Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Settling Back In

After 3 months of bicycle adventure touring, I returned to Minneapolis with no job and a mountain of school loan and credit card debt. I had a $50 uncashed check from my sister. Many of my college friends had moved on. My stuff was scattered throughout MN. I had some stuff at my sisters. Some gear was at my mom's house in northern MN. My trusty old Malibu Classic station wagon that could haul 8 bikes on it's roof was at my dad's farm. Returning to Mpls felt good, but really I didn't know where to turn nor what to do?

I cashed my check and took a bus to northern MN to see my mom. I stayed with my mom and eventually picked up my car from my dad. I think I shocked my mom because for the first time in my life I had a full beard....at least full for me. I was also super skinny as I returned to MN weighing about 185lbs. I'm not sure what it is like in other parts of the country, but when a mom sees her son and he looks a bit hungry and unhealthy, the mom wants to cook & feed. That's what she did. I ate and ate and ate. I also shaved off my beard and started making a plan to find a job.

The part of the plan I didn't plan for was that it was now November. When your primary desire and skill revolves around a bicycle, looking for a bike shop job in November in MN is no easy task. I needed money badly. I had to do something else. Looking back, it's crazy to think that you looked for jobs in newspapers. Seriously, no internet. No looking at websites. A newspaper? I walked down to Widman's home made candy shop and bought some chippers (chocolate covered potato chips) and the Minneapolis Star Tribune. I looked at every job posting and starting making calls and appointments.

I returned to Mpls to stay with my sister. I put together a resume and then went to a couple of interviews. Turned out this bicycle tour thing was kind of a cool thing to talk about at the interviews. I had a perfect 3 month gap with the dates on my resume. I still remember this guy asking me what I've been doing for the last 3 months?

"Well, you may not believe this, but I flew to Alaska, rode my bicycle to Utah unsupported, and then met up with some friends and drove back to MN."

"What? Seriously? Did you stay in hotels?"

"Nope, camped almost every night."

It was the easiest job interview I've ever had. I walked out with a job as a prestigous telemarketer for Nordic Trak. Sweet, I had a job.

Later that same month, an old friend of mine got me hooked up with a second job at a food company. I put my biology degree to work and ended up doing food quality testing on exotic meets. I also picked up the occasional bicycle mechanic teaching job back at my old shop.

Two months later, I ended up moving to Columbia, MO to build a new bike shop for Walt's Bike and Fitness. I loved Columbia, MO. Great town. Great people. Great riding.

Kind of strange looking back. I got back into my life pretty easily. In less than 6 months, I had 3 different jobs. I ended up making enough to start paying back my debts. I still felt like I was missing something. However, at the time I was simply enjoying my life. I put my serious plans on hold.

Bike riding and racing has a way of helping you escape. At least for me, when I am riding two wheels, preferably on the dirt, my worries, wants and desires just fade away. Riding is a gift and no matter what my circumstance, I feel free when I ride. Luckily for me, my circumstance and my choices allowed me to ride everyday. Luckily for me, the bicycle was my vehicle that grounded me and allowed me to move on and settle in.


Guitar Ted said...

Interesting last two paragraphs. It is kind of funny how you can get swept away by the currents of life and end up in places you never dreamed of.

Nice header pic, by the way!

gNAT said...

Mark, it is interesting isn't it? I'm betting you can relate.

That pic was taken at Sea Otter not far from the loop you and I did. I had ridden out onto the course to take some photo's of Salsa Amigo Ryan Horkey during is race. Riding back, I was cruising up this little climb and the perfect blue sky against the green was beautiful.

MG said...

Yeah, I too related closely to the emotion in the last two paragraphs... probably a little too closely still for my own comfort, actually, to be honest with you.

But I'm moving on and settling in too... it comes slowly.