The Fine Print

HWWLT Logo on yellow‘Awesome’ is the most common response I get from people when I describe my upcoming trip. ‘Crazy’ runs a distant second, and ‘Dangerous’ a close third. Though I prefer to focus on the awesome aspects of my journey – the physical exhilaration and mental hejira – I cannot ignore the truth of concerned friends who think I’m crazy and what I am doing is dangerous. And so, in the spirit of full disclosure and the covenant I feel between my readers and me, here is the fine print of my odyssey. Just like when you buy a car or take out a mortgage, its time to acknowledge the gruesome details of what can go wrong immediately before signing the irrevocable commitment. Since my second favorite quote is Susan Jeffers, “Feel the fear and do it anyway”, this is where I own the fear. Because I am doing this anyway.

The day before I launched my blog, How will we live tomorrow?’ my friend Joe’s brother suffered a heart attack while riding his mountain bike, fell, hit his head, and was unconscious for some period before he was resuscitated. After two weeks of complicated medical intervention, he died. He was 53. Joe’s brother could have had a heart attack surfing the web, just as I could have a heart attack on my way to the library. But realistically, I am more likely to get hurt – and less likely to get prompt medical attention – riding my bike across America than if I stayed in Cambridge. I know that. I accept that. I have decided the experience is worth the risk. I am doing everything I can to be safe; I’m a cautious cyclist decked out in bright yellow with reflective panniers and bright lights. But none of that will matter if even one driver behind the wheel of a two-ton vehicle steers a few feet wrong.

images-7I’ve attended to all the messy details so many of us put off until tomorrow: my will, my medical proxy, my organ donor card. If I get taken out short and quick, the world might as well use what’s still valuable, and tidying up after me ought to be easy for those left behind. If I get taken out short and quick, find solace in knowing I quit the earth doing what I love.

Writing these words will make me safer by making me more cognizant of the dangers I’m inviting into my life. We cannot control the future. But if we have a vision of what it might be, we can work toward that vision. I cannot control my fate on the road. But if I’m aware of what a fragile yellow speck I am on the face of this continent, I can be doubly careful to navigate well.

imgres-3That’s all the doom and gloom I wish to share. Get ready for pedaling out on Wednesday. You will be safer than me, in the comfort of your bedroom or your office. But rest assured, I’ll be having more fun.

About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am a writer, architect, cyclist and father from Cambridge, MA. My primary blog, is an archive of all my published writing. The title refers to a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity. The objective is balance without stability. My writing addresses opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. During 2015-2106 I am cycling through all 48 mainland United States and asking the question "How will we live tomorrow?" That journey is chronicled in a dedicated blog,, that includes personal writing related to my adventure as well as others' responses to my question. Thank you for visiting.
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2 Responses to The Fine Print

  1. David Gibson says:


    I was thinking “interesting” and “opening yourself to the world around you.” Crazy never crossed my mind. Dangerous might have, but for the reasons you pointed out and because we will all die sometime it seemed irrelevant as long as the individual recognizes it, decides it is an acceptable tradeoff, and takes reasonable precautions. Once that is done the danger is immaterial to the decision process.

    While you will probably have more fun in aggregate, I suspect at times you will be having less fun. But you will never feel like you aren’t living.



    • paulefallon says:

      David – Such great points. I was visiting my former office the other day prior to my trip and a woman with whom I had worked for years looked at me and said, “You are so alive.” I am finding incredible energy in this undertaking.


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