What compels me to ride the Great Divide? I have been trying to search for something – a part of my personality or an aspect of the trip itself – to use as the reason. It proved to be extremely difficult. Why does anyone do anything, really? Aristotle claimed all choices can be boiled down to the pursuit of happiness. True, I am pursuing something that ultimately makes me happy. Something I experienced the first time I traveled by bike.
Last summer (2009), I took a week-long bike trip from Dayton, OH, where I am in school, to my parents house in the northern burbs of Chicago. I intended to ride up and around Lake Michigan, but ended up cutting it short with a ferry ride across to Wisconsin. This was my first taste of bicycle touring, and it left me needing more.
It wasn’t until months later that I settled on a reason for enjoying the trip as much as I did. Mediated, a book I read for a sociology course, identified it. The author described a phenomenon he labeled “mediation.” Mediation occurs when something is designed, arranged, or planned for you to experience.
I realize now that on my trip, the fields I rode past, towns I passed through, and people I met were not there for me to experience. They were just there, and so was I – accident and necessity. During that week, I felt more connected and aware of my surroundings, more real, than I had ever been in the past. This is why I am riding the Great Divide– to escape mediation and be at the disposal of accident and necessity.