Mindful Miles: The Beginning

A recap after day 2. 180 Miles in.

If you’re here, you’ve heard about the endeavor.

And you’ve probably asked why?

It’s a logical question, albeit one with a long-winded, complicated answer that quite realistically I won’t know even in San Diego.

The general gist: mindfulness. Pushing the miles is firstly a mental journey, secondly physical.

Whenever I yearn to escape the physical discomfort of intense cardio, I drift off. Focus on my breathing. Disconnect from my sensations.

Into a near meditative awareness of my mind.

What will result from such conscious exploration?

That’s why I created this space. As a journal, as my mental workspace, as a resource database. To share. To explore

And perhaps most excitedly: to connect.

If you have any podcasts, audiobooks, albums. Please send them my way! I would incredibly appreciate it :). Most pertinently to mindfulness, but I’ll take anything (better than the nagging drone of my self-doubting thoughts).

Me with the bike

Mental Health Awareness

I’m conducting this trip as a coda to a tough year.

Many have faced stress, anxiety, and depression from such unusual, and tumultuous times.

I wanted to confront the negative emotions, in a very long, very strenuous purge.

To untap the strengths inside, re-discovering what became obfuscated in the day-day drains of my fears, stressors, and anxieties.

And to urge others to do the same. I’m starting the conversation, hoping others will continue it. Reach out to your friends, reach out to your family. Smile at strangers. A hello, a phone call, an acknowledgment can change someone’s life.

The world is weaved into a knitted-ball of empathy. It’s easy to neglect the threads of joy tying us together, when so much of our attention is diverted on the un-scissorable zip ties. It’s easy to remain bound.

On all my trips, including this one, the kindness of strangers has emanated from the streets. The gentle waves of elderly couples from the countryside porches. The children chasing my bike “I want a ride.”

I dropped my earbud while crossing a road. While I searched for it, 3 cars stopped and asked if I needed any help.

Past the barriers of our confined quotidian existences, exists a beautiful eco-system of individuals willing to extend a hand.

Whether or not we take it, that starts in the mind.

Sometimes when I drift into excessive introspection, cycling reminds me of where I belong

Ben Irvine, from Einstein and the Art of Mindful Cycling
Here’s the route

Breaking Barriers

Cycling breaks barriers we establish subconsciously. Limits of movement, limits of freedom. Riding a bicycle inside of the city seems perfectly normal. Escape to the countryside? Drivers stare at you like a pedaled mutant.

And cycling 7-8 hours a day, everyday? Why?

I enjoy breaking the barriers of my body. The grunted screams while pedaling uphill, the heaving breaths when I notice I haven’t even reached the halfway point.

I think I should stop and rest, but I can’t. The tick of time, my greatest fear, tackles me on a long ride. 5 hours until sundown. 60 miles to my destination. Go! 10-minute break, and I must start moving.

The duration of the time slows down on a bike. but it presses. I stare at my legs, rhythm loops, up and down up and down. The praries roll, the seemingly flat landscape presents a new uphill battle. “Dont think about the distance! Don’t think about the distance!” I check my phone….I’ve gone 6 miles.

The pain of my muscles- my hands, torso, butt, legs, all degenerating becoming stronger. Many of us love going to the gym, going on a run. Imagine pushing that limit the entire day.

I know I’m growing.

Having said that, I truly don’t consider my journey to be remarkably unique.

  • The subreddit for bicycle-touring has 67,000 subscribers
  • America has managed to turn bicycle-touring into a business (with waitlists)
  • And there are people who cycle travel as their full-time job.
  • Furthermore, the trips that people have taken are astounding.
  • Most Impressive? Mark Beaumont cycling around the world in 79 days

I’m not trying to diminish the efforts of my experience.

Rather, I’m reaffirming this blog exists not for the bike journey, but for the mind journey. It’s not about what my trip means to the world. It’s about what it means to myself.


My Moroccan Friend: 2 years ago, I was walking down the sidewalk in New Zealand, when a man in a van pulled up. “Want a ride?”. Contrary to popular guidance, I agreed. Gratefully so. He invited me to camp in his beautiful seaside house, cooked dinner and told me of his journeys. He cycled from Italy to Singapore, caught a boat to Australia, picking up random jobs to sustain his trip. He then arrived in New Zealand, and became so enamoured by the beauty, he found a more permanant occupation. He told me “Nikita, promise me one day you’ll take a long-distance cycling trip. You’ll enjoy it.

Ash Dykes: The adventurer walked the length of the Yangtze River, pulled a cart across Mongolia, and walked across Madagascar. Despite all world firsts, it’s his advocacy that appeals to me the most. He conducts the trips that garner media coverage and redirects the attention to a cause, such as environmentalism, education, and community-driven projects.

David Choe: Choe is an artist, writer, and adventurer. His work doesn’t have a unifying thread- he paints murals, wrote a graphic novel, and hosted a vice show hitchhiking from Alaska to Mexico. More recently, he spent several months living with the Hadza people of Tanzania, one of the last hunter-gatherer societies. I remember laying on my bed on a Thursday morning in August watching him describe his experience. I had already created the vision of the bike trip, and told people I would do it. But I was doubting myself, and I was afraid. What if something went wrong? Do I even know how to change a flat tire? Why am I doing this? During the podcast, something clicked.

The creative visions, they come from the full flesh of human experience. They arrive with the experiencing of the spiritual, of the physical simultaneously. I’m cycling so hard, I try to forget that I have a body. That I have fears. I drift off into the clouds, into the winds, into the curves of the road. The liberation arrives when I float away. I’m a tiny transporting speck. Powered by my legs. Fueled by my heart. Traveling inside my mind, searching, searching for one more ounce to keep going.

And I love it.

4 thoughts on “Mindful Miles: The Beginning

  1. Hi Nikita and thanks for your notes. It’s refreshing reading about your journey, experiences, and your thoughts. Klementina and I have done a few bicycle trips several days long (much shorter than yours, of course) and we cherish those memories and sometimes reminisce about even after two decades.

    You may have heard of Tomo Križnar – a Slovene who has done several long distance bicycle trips, ones even around the World. He’s published books about his journeys. More recently, he’s traveled to South Sudan a few times working with and trying to help the local indigenous Nuba people who’s been oppressed be the Sudan’s government. Anyway, I just thought to bring it to your attention in case you were interested.

    Good Luck and keep us posted!

  2. What a great read so far, Nikita! What a great ride, too 🙂 You write very well, and you couldn’t pick a better time in your life and time in the worldly state of things. I just chatted with your dad and he sent me here when I asked “…and how are Nikita and the twins?” You’re doing very well, I can see. I’m in Moscow, wondering when I can get back to Dallas for my next visit. When I do, hopefully we can share some stories and zakuska 🙂

    1. Thanks for taking a look :). Hope you’re enjoying the northern latitudes. Yes, come back and let’s chat, eat and drink! I was telling my friends about you very recently…

Thoughts? Questions? Similar Nostalgia?