doing things that I was going to have to force myself to adopt, because that’s just the way it’s done.

That obstacle is so formidable to me, I finally came face to face with the reality that I might never be up to the challenge of it.

So, rather than work on yet another weakness, I’m going to play to a strength. The times when I’ve been most successful in life have been the times when I’ve done things in ways that made sense to me and made other people scratch their heads. I’ll make what I make here in a way that makes sense to me. 

I’ll write a bit on this, and a bit on that… as it comes to me.  Hopefully, the individual bits will be worth your time on their own, and even more hopefully, there will be some bigger payoff as a bigger picture forms from those pieces.

My Ramble

Another aspect of me, at the moment, is that I’m fat.  Unlike ADHD, being fat is not something that is part and parcel of who I am. It is a burden I’m carrying.  A burden I need to unload if I hope to survive into my 60s (I’m in my early 50s now).

So, I bought a bicycle in the fall, and I resolved to pedal it to the other coast.  After a series of delays and setbacks that I’ll detail another time, I dipped my rear tire into the Pacific on December 20th at Moss Landing, California, and have been traveling since then.  It’s been slow going for a variety of reasons, but I am making progress.  I’m departing Atascadero, California in a couple of hours, and hoping for an easy 20 mile pedal to Morro Bay, where I’m planning to break out the camping gear for the first time. 

At any rate, while I build whatever it is I’m building here, the Ramble will be a unifying theme.  My goal is to post regular updates on where I am both in time and space and mentally/emotionally/spiritually.  I also plan to post videos to a YouTube channel.