Well. We're four hundred miles from this big cement marker. Week one is in the books—in the bank. Four hundred miles up and over, over and out. We’re in Saint Petersburg and I’m sitting on a balcony in the breeze of a sunny day. Lucky me. Our butts are happy to not be riding our saddle, our legs glad for the day off from the rotations and revolutions that defined our past week. My head is grateful for the flood of caffeine.
I’ve been drinking coffee for hours. Hours.
Saint Pete. Stinky Pete with the stinky feet. We’re here. It feels good.
Every day is a dream. Riding north, meeting fresh faces and folks with stories to tell. Riding through parks when we can, taking on the crush of the cities when the green goes and all that’s left are the gray strip malls of corporate America. And it’s all good. Vibes and rides.
I keep telling myself that this is a gift. Every day is my dream in reality, a high definition gift from those who helped me into to this space today. So thank you.
But I have the doubts. The questions that return at night when I retreat into my dark corners.
What are we doing? I ask. What am I doing?
Riding for the foreseeable future, carrying my life one pound stuffed into one bag at a time. I write in my journal that this is a life worth living. Vibes and rides—miles and smiles. But why?
Do you ever wonder that—the why, the what? Keys to Freeze is interesting. We have formed around this dual-hubbed mission: for the parks of America and the resulting documentary & novel.
There’s an elevator speech, a quick forty second paragraph that’s been developed and tweaked and worked over into our own styles. Our quick punch mission statement: Hi. Yeah we’re on a tour. Headed to Alaska! Yup. I know—it’s really exciting. We’re riding to raise awareness and money for the National Parks of America and are working on a documentary and a novel about the trip. Yeah, of course we’re on Facebook! Here’s a business card. And a sticker too, if you want it.
But there are layers that go deeper. We are like onions. All of us, you included. We are all human onions. Stinky and savory, that’s us.
At the surface I have the what, the why—I am riding in direct benefit to our national parks and am gathering material to write a novel at the trip’s end. And then there are those other reasons. The deeper ones, flayed back and exposed by our first four hundred miles.
Note: I won’t speak for the rest of the group, just from within where I have fleshed out these first layers lying beneath our unifying parks mission.
I want a life outside the four walls of our modern society.
I want to pick up the pen and paper and through a balance of my words and actions inspire.
I want to meet people with stories worth telling and tell them.
I want Keys to Freeze to be the start of my journey into this world, my world, my adulthood.
I want the opportunity to discover myself and then share this person with those who read my work. This opportunity, my beginning, is Keys to Freeze.
I’m a week in, and still searching. No surprises there. But I’m on a good path to learn more, and that is a start.
Mm. I feel baked by the sun. My kneecaps are leather. I have rashes in the weirdest places. I smell bad. It’s been a long week. A great week—a dreamscape—but a long one still, and there are a hundred moments I want to share with you. Flashes of clarity that cut through the bubble wrap of our world and define in that singular instant what it means to share the spaces of our lives together.
That’s some heavy shit though. It’s Wednesday, Hump Day, and nobody’s got time for that. I might just need to save that material for the book, anyways. Maybe not. Maybe I’m just lazy.
Here’s what you need to know about our first seven days on the road:
We’ve been spoiled this past week. Our hosts—Jimmy & Lance, DAV Chapter 122, Jessie & Miranda, Athena, Jerry, Colin & Family, Amber & Co, Karen & Mark—have hooked it up. We’ve showered. We’ve slept in beds and on top of couches. We’ve eaten. And eaten. And eaten.
Brady had a lot of hair. It's all gone now.
The Florida Keys is a different world. I’m still not sure how I feel about them.
The Tamiami Trail is a woman scorned and hath great, relentless fury. She loves you through the heart of the Everglades and then breaks you against the densely populated metropolises of southwest Florida.
Tyler and Rachel are incredibly photogenic.
When this trip is described to strangers they either go out of their way to help or laugh at our folly. There is little middle ground. Maybe that’s because we’re only 400 miles from the Keys, and 8,600 from Deadhorse.
Megan and George, everybody.
Some people genuinely don’t like cyclists. It’s astonishing, really. I’m always curious as to, again, Why?
I am covered in acne. Cycling gear, when worn day in and day out, becomes a hotbed of greedy little pussy bacteria. Beware.
Mate makes for dramatic pictures.
Coordinating our creative projects—video, photos, illustrations, text—takes some serious communications skills. It’s rewarding when it’s all pulled together. Narratively, Social Media … this journal. We’re a team. And a pretty good one, from what I can tell.
All right. That’s it for now. I’m tired.
We’re on the road again tomorrow, and will keep you in the loop as best we can. Onwards towards Gainesville, then Tallahassee. One mile at a time, one smile to go with the mile.