Tuesday, July 31, 2007


These evenings, I've been taking Django out to water the bushes. Mostly he just walks a few yards from the door, knowing that, when we go back in, he gets a snack before we go to bed. Cheeky hound. Still, we play the game and step out into the finally blessed cool of the star-studded night. The moon has been huge and bright, the eye of a quiet god gazing down. I lie on the concrete walk, still warm from the sun, look up to the moon as it climbs through the dark limbs of a scraggly oak to the east and feel the breeze coming down off the mountains. The stars have been pushed back, retreating in deference and inferior candle power--at this distance anyway. I stretch out, look and feel and think.

Why am I doing this? Hassling with great expense, uncertainty, risk? I've discussed this before, but it keeps coming back, a question that will never be put to rest even after the deed is done--if I am so lucky. One question comes up frequently when I tell people what I am doing: What are you raising money for? What's your cause? What is implied in the question intrigues me: Why would anyone do such a thing unless it was for some other cause? The tour in itself is not worth doing? The cyclists' actions must be justified by a cause around which others may rally? I wonder if people are gun shy, always ready for the sales pitch. I've been on the other side of this exchange: "I'm raising awareness for...." "I'm raising funds for..." "The group I'm raising funds for...." More power to them. Most of these seem to be worthy causes though I sometimes wonder how much actual benefit comes from the funds gathered. Whatever, the impulse is morally sound.

So what's the harm? I considered for a while turning my ride into such a vehicle for fund raising, but then I started to think about how that might shade my experience and the way I engage with people as I travel. Once you take this step and commit to a cause, that responsibility hangs over everything, especially your interactions with others. All of your meetings become somewhat conditional. You can be polite and have pleasant exchanges, but the inevitable pitch must be cast: "By the way, I'm raising funds for...." Some might construe this line of thinking as a rationalization, a way not to have to deal with fund raising. Perhaps there is some truth in this, but there is truth in finding problems with conditional encounters, too. My goal is to see, discover, and write about my experiences. There's a book about trans-continental cycling lurking in here somewhere and to that end I'm channeling my energies.

Still, to my handful of readers, should I attach my ride to a cause, pedal to peddle? At this late date, I can't go door-to-door, but I can post some links to worthy causes. Do such sales pitches annoy or inspire? One value of this is that if someone asks, I can direct him to my blog and the link. I can have a few cards printed up for those who ask. Otherwise, I can just let each experience develop naturally. Certainly, if I can help others, why not? On general principle, however, I'd rather not have to chase down people and drag their wallets out for my endeavors.

The moon arcs higher, its light streaming down over--Django's goofy snout hanging above me. The constellation mega-hound! He straddles my head with his fore-legs and reaches down to slobber in my ear. I hear ya, boy. There's a snack in your near future, you betcha. I stand up, stretch, and go in for the night.


William Enos said...


I would venture to say that the adventure is for you and what life represents in your eyes and mind. Riding the route is a huge accomplishment and should be remembered as such when you look back many years from now. Creating a reason other than what draws you from inside to get on the plane would in my opinion be turning the pedals for the wrong adventure.


Dwight Jones said...

I agree with Bill.

I might add that most people give a certain amount of their money to charity. There is no net benefit in convincing someone to give to your charity rather than someone else's charity.

So, I'd concentrate on the adventure. Meet people along the way without trying to talk about money all the time.

Scott Wayland said...

Thanks Bill and Dwight. I think I'll keep it simple. Less than a week. Oy!


Mike Morabito said...

Scott, this is a really important post.

Me and my team have been constantly having to explain why we are leaving everything (quiting our jobs, etc) to go take our trip. People DO want to make our trip into a cause or some money making venture so that they can rationalize it themselves. Its very difficult for people to see the value in and of itself of a trip like this.

We have even been approached about sponsorship stuff by a few people.

So as a team we are feeling the tension of that because as poor college students we'd love for someone to give us free money to help pay for our trip but on the other hand we also don't want to sell our soul to making the trip about money.

Who knows maybe the trip will end up becoming documentary or book...but I think our team is not going to make that the focus going in.


ps. You should write a book, if you get around to it because you are a phenominal author.

Scott Wayland said...

Yo, Mike: Thanks for the encouragement. I am planning on giving the book thing my best effort. We'll see how she goes. As far as the money thing, I think it's best that we stick to our original inspiration.

Three days and counting...


carol said...

Hey, Scott
Don't go the fund-raising route. It will step between you and the road. It will color and change everything you experience

Just ride.
and live the ride to the fullest.

carol c