Not all who wander are lost…I have seen this a lot lately, adorning the shirts and walls amongst varied communities—from artists to drifters to star-seeking entrepreneurs to anyone who just likes the idea of following an unbeaten path.

While there is nothing wrong with a good quote that inspires you to one day seek adventure as a fearless trailblazer wandering bold new paths in life that in 4 easy steps can help change the world, I have to say that training for a 100 mile bike race during one of the hottest days in July is just not one of those times.

A couple of weekends ago, Faith, Brian, Niels, and I headed out to log some training time as we prepare for the Big Dam Bridge 100 coming up in September. Even early in the day it was hot. Back in the UK they called it a heat wave just last month when the temps peaked at about 30° C, which 86° F. Here in Little Rock, that’s a cold snap. The weather in the south is nothing short of diverse: Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, ice, snow, and of course, the heat, which was close to triple digits that day.

Anyway, so despite the extreme heat, we logged roughly 50 miles, which should have been less, but I will get to that in a moment. I’ve been using this Strava app, which tracks key stats like distance, pace, speed, and even compares how I am doing over time. It’s actually pretty cool. You can see our cycling route in orange on the map image taken from the app.

I’m sure you have already noticed the straight line there with no outlet. So, in the age where GPS navigation is literally at your fingertips, one might say it would be difficult to make a wrong turn while out on the cycling trails. I mean it is pretty rare, unless of course you stop at a bar along the way, which we didn’t (not this time anyway).

I’m not complaining, it’s our own fault that we failed to properly follow the intended route. Well, let me say it another way… it’s our own fault we improperly followed Niels down the road to nowhere.
After a few short minutes of riding along, having seen no cars and no passers-by, I became quite confident that this was indeed a bad decision.

$*&%! Niels.

That’s when I first noticed the old man at the edge of his property, rocking in a creepy rhythm in his ratty chair. I’m pretty sure he was armed. Maybe it was the rusty sign halfway tacked up to a tree that read: PRIVATE PROPERTY. IF YOU CAN READ THIS YOU ARE IN RANGE that lead me to that assumption. The Old Man (as commonly referred to over the last couple of weeks) stiffened when he saw us, the rocking chair tilting back on its feet. At this point I fully expected the next sound I heard to be that of him cocking his rifle.

I was a bit surprised when The Old Man nodded, took a sip of his coffee and half-smiled as we rode past him.

That’s probably whiskey.

Ignoring all signs we were not on the correct course, we continued on for a while longer… well, until we reached the end.

A dead end road. $*&%! Niels.

So we headed back, found our way onto the correct route, and finished the rest of the way home. I was exhausted and drenched in sweat.

Oh, by the way, Niels and Brian stopped and chatted with The Old Man, who actually didn’t have a gun and was quite personable. I’m pretty sure they are all getting together to have coffee next week.

Trails and Tribulations image