Diary of a Marriage: One Crazy Ride

A chance encounter leaves me wondering: Could I bike cross-country for a year with J.?

Adam and Christy, on their adventure.

This past Sunday evening, J. and I were walking out of a restaurant with friends when we ran into two wholesome-looking, rosy-cheeked cyclists. They were wearing fancy helmets and spandex pants and their bikes were loaded with all sorts of outdoorsy-looking bags. They asked us if we knew of a nearby place to camp for the night. We were ready to say no, sorry, not anywhere close, until they explained that they were from Connecticut, they had started their bike ride in San Diego, they were bicycling across the country — stopping in every state — in support of charity … and they were thinking of camping in Trenton.

We instantly swarmed around them, racking our brains and furiously searching for local campgrounds on our iPhones, more for fear of their wide-eyed intent to camp in Trenton than in support of their crazy venture. Then I realized that I vaguely recognized the guy — turns out we’d gone to college together and graduated in the same class — and from there, we all ended up down the road at my parents’ house, since it was closer than our place and, after all, they’d just pedaled from Newark, Delaware.

While my mother snapped into action, arranging last-minute hors d’oeuvres on crystal platters and insisting that they let her wash and iron their cycling gear (they didn’t), my friends and I prodded them for details. They were married, and their names were Adam and Christy. They’d sold their apartment and moved in with her mom for a year to save money. They’d sold their cars. Christy had quit her job as a middle school teacher. And then in January, they packed up only the most necessary of equipment (cycling gear, sleeping bags, a tent, Adam’s photography equipment, some basic tools), and set off on what will be the first unsupported bike tour of the 50 states in a calendar year to raise money to provide bikes for developing countries and hand-cycles for wounded vets. Their route is terrifyingly tentative, but the basic plan was to start in San Diego, and then crisscross the country, winding from Phoenix through Pensacola, and then threading up the east coast before veering west again in Maine.

Their sense of adventure and leave-the-world-behind attitude was incredible, inspiring. And then they told us that they’d just gotten married in October. They were newlyweds. Take the difficulty of the first year of a marriage — the inevitable adjustment period and the settling in to the role of being somebody else’s someone — and add to it a year-long cross-country bike ride with no sense of where you’ll be sleeping or eating or even when you’ll be getting your next shower, and that has to be a recipe for disaster, right? This bike ride could not end well.

But they were all smiles and California good looks (even though they’re from Connecticut), brimming with enthusiasm and contagious energy. She said that remembering to say “I love you” is hard.

“You typically say it when one of you is leaving, when you’re saying good-bye,” Christy said. “But we’re together every minute of every day.” (They’ve since worked it into their routine, when they’re packing up their tent in the morning.) It got me thinking: Could I ever embark on such a journey with J.? Would we make it, or kill each other before even reaching Albuquerque? And, if the answer was no (which, frankly, it is), does that make us less of a couple?

As I listened to them chirp merrily about their plans, their vision for the trip, their fundraising goals (their efforts have already raised nearly $9,000), I thought how lucky we were to have met them — and how happy I was that I’d married someone who didn’t think that trekking across the country on a bicycle was a good idea. I don’t think that I could say goodbye to my career and my friends and my family and my shoes and my jewelry for an entire year, and I don’t think J. would even consider such an idea. We’re just not that kind of couple, for better or worse.

We lay in bed that night, marveling over the coincidence of it all (“If we hadn’t made that wrong turn, we would have left the restaurant earlier and probably missed them …”) and admitting to one another that we could probably stand to do more outdoorsy things, and maybe give back a little bit more.

And then we said “I love you” before falling asleep in our cozy bed in our little home in a corner of the suburbs of Philadelphia.

What about you? Could you do a trip like this with your husband or fiance? Or are you more like me, and can answer that question with a resounding no?

If you’d like to follow along with Adam and Christy’s amazing trip — and see all the photos and videos from what they’ve accomplished so far — check out their website/blog, Give A Bike.

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