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The Grandest Tour: Home on the Road

I didn’t have a lot, but it was enough.

I didn’t have a lot of food, but it was enough. I didn’t have a lot of comfort, but it was enough.  I didn’t have a lot of money, but it was enough. I didn’t have a lot of gear, but it was enough. Last of all, I didn’t have a lot of time. But it was enough.

Since my time on the road I have been at different iterations of home, thinking through the life I lived on the road this summer. In many ways, the homebound life – home as in living in a building with a kitchen and a bed – makes the vagabond existence of van (read: Prius) life seem preposterously simple. Daily existence in the world of, well, most Americans, is antithetical to the life I lived on the road.

At home, I am truly a creature of glutton. Not gluten as in the binding agent of wheat flour – although, at this point, I probably am a creature who is full of it– but glutton in the sense that I seek more than what is truly enough. In our world it’s nearly impossible to avoid building a cadre of excessive things that foist upon us a cluttered existence. Its infuriating, yet simultaneously incredibly alluring.

We have a lot, but it is never enough.

It is rare when we, as people who live in this particular culture, can truly shed this mentality. Even us as cyclists, who cling to notions of the pure simplistic joy of cycling as the root cause of our obsession, live gluttonously through multiple bikes, wheels, shoes, kits, gadgets, tires, training apps, and so on. That is not to say we should not use those things and to not be grateful for all these wonderful innovations and inventions that let us seek more. It’s only to say that we must accept the aspects of glutton that seep through the barrier between our sport and the rest of our society and to critically consider at what point we stop collecting and start riding.

I would even dare to say I am on the lower end of the “glutton spectrum,” but nearly every homebound day I simultaneously feel the need for more and the need for less. It truly is the darndest thing. It is something that is so hard to purge because it is so hard to determine that it is even worth purging. Yet, for all the intricacy and specificity, I find the appeal of simplicity just a bit more seductive.

Only once I started up the engine in June and took off down I-40 was I able to start making the simple life I wanted. The comfort of rooms and solid walls were replaced by the lime green canvas of my decade old Nemo, three-man tent. The kitchen I had grown to love was reduced to a two burner-Coleman and an ancient Kroger cooler, while the world of the web left behind on the twist and turns to my next nighttime hideout. In the limitations of my infrastructure grew an expanse of creativity.In the necessary intention of every action, purchase and adventure on the road, that strange convoluted feeling of simultaneously wanting more and less melted away. I never seemed to have all I needed in the confines of my Prius – while certainly not having all of what I wanted – but there was a satisfaction in making it work with what I had.

Faced with scarcity, I seemed to appreciate more. Not only the landscapes I was digesting through traveling, but also the very simplicity I was reduced to. In the past year where my “home” has seemed to move up, down and sideways, the simplistic consistency of my nomadicy[1] was a welcome change. It felt not that I was away from my home, but instead that I was always home.

Feeling such at home on the road is not abnormal for me as I have lived in more houses than I have fingers, but this time around the predictable chaos of the road grounded my spirit in a warm blanket of joyful satisfaction unlike it had in the past. In particular, once I returned to my grandmothers house in Bend, Oregon, and traversed the buttery gravel of the high desert I basked in a sensation of security I would assume one would feel returning to a childhood home.

My IKEA kitchen.

Now, as I look back retrospectively on those feelings in a real home with a real bed, I should feel the same. Here in Virginia I live in a wonderful neighborhood in Richmond, I get to indulge in a lovely cycle commute every morning, my kitchen resembles more of a cut out of an IKEA catalogue than any kitchen I have had before, and that’s just the tip of my comfort iceberg; it truly is a mouthwatering existence. But, here I am, waxing on the simplicity of the road with a growing impatience for the next time I can leave my bed behind and trade it for those battered lime green walls I love.

Oh, I cannot wait to be home again.

[1] This is not a word., but I will use it because I like it.

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