This One Time, I Biked To Omaha

We’re on the verge of a new year, the Mayans were wrong, and hopefully 2013 is full of more employment opportunities than 2012.

The Present

I am unemployed, partially by choice, as I am one of those privileged white kids who gets to be mad at the world for not bending to his every whim and giving him what he wants. But also because I’ve been summarily denied from every job for which I have applied, some of which I’ve been qualified for, others not.

Before we go any further, this is the farthest thing from a pity post, I’ve enjoyed my funemployment. This post is mostly about reflections from my bike to Omaha and the rest of the year.

I had an opportunity in the NFL, it was brief as most are and I had to move on. I got a job at a community bank. The people were awesome but the pace was slow and the ambition was low. After graduating college in two years I thought very highly of myself and wanted to do something fairly audacious, I mean I had made it to the NFL.

Returning to Kansas City, I became enamored with the Silicon Prairie start up scene and wanted to work with an exciting company from the area. As I lacked the technical pizzazz on my resume but trusted in my tried and true ability to learn rather quickly, I hatched a plan. At a bar. On a Saturday. Because where else.

The Plan

I would leave that following Monday and bike to the Silicone Prairie News awards, 215 miles away, in bustling Omaha, Nebraska. David Cohen, the founder of Techstars was the keynote speaker and Techstars seemed awesome.

I suppose it’s prudent to mention I had never ridden a bike over 10 miles and I was still a fat 300lbs. I’ll end the suspense now and tell you that my ass was very sore from the ride.

The Preparations

Sunday came with a hangover and I began preparations. Jerry-rigging a bike rack on, I started packing. A hammock and mosquito net in case I had to stop, a few bike fixing tools, some sunscreen, power bars and a change of socks.

I would leave at the crack of dawn Monday and give myself 4 days to get there, just in case. I figured I could ride 75 miles a day and make it there by Wednesday with an unbelievable story to tell. It would be so great a story it would be impossible to not garner interest.

The Ride

The ride was… interesting.

I’ve been through many terrible, grueling August-long football camps that have left me incredibly sore. One major difference, I was not alone during camp. Never before have I talked to myself so much, mostly in an angry manner, than when pedaling alone on Highway 75.

Making it 90 miles the first day I stopped at 3pm in Sabetha, KS and almost immediately fell asleep (not before realizing I’d sustained a second degree sunburn but that was just a good way to remember the trip). Waking up at 6 on the second day I don’t think my body has ever ached so much, I had after all pretty much stopped working out months earlier

This whole idea was starting to seem like a terrible idea.

Not 20 miles later I hit milled highway. They were tearing it up to repave it, and apparently nobody wanted to pick up a giant hitchhiker in biking shorts. I swore at myself constantly over the next 18 miles as I rode at a sub 10mph pace, body shaking, all the way to Auburn, NE.

Defeated I stopped for 3 pancakes, an omelet, toast, potatoes and some coffee and then took a nap in a park, ready to quit. I made a resolution to complete the ride today, I couldn’t bike a third day.

In retrospect, I am glad I continued.

I bore down and pedaled hard up and down the hills a whole 125 miles that day. I exited just before Highway 75 met Interstate 80 and collapsed in the grass next to the offramp.

Did I mention I rode on a highway? Bad idea for future bikers. Not only was their a hill every time it intersected another street but also rural residents in northern KS and southern NE weren’t too keen on respecting an exhausted biker on the shoulder.

The Reflection

Okay, okay, I’ve complained enough.

It was an incredible experience; one I don’t regret but am not eager to go out and reproduce anytime soon. I learned a lot about how far I could continue to push myself even without a coach in my ear and also about biking in general.

The ride left me exhausted and all I could do was sleep leading up to the event. The story probably made me seem more crazy than ready to help a local startup achieve traction and success. While I met some great people, I left without any meaningful job prospects.

I was, however, more convinced than ever that I could apply and do any job out there quite efficiently. Months later, as previously mentioned, I am still unemployed having been passed over or denied dozens of times.

Here comes the important part, what I’ve learned in 2012 from my bike to Omaha. The world is full of problems and I want to help solve some of them. I have done some pretty outstanding things in my life and I don’t intend on letting my peak be a painful, self-loathing bicycle trip to an atypical tech event.

I also have no regrets and have learned to take lessons from every experience more consciously. Going forward I will pursue audacious goals, I will seek out the best teachers and gain all sorts of experience. I will continue to be a polymath.

If it all culminates in being an armchair philosopher/ski bum, I will be happy. Happy because I’m alive and well and always have the world at my fingertips.

Happy New Year to everyone. May your 2013 be full of surprises, I know mine will be.

Full disclosure: I didn’t reread this, it’s entirely stream of consciousness so it may be rambling garbage. I hope it isn’t.