Saturday, May 28, 2016

Australian Oddities - The End of the Odd

This is the last Australian Oddity entry.  I must admit it has been alarmingly easy to find stupid stuff to post here every Saturday for the last several months. Oz just seems to lend itself to wackiness.  Perhaps the most stupid stuff of all that I have to post will be the opening account of a crazy Texan who flew halfway around and to the bottom of the world - just to ride a motorcycle in the sand with eleven complete strangers.

Since I dreamed up this ride, I've worked tirelessly to sort out the logistics, to secure the finances, and to condition myself as best as possible for whatever the Outback has to throw at me.  I was fortunate to be able to earn enough funds from side work and massage clients to pay for the entire trip with cash, because I don't finance vacations.  A few people suggested I start a GoFundMe campaign, citing that the entertainment value from my Alaskapade video would make the video from this trip a worthwhile donation motivator.  While I can somewhat see a degree of legitimacy to that idea, there are so many more people who genuinely need financial help from others that asking for a donation for my vacation seems trivial and insincere.  Also, I just can't ask people for money.  In the end, I found a way that allows me to look in the mirror and without leaning on strangers and my friends, so it's all good.

Logistically speaking, once I hooked up with Magnus the Swede and his crew, the support and survival details more/less fell into place.  When I published the details in this update, most people quit hounding me about this being a one-way suicide trip.  Most.

242 Pounds

Physiologically speaking, I was a mess.  I weighed 242 pounds when I turned 53 in November, 2015.  At that point in time, I was confident that I had the aforementioned logistics and finances fully ironed out.  It occurred to me that the only way I could fail at this endeavor was physically and ironically, my physical condition was the one aspect of preparation over which I had complete control.  At that weight and condition, failure was a foregone conclusion. Anyone who knows me well knows that when I make up my mind, I can be the most determined son of a bitch on the planet. Anyone who knows me at all knows that I am pretty much just a son of a bitch anyway, even sans determination.  But I digress.

185 Pounds
I made up my mind last year on that November day while staring in disbelief at the scale and swearing that it had to be broken (or at least in dire need of calibration) and then quietly began a regimen of exercise and proper eating that as of this typing, has helped me lose 57 pounds and more than 5 inches off my waist.  This routine is comprised of consistent cardio, reasonable eating, and nutritional supplements from It WorksI have had no weight training whatsoever and have focused solely on trimming down in a quest for the optimal riding physique.  Motivated by my results and how much better I feel, I recently increased my daily cardio regimen from six to ten miles.  I've been doing 3.5 miles on my rowing machine immediately followed by 3 to 4 miles on my elliptical.  Later in the evening, I knock out another 3 to 4 elliptical miles before going to bed and man do I sleep better!  To better simulate my riding anticipated conditions, I've been doing my evening elliptical sessions wearing my riding boots, a hydration backpack filled with 100 ounces of water, and my helmet/goggles.  I may look like King Uber Moto Dork, but I believe it helps me prepare.  The time seems to fly by while I watch motorcycle riding videos from Australia and before I know it, four miles and 650 calories have flown by.  I admit that I've become a little obsessed.  I returned from Detroit Wednesday night at 10pm and headed straight up to my office to put in the miles and you can bet I'll get my time in before I fly to LAX for the first leg of my journey on Tuesday morning.

Still, just like Jake Epping in Stephen King's 11/22/63 novel, all the preparation in the world couldn't stop the universe from seemingly trying to derail my plans.  I'm convinced that the cardio conditioning and improved strength were key to my not sustaining more severe injuries when I crashed my Harley in 70 mile per hour morning rush hour traffic.  My all-consuming determination (probably to a fault) to make this trip had me flailing like a seizure victim articulating all my joints even before I stopped sliding across the pavement - just to give myself instant peace of mind that I would be ready despite the superficial pain I felt as I laid there on the concrete listening to the sounds of skidding tires and swerving trafficNow, it's go time and the road rash scabs and fractures are mostly healed and I am physically and mentally prepared to take on the Outback.

On Saturday May 21st, I weighed in at 184 pounds and although I've had no weight specific goal in mind, I figured losing 58 pounds is reason enough to celebrate and I treated myself to a steak dinner with a baked potato and Texas toast.  It was a nice treat, but I sure paid for it later.  I suppose my body is no longer used to taking in that stuff and my stomach sure let me know it.  I need to slowly reintroduce that kind of diet because, I was in culinary heaven.

A coworker with whom I was discussing this trip began reading my blog and found the Alaskapade video.  I don't know him well; we're just work acquaintances.  But he apparently watched the entire video and felt compelled to tell me that I seem like a much different guy now, than I was then.  I mulled that statement over and when I asked him to elaborate the next time I saw him, is response was that I seem "resolute, aloof, and generally happier".  I thought about that statement as I flew home from a business trip and it occurred to me that his was indeed an astute observation.  When I left for Alaska, I was not in a good place emotionally and quite honestly, a part of me didn't care if I ever came back.  At the end of the video and reading my last Alaskapade blog entry, it was apparent that I came full circle and returned with my head screwed on straight.  Five years later, I'm leaving for Australia in a much better place, emotionally speaking.  I'm generally happy with my friendships, my family, my occupation, and my personal accomplishments.  I'm looking forward to coming home to my friends and loved ones and telling the story.

I am grateful that I have a job that not only affords me the ability to earn a comfortable living, but also gives me enough vacation to take a trip like this.  I am especially grateful for my loved ones and my friends who have been encouraging me, motivating me, and even challenging me to see this through.  Many have told me that they will watch with anticipation and read every word I write when I post updates.  Despite my physical conditioning and improved health, there is a tremendous amount of this trip that is totally beyond my control.  Irrespective of these possibilities, I have done everything I personally can to make this journey a successful one.  I will not let myself nor you down.

Hold your breath folks because this time next Saturday, I will be out there - beneath the equator - finally living this dream.  Maybe then I can exhale.  Maybe...