On the Edge

I feel like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff – about to throw myself off into the abyss below. No safety net, no idea how far down, no nothing. Just jump, and hope like hell that someone reaches out His hand and catches us.

I’m not sure why I feel this way – this certainly isn’t the first time I’ve taken off for an extended trip.

In 1987 I filled out all the paperwork involved to leave the Peace Corps, pocketed the money they handed me, and headed south. For the next seven months I wandered in Central and South America – and never once felt the uncertainty I feel now. Maybe it’s because I was young and foolish, footloose and fancy-free.

A few years later, in 1990, I did it again. That time I quit my job and boarded a plane with a complete stranger to spend a year biking the Indian Subcontinent with a man I didn’t even know. I arrived into Pakistan with little more than a bike, a sleeping bag, and my dreams. A year later I returned to the USA and married that man.

I waited quite a few years before doing it a third time. In 2006 John and I quit our jobs yet again – to cycle around the USA and Mexico with our boys. Even though that was perhaps the most hare-brained scheme we had dreamed up to date, I still wasn’t as nervous as I am now.

One would think that, with all those extended journeys under my belt, I would be a pro at this. The truth of the matter, however, is that I’m scared spitless right now. I’m scared something will go wrong on the flight up to Prudhoe Bay – a piece of luggage will get lost or a bike will arrive damaged. I’m scared this year here in Boise has changed us in some way and we can’t do this any more. But mostly I’m scared that maybe, just maybe, it won’t be as magical as I think it will be.

We made a decision a long time ago that we would call it all off if it ceases to fun at any point. For us, bicycle touring is about fun – and if we can no longer say it is, we’ll stop. This journey isn’t about a goal, it’s not about “getting there” – it’s about the process of getting there. We’re headed out to explore – and all indications show that it will be a fabulous experience. But what if it’s not? Then what?

No, I’m not concerned about “failing” – not at all. In this endeavor, there is no such thing as failure. Even if we were to call it all off tomorrow, it wouldn’t be a failure. We’ve learned and grown from each and every step of our journey so far, and we can never lose that now.

But I’m scared that it just won’t be fun. Maybe I’m being irrational. Maybe I’m not looking at reality. Touring by bike has always been wonderful in the past and I see no reason for it not to be this time – but I still feel like I’m jumping off that cliff. I’m just hoping and praying that God will reach out His hand and hold us up.

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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11 Responses to On the Edge

  1. Theresa June 4, 2008 at 11:06 am #

    Perfectly understandable. You’ve got so much invested in this trip, mentally, emotionally, financially. Of course you want it to be fabulous, and not just for yourself, but for your whole family. It’s only natural to be apprehensive when you are standing on the edge-the deep breath before the plunge, so to speak.
    But I also think you are going to have a blast once you take that leap.

  2. nancy June 4, 2008 at 12:34 pm #

    You know Theresa – I think you hit the nail on the head. I’ve got way more invested in this trip than I ever had in any of my other trips. All of those were thrown together in a few months – while this one has consumed our lives for a year now.

    I also think we’ll have a blast once we go – it’s just the getting there that’s a problem! I also have a much greater understanding of why people don’t do this often – too much planning leads to an overwhelming apprehensiveness. We’ve both been focussing too much on all the stuff that can go wrong – even though we know it probably won’t!

  3. Rachael June 4, 2008 at 5:07 pm #

    I’ve got a different take on it Nancy. Even if it’s not *fun*, you will still be in His hands. And isn’t that the important part? If it does get to *not fun*, ask Him what lesson there is to be learned. It may not be that you should pack up and go home. JMTC

  4. Mike Vermeulen June 4, 2008 at 5:13 pm #

    I can relate when comparing my longer cycle trips across US (92), across Canada (97), around Australia (01) and across Russia (07). Seems like there is just a huge amount of logistics, planning and just a lot of activity to all get done and worry through before being on the road. Even more, you have your sons as well.

    Intellectually, you know that all will be fine and things that aren’t you have more than enough skills and experiences to problem-solve and figure out along the way…However, emotionally, I can relate to that same feeling of everything to worry about and sort through in this transition to cycle touring again…It probably doesn’t help that you’ve told friends, family and some of us strangers on the internet.

    Fortunately for me, I found that once I was on the road, I could spend that first week or two just getting into “flow” of everything and back into more of an overall cycle touring mode helped me just adjust to more of a take-it-as-it-comes approach than a big anticipate-problem-solve-worry mode.

    Wishing you well as you start on the trip and watching with some envy (while also dreaming of my next big trip…)

  5. nancy June 4, 2008 at 6:31 pm #

    Thanks – you are all so right. I do know that God will be looking over us, and I know that He won’t give us anything we can’t handle. But there is still that overwhelming sense of “what if?” It’s tough to shake that feeling, even though I know, intellectually, that it’ll all work out somehow. And however it all works out will be just fine!

  6. Greg June 5, 2008 at 7:11 am #

    “If nobody makes you do it, it counts as FUN!”

  7. nancy June 5, 2008 at 11:13 am #

    Good point, Greg!! I do think it will be fun – it’s just the “getting there” that ain’t much fun!

  8. Kathryn July 1, 2008 at 3:43 am #

    Congratulations on conquering the Dalton! We returned from visiting Grand Canyon, Bryce, and Zion to find your email. Davy and Daryl would have loved the Dinosaur Discovery site at St. George. We were guests of the founder and the main palentologist when we were there. Wow! They’re rewriting dinosaur facts as they dig deeper there. Kathryn

  9. janina December 1, 2010 at 2:45 am #

    Came across your blog today via the Adventure Journal as I was reading a blog article about the VW Syncro, which sounds absolutely interesting, as I am considering buying a campervan and becoming a grey nomad to travel around closer parts of Australia to me here in Melbourne. I am a 63-yo now retired not-so-nimble single woman and have no-one to ‘answer’ to who might try to stop me! I’ve always wanted to do this, and I think now is the time!

    So, all I can say, from seeing the other hyperlinks in your sidebar of obvious later trips, that you’ve overcome your fear and had those adventures, successfully I’d say. I’m sure you are truly glad you did it, and I have no doubt your children have benefited greatly from those experiences. Cheers from Melbourne. I’ve bookmarked you and will re-visit frequently to see what you are up to next.


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