Photo: Justin Kern, Flickr Creative Commons
The movie was good though. If you're at all interested in people pushing their physical and emotional limits and think imagery from the wilderness out West is just awesome, it's worth watching. If landscapes and tired people on bikes doesn't strike your fancy, maybe it's not so good. I'm not sure this is necessarily a transcendent documentary that can make the topic fascinating even to those who don't come into the thing interested in the subject matter, but I liked it.
The only problem is that watching the movie made want to actually take on the challenge of riding on a mountain bike from Banff, Canada, to the border with Mexico along the Great Divide. The ride is over 2,000 miles and seems to take around a full month of riding for most who finish it, which is not many. Researching the actual race did not help this desire to try it myself. The official grand depart for the race is in early June and I could probably finish it before I had to be back to work in late July. I wouldn't even have to take off work. Plus, the hardest parts of the trip (besides riding a bike more than 2,000 miles over the course of a few weeks) is sleeping outside with only what you can carry and loneliness. Considering the fact that I enjoy backpack camping and am not particularly susceptible to loneliness, I could be an ideal candidate to actually do this.
The only problem is that I have a wife and kids back home and it's against the rules to have any contact with friends or family during the race. I could personally handle that because I'm kind of a jerk. The problem is that my wife and kids wouldn't be fond of that and I'm not enough of a jerk to completely not care about what they think.
Well, the girl probably wouldn't care too much. She'd still be young enough next year that she'd just forget who I was after a week or two. No real suffering on her part. The boy is old enough to hold onto these things and stockpile them as fuel for future maladjustments, though.
Outside of the physical realm, I think I'm going to enter into a column-writing competition for McSweeney's. A friend posted a writing-type job opening a few weeks back that I think I would have actually enjoyed. I applied for it, of course, but it's been long enough without hearing anything that I'm assuming it's another case of my not even making the cut for the first round of interviews. It's a really good thing I actually have a reliable job already or I'd be getting really desperate by now. It's been years since the last nibble at my résumé. Despite that, it made me think about how I may have given up on my earlier career path too soon. Sure, the newspaper and a work schedule that had me seeing my wife only twice a week despite sleeping in the same bed was a dead end, but I think I bailed on that path for the known possibilities of education too soon, and public education has been a little like Calypso and her island for were for Odysseus. Sure, those summers without work are beautiful and that pension at a relatively young age is pleasant, but I'd really rather be somewhere else doing something else.
That's why I think I'm working on coming up with a concept and a pilot edition of a column for that contest. I want to start dipping my toes back into the work I'd rather be doing. I'm not in a financial situation to jump all the way in, but at least I can try to do what I can. As for the column, I have my idea, and I think it's something that's not been done a lot, but I'll wait to share it until after the contest. If I win, you'll get to see how I do with it. If I don't win, I'll get to publish my pilot here. The rules say I keep all rights to my submission.
I'm also strongly considering trying to take part in the National Novel Writing month. This is in no way a practical attempt at getting where I want to go, of course. The McSweeney's thing actually comes with money and a contract for writing for them for a year. I just want to try the novel because I have an idea, and, like riding the divide, I want to see if I have it in me.