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Final Preparations (Mental)

There are the knowns, the known unknowns and the unknowns.

It's been a weird few weeks. I couldn't quite put my finger on exactly why it's felt so odd until I met up with a fellow Boulder-based GDMBR cyclist yesterday. Becca is riding southbound later this summer and we've been meeting regularly to compare notes and share gear.

After a pause in our conversation, she began articulating an intense, unexpected emotional phenomena she's been experiencing in the months leading up to her launch date.

The knowns

To reiterate the task at hand; we'll each be cycling 3,000+ miles and 200,000 ft vertical gain in remote backcountry while carrying our own food and water, being our own bike mechanics, doctors etc -solo and unsupported.

With several weeks to be alone with our own thoughts, we both fully expect this journey to test our mental strength and character. There will be days we're cold, wet, lonely, exhausted and want to quit, there will be days we have a tailwind, bellies full of food, new friends and sunshine and days we're questioning what the fuck we're doing...

The known unknowns

However, neither one of us expected the substantial mental and emotional work it takes to prepare for something like the GDMBR. It's like our brains know something we don't and have been subliminally making decisions and processing things on our behalf in order to help usher us into this next phase of our lives.

There's a Swedish term, döstädning, which translates to, "death cleaning." It describes a methodical, extremely prudent kind of life cleansing that gradually prepares oneself ahead of one's own death. It includes taking care of things like estate plans, wills and medical directives, getting finances in order and gradually shedding physical belongings.

All of this is meant to simplify and remove stress during one's final days, as well as relieve burden from those left behind.

Basically, I knew there was a lot I didn't know going into this trip, and I knew I needed to quickly get up to speed and get things in order.

The unknowns

While I'm not dying, just merely going away for a few months, I feel like I've been döstädning. And I believe it's my brain's way of helping me transition into an excruciatingly quiet, simple life.

After all, I'll be living in a tent with just two pairs of underwear, one sports bra, two shirts, one luxurious wetwipe every other day and no technology other than a phone that will probably only work on days I happen to roll through a town. Foodwise, I'll largely be sustaining on power bars, dehydrated meals, instant coffee and the occasional meal in town.

What I apparently didn't know that I didn't know, was that it's unreasonable to immediately step out of "normal" life and into full on wild woman.

That would be too big of a shock to the system and set me up for failure.

Transfer of energy

When I got laid off and decided to do this, I fell into a depression that left me feeling incredibly lethargic. I could barely function, but the downtime allowed me to study up.

I took a Complete Bike Mechanics course, reviewed maps in detail, learned about wilderness first aid, researched resupply strategies and tested gear.

During this time, I found myself pulling away from friends, not going for my usual sunrise runs, not eating out or even cooking nice meals and progressively offloading things from around my apartment.

Now I understand that my body went into overdrive, gifting its saved energy to my brain so it could go faster... processing more clearly and making smarter decisions on behalf of my future self.

The moment of truth

I'm scheduled to depart from the southern border in just 6 days. It's incredible how much I've managed to do in the last six weeks; I'm proud of myself for overcoming many obstacles -both practical and personal- to even get to this point.

I know it's going to be fun and incredibly challenging at times. There are many unknowns; maybe I'll have a catastrophic mechanical or a new wildfire will force me to detour. I'm also staying open to embracing emotions and experiences that I can't even imagine in this moment.

So, stay tuned :)

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