7,200 miles

This year, I rode my bike 7,200 miles.

That number didn’t mean anything to me when I first saw it. So I quantified it.

A marathon: 26.2 miles

Texas to Alaska: 4,100 miles

China to France: 5,100 miles

California to Australia: 7,200 miles

I often get the question, “Aren’t you bored riding your bike for THAT long?” But I think that’s the wrong question. It’s a boring question with a boring answer.

No. Never.

A better question would be, “What happened to you during those 7,200 miles?” After all, I rode most of those 7,200 miles alone. It was just me and the road. The burning cold, the choking heat, the crippling pain, the searing rush, the dirt-specked sweat, the metallic blood, the unforgiving wind, the torrential rain, the kaleidoscopic snow.

Something must have happened. I must have thought about something. And you’re right. I thought a lot—more than I’ve ever thought in a classroom, more than I’ve ever thought in a debate round, more than I’ve ever thought in Academic Decathlon, more than I’ve ever thought in my life.

I thought about resentment and forgiveness. Dinosaurs and flying cars. Hate. Love. Roadkill and vegetarianism. Struggle and failure.

The perfect snowflake.

The roads I rode in Massachusetts. The roads I rode in Texas. The roads I rode in Australia. The roads I’ll ride in France.

Poverty and opportunity. Fear and discrimination. Econometrics. Disaster and rebirth. The hazy past and the opaque future.

7,200 miles.

Mostly, I listen. To the bike, the road, the rain.

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