The Accidental Tourist

vintage_polo1-425x283In the movie The Accidental Tourist a dull, emotionally distant writer of travel guides meets an adventurous woman. As she tries to coax him from his boring, predictable life, his deep reluctance to journey outside the boundaries of familiarity and comfort emerges. Though he writes about traveling off the beaten path, his own path is a deep rut. The moral to the story? Adding a wee bit of adventure to our travelogues can be liberating.

I encountered the unexpected last week. Setting out to do an 82 mile training ride, I became an accidental tourist. On familiar roads I still managed a wrong turn, and found myself part of an unscripted adventure. I began to suspect something was amiss when the 40 mile run up to Bigfork, MN took 58 miles.

Now, there’s a whole world of meaning summed up in the word amiss . It suggests strongly that deviating from a plan or routine is a mistake that should not have happened – never mind repeated. It’s a self-imposed limit that makes our idiot lights flicker when we accidentally step outside the box. To say it another way, in the world of cycling the road gives both the expected and unexpected. The trick is to accept and enjoy both.

Discomfort is our passport to new vistas.

It was like God gave me a wink and a smile: HERE YA GO, HAVE FUN! And it was fun. I had to supplement my nutritional needs at gas station convenience stores with Slim Jim’s, BBQ chips, bananas and V8 drinks. Somewhere around mile 75 I had to cope with 12 miles of gusty headwinds. By mile 90 I was praying that it wouldn’t end until I had ridden my first accidental century. As I rolled up to the car my bike computer read:

100.5 mi – 5:38:04 – 17.8 mph – 3201′

I wasn’t even wrecked. As I changed out of my bike shoes I could feel the smile on my face  – accompanied by a thought: wasn’t this so darn cool? 

Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable1 Corinthians 9:25 


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