9. Shaking Off Rigid Conformity

holding the handlebars loosely . . .

Margie Willis
6 min readOct 20, 2023


Image by Melk Hagelslag from Pixabay

If there’d been a World Wide Web back when I was about to leap into the great unknown of a cross-country trek, I never would’ve gone. If I’d had that research tool at my fingertips, I would’ve shriveled in the face of all that visibility.

I would’ve found out other bicyclists tackled such an epic adventure after a solid year devoted to planning and training. I would’ve seen how slick and flashy all the newfangled bikes and riding gear were. I would’ve seen that my route went in the wrong direction, against prevailing winds.

I might’ve read about those who do rides with someone else driving a sag wagon alongside. Rack up some miles while resting. Or those doing an online blog with talking stops to make money.

I was just a backwoods hick with no clue about high-fidelity trekking.

In my case, ignorance was bliss. I don’t know how today’s youth can find the courage to share tender fledgling thoughts and hopes when so many others seem to be flooding the zone with bloated braggadocio.

It’s taken me thirty-odd years to get around to writing this because I kept thinking my trek should resemble an athletic endeavor. But try as I might to portray some cycling savvy, my life was muddled like a soap opera so I pedaled my ass to Walkman-wailing by Bonnie Raitt:

“I can’t make you love me if you don’t . . . “

Image by thank you for 💙 from Pixabay

The extent of my lame itinerary was to send away for maps covering the cross-country Bicentennial Bike Route. I nailed down some stops so I could send friends my list of General Delivery addresses which stretched across various states, with dates for when to send to each location.

This was my first major breakaway from everything I had previously defined as my life. My identity no longer.

Previously, I HAD to touch bases with certain friends to face routine stressful moments. My designated mailstops…