$30 and a Dream

For most competitors Ironman Wales will begin at 7am on Sunday the 11th.  For me it began Sunday the 4th when I left Glasgow.  I had a bike, $30 and my gear.  I was up against 400 plus miles, nearly continuous rain and a persistent headwind.   I had no places to stay and no tent.  I didn’t even have a map actually, but when you’ve come this close to catching a dream, obstacles like that are no obstacles at all.

The biking was the simplest and the hardest.  You move your feet in circles and you move forward.  All you have to do is not stop.  Fortunately at this point my legs are pretty strong, unfortunately sitting on a bike seat that long leaves me feeling like a eunuch.  It’s mind numbing as well, especially as I did the ride solo.  The roads I took were heavily trafficked, which would make listening to music akin to Russian roulette.  The result, a lot of time alone with your thoughts in the rain, is as hard on the mind as those persistent circles are on the legs.

I was lucky in regards to shelter.  Between the two endpoints, where I had friends waiting to help, I relied on the kindness of strangers.  Miraculously, I found someone to give me a place to stay every night, even if sometimes it wasn’t until midnight or even 2am.  Still, the amazing hospitality of these kind strangers inspired me, and more often than not even provided me with bodily sustenance.  I was fed pumpkin curry, fresh baked banana bread, crumpets and pancakes.  I even had my lunch packed for me!

One of the lovely places I was lucky enough to call home for a night.

I often had to stop for directions, but some people went so far as to print me maps.  When I needed water, bars always refilled me. Even the infamous Starbucks and McDonalds did their part, providing me with free internet.  Like making a cake from a box mix, just add concentrated power of will.

At least I know it's downhill from here.

My body hurts everywhere, everywhere I can still feel that is, but here I am.  The Ironman is just three days away and the forecast for that day is storms with high winds.  I like a challenge.  It’s possible they’ll cancel it if there’s thunder and lightening.  Even that doesn’t really matter.  There will always be another race to run, another mountain to climb.  In the end, it really is the journey, not the destination.

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

T. Roosevelt

Categories: Biking, Ironman, Journeys, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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13 thoughts on “$30 and a Dream

  1. Wow, what an adventure! I’m glad you made it to Wales in one piece! Good luck on the Ironman!

  2. Beautifully written. You’ve got balls. Even if you can’t feel them.

  3. Wow I would not have been as positive as you in these circumstances for sure! I hate being cold and wet and on top of that tired… you must really love what you’re doing! I’m glad you found a place to stay, how did you manage that btw? And it is a lovely little spot! I hope for your sake the weather lets up and we have some dry days ahead. I am quite fed up with all this rain. Hey is your family ok with all the flooding they’ve been having upstate? I hope so! Best wishes on your upcoming Ironman!

    • I’ve been loving it a little less than normal this week 🙂 I used a website couchsurfing.org to find the places I stayed. It’s a website where travelers offer each other free places to sleep. It’s really an amazing and inexpensive way to travel. I couldn’t recommend it enough.

      No word from my family in a few days, but they live on a hill top so flooding isn’t much of a problem for them! Thanks for all the encouragement. I’ll need it come Sunday!

  4. Good luck Jason! I have really enjoyed reading your stories and adventures, plus getting to see all the beautiful photos you have taken! No matter what happens with the race you will always have these great memories. I’m sure you have become stronger in body and mind, and hopefully spirit. It’s nice to know there are still such kind people in the world!
    You make me think of that cliche, “where there’s a will, there’s a way”, and you found it! Not many people could do what you have done. I hope the rest of your trip goes well! 🙂

  5. JJ

    Hey congrats Mr. Ironman!! You finished the competition in 16:12:23. How many people can say they entered the competition and finished it?! It’s awesome and you should be proud!!

    • kelvyn

      congratulations on your ironman finish, i was a volunteer on the course yesterday me i my son loved supporting you yesterday.. he would not go in until we had seen you complete your final lap on the run course we were by the turn around point… go jason go.. you are an ironman .. you have inspired me to enter wales im next year hope to see you there…

      • Kelvyn,

        Thank you for what is without a doubt one of the greatest comments I have ever received. Also thank you and your son for cheering me on race day. I can assure you that it made all the difference and I heard every word of encouragement that was said!

        I’m sure you can do it it to and look forward to hearing about your experience. Please feel free to email anytime you have questions or need any support! Until then I hope ll you’ll enjoy reading about my race. I’ll be posting lots of details this week!

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