Skate across America Day 16: Hills, Detours, and Teddy Roosevelt

Oct. 19, 2010



Total Distance for today: approx. 22.8 miles
Total Distance for Trip: approx. 198.2 miles
Current Location: Darlington, MD

Hills and Detours

I started out today’s skate with a very specific intention: Skate from North East, MD to Abingdon, MD and call it a day. Instead, I ended up running into an in-pass where US-40 crosses a river who’s name I can’t seem to find. Let’s just say that it’s wide. I was concerned about my ability to cross the river on the Hatem Bridge, because the Google Maps images did not look too awful friendly for skaters. But, I thought it would make the most sense to risk it and just skate up to US-1, if I couldn’t cross. It would be about a 10 mile detour to skate up to US-1. Guess what I ended up doing?


It was funny, because an officer actually stopped me and told met that I couldn’t cross there (about a 1/2 mile from the entrance to the bridge), but he then suggested that I hitchhike my way over, if necessary. Now, I’m all about breaking the rules in situations where the rules are doing little more than getting in the way, but I’m not talking about laws against hitchhiking here. I’m talking about my own rule: I will skate across America. This means no hitchhiking, even if it means taking a 10 mile detour… over a mountain! I remember beginning my skate toward US-1 and thinking, “Man! It seems like everywhere I go is uphill! There has to be some downhills, eventually!” There was, and it was rather nerve-racking to say the least. Nothing out of control, but it would have been, if I didn’t have a brake on my right skate. :-)

The Man who Was too Stubborn to Be Weak

I was fortunate enough to have read the first chapter of a new book last night about Teddy Roosevelt’s little known adventure down “The River of Doubt” in South America. That quest holds some parallels to my own, as it involved an expedition into the unknown, but the most important part from last night centered on Roosevelt’s psychology. The author, Candice Millard, paints the picture of the ultimate self-made man. Weak and sickly as a child, his father had told him that he had the mind but not the body to do great things; he would need to “make his body.” And so he did! Roosevelt routinely used intense physical exertion in what he called “the strenuous life” to combat emotional obstacles in his life. He would become stronger than any obstacle he faced.


As I climbed the hills and mountains today and took the detours, I told myself:

“I am not tired, and even if I were, I should not long for the back side of the hill and it’s downhill ease. I should long rather for the strength that climbing the front of the hill will bring, because that strength will make all further hill-climbing as easy as coasting.”


I’ve beat this concept of “self-overcoming” into my head on countless occasions, but I found a new vigor in the example of Teddy Roosevelt. Is it any wonder that he is known as one of the greatest adventurers, presidents, leaders, and men of the modern age? I’m not trying to be like Roosevelt; I vow never to run for public office! 😉 I’m just trying to overcome myself, because it is when we overcome ourselves that we find life’s greatest secret: Life is that which overcomes itself! Next time you feel too faint to achieve what you set out to do, remember the example of Teddy Roosevelt: The man who was too stubborn to be weak!

Hospitality!

On a cool side note: Since I had to take the detour, I ended up not being able to get to my intended destination before nightfall. Just as the sun was setting, and I was skating on to who knows where, a man called to me from the side of the road. His name was Kevin, and he wanted me to come speak to his family about what I’m doing. I came in and spoke to Kevin, Tonja, and their family about my mission to inspire a bold and pioneering spirit into the hearts of young Americans. They were quite moved and offered Dillon and I a place to park the RV tonight. We enjoyed warm showers and some great conversation. I keep saying this, but I will say it again: If you set your intention with certainty and take action, what you need will come to you when you need it!

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