There’s an old adage that says “You can’t step in the same river twice.” The philosophical position is that a river is always changing. As a life-long motorcyclist I would add that you can’t ride the same road twice. Neither you nor the road are the same.

This is certainly been the case for me. US Rt. 50 runs East-West across the center of the United States from Annapolis to Sacramento. I’ve ridden every mile of it East to West once, and have ridden bits and pieces of it many times over the past 40 years. One of my favorite stretches is from Clarksburg, West Virginia through Romney, West Virginia, on to Winchester, Virginia. Riding that road on a new bike is a form of initiation. If a motorcycles handles well and makes me smile on that part of Rt. 50 then I know the bike’s a keeper.

Before the Interstate Highway System made traveling long distances by car accessible to almost everyone, it was only the brave and adventurous spirits who dared to take off from, say Chicago with the goal of getting to Los Angeles. That road, US Rt. 66 is probably the most famous U.S. highway, but it isn’t the most beautiful or most interesting. Nearly every highway that starts with a U.S. has got a history and nearly all of them are worth riding or driving.

This year Coach Jenny and I set off  headed East from Chicago to meet up with my son and grandchildren for some well-earned vacation time and the celebration of my son’s 40th birthday. Unlike most trips where the “getting there” was the least important element, this trip we made getting there, and getting back, one of the highlights. Heading East we traveled on US 35 and 50. Heading back West we traveled on US 30, known as the Lincoln Highway, US 40, known as the National Road, and US 6, known as  the Grand Army of the Republic Highway. We spent a little time on US 250 which, depending on where you are, is either a North-South highway or an East-West highway. Good luck with the GPS.

There is an entire country of small towns and of people out there living along those roads that you’ll never see from the Interstates. Some of these towns and people are flourishing. Most are not. A few have found ways to keep themselves viable. Most just seem to be waiting for the inevitable. You know the old joke: will the last person leaving town please turn out the lights.

In case you’re wondering, yes, I kept up my streak. I’m at 194 days of moving, intentionally, for 30 minutes or more. And yes, some days it was exactly 30 minutes.

But we moved, intentionally, for hundreds of miles every day for no particular reason except it was what we wanted to be doing. Sounds a lot like what  running and walking or any other activity should be.

Waddle on,

John “the Penguin” Bingham, Competitor Magazine columnist
Author, The Courage to Start,No Need for Speed, Marathoning for Mortals and Running for Mortals.

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