Why Ride?

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.

We are most free of mediation, we are most real, when we are at the disposal of accident and necessity. That’s when we are not being addressed. That’s when we go without the flattery intrinsic to representation.

-Mediated by Thomas De Zengotita

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.