The past three weeks have felt like three months, and I feel I've gained the biking experience of three years.
1. Sixty-five percent of the people you meet are very friendly. For instance, the people in Halfway, Ore., who heard my story wished me luck and brought me a cookie for the road.
Thirty percent of the people you meet are jerks: for instance, the people who refuse to give you space on the road, even in four lanes of open traffic, or the people who mask their jerkiness by telling you they hope you feel better as you stand there freezing on their porch.
Five percent of the people you meet are too creepy to hang around long enough to find out if they're the nice kind of creepy or the kill-you-in-your-sleep kind of creepy; for instance, the guy in the gas-station parking lot who stares at you for an awkwardly long time before coming over, complimenting your bike, telling an impossible-to-follow story about how he rode his bike somewhere once, telling you how he never goes anywhere without Ol' Rusty (his .45 revolver), and asking, "What campsite did you say you were staying in tonight?"
2. Everything I planned out so meticulously before I left on this trip turned out to be wrong. If you ever asked me a question about the trip and I prefaced my response with "I'm planning on…," then whatever I said next was wrong.
Well-meaning friend: "How many miles are you going to go every day?"
Brent: "I'm planning on averaging 100 miles a day."
Reality: Averaging 100 miles a day of loaded bike touring would be a Herculean feat. I'm dying at 85 a day. I hit 100 miles one day so far and it almost did me in.
3. There are four primary things capable of ruining your day: rain, logging trucks, wind and poor-quality roads.
4. Solitude is by far the hardest part. It is a lot easier to get through a grueling day or bad weather when you've got someone to laugh/complain about it with. I didn't have that luxury.
5. This experience is like no other I've ever had. As much as I can write, you will never understand without doing it yourself – it simply isn't possible. It's not that my writing is inadequate, it's just that 90 percent of what happens to me, I can't put into words. Ergo, you should all go on a bike tour.
Hendricks now lives with fellow ‘06 alumni Eric Colby and Greg Hess in a semi-monastic community in Spokane, where Hendricks works in neighborhood ministry. After serving in Spokane for two years, he plans to continue working in ministry through pastoring, missions work, or church-planting. To view Hendricks' online bike-tour journal and photos, visit www.freewebs.com/biketour.