Momentum and Inertia

I enjoyed physics class in high school in Sturgis, partly because the class was fun and partly because I thought Mr. Hines was such a great teacher and a nice man.  We were always conducting experiments and mixing things up which kept me interested in the subject.  But unfortunately, as happens with almost everything in my brain, the more data I collect the more my old memory files are overwritten with something new and are no longer accessible. But recently over a morning cup of tea I started to think about hitting the road again, and oddly my mind flew back to Mr. Hines’ class and some of the early lessons he taught us from Newton’s laws of motion, about momentum and inertia.

Bike trip late July 2013 Newfoundland 086
Definition of momentum (n) from Bing Dictionary (and for the record, I HATE Bing)
mo·men·tum [ mō méntəm ]
1.capacity for progressive development: the power to increase or develop at an ever-growing pace
2.forward movement: the speed or force of forward movement of an object
3.measure of movement: a quantity that expresses the motion of a body and its resistance to slowing down. It is equal to the product of the body’s mass and velocity.
Synonyms: impetus, drive, thrust, energy, motion, force, push

When I left home and spent the next however many days travelling, I started to pick up a little speed. Not so much physically as mentally and emotionally. At first it was really hard to leave home and to even get moving. Being settled into a routine does that to you. “They” say that change is difficult. And while that may be true for some people, I think most of us make changes all the time without too much difficulty. But the level of change I was making back in June was so enormous that it was a big adjustment. However, after I got on the road moving forward each day got a little easier and after a couple of weeks I had found a sort of rhythm. I had adjusted to the routine of packing up camp each morning, riding all day, finding food and fuel when needed, keeping hydrated, finding a camp spot or shelter for the night and so on. I had started to shed the worries, the responsibilities and the commitments of 20+ years at one job, of mortgages and bills, and of a busy schedule and life. The further I went from home, the less intense the missing of it all became. The more new places and things I saw the more I allowed myself to release what I’d held onto for so long and to explore the new. The further I went the easier it became to keep going and to envision this type of travel for several months on end. Life on the road becomes very simple – it really is about the basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter (oh, and fuel). I could go a couple of days without thinking about the internet or a cell phone (a huge change from my previous life). I could be content with a can of heated soup for dinner (not for too many meals in a row though). And I had packed up only a handful of things to wear for months on end, which makes the dressing decision easier each morning. Shall I wear the short-sleeve black t-shirt or the long-sleeve back t-shirt today? Priorities change and habits dissolve….the forward motion carries you into a new way of thinking and new sort of life, even if only temporarily.

Grinding to a halt on July 8 and being told I was not going anywhere on a bike for 10-12 weeks meant an instantaneous stop, and all the momentum I had already built continued to push me forward. By then I wanted to keep moving. And to be told I couldn’t was scary. For how long? What about a place to stay? What about money and medical bills? What about my being in a foreign country and what does that mean? How could it work? What about Brian and his tourist visa and deadlines? My immediate impulse was that I wanted to get moving again as soon as possible…heal, get strong enough, get on the bike and get moving…asap. That’s momentum for you. An object in motion tends to stay in motion. And if it can’t, at least it wants to.

But then Isaac Newton (via Mr. Hines) taught me about something else…..inertia. And that is where I am today.
Bike Trip Newfoundland Sept 16 154
Definition of inertia (n) from Bing Dictionary (I still HATE Bing)
in·er·tia [ i núrshə ]
1.apathy: inability or unwillingness to move or act
2.resistance to change: the property of a body by which it remains at rest or continues moving in a straight line unless acted upon by a directional force
Synonyms: apathy, inactivity, torpor, lethargy, disinterest, inaction, sluggishness, indolence, unwillingness

An object at rest tends to stay at rest. Fast forward through the last 10-12 weeks to today – I have the “all clear” to get back on my bike as of now. I’ve been working to exercise my leg and joints and muscles and start to regain some of the flexibility and strength I lost after the accident. It will be a year before I have healed completely, according to the doctor. But I can get moving as soon as I am ready. I’ve been thinking about the changing seasons and weather and the oncoming winter. I’ve certainly thought about getting on the bike again for the past couple of months. And now I think it about every day. Not so much from wanting to do it, but in mental preparation for what I know is coming.

I’ve had this incredible chance to see and, in some small way, get to know Newfoundland and Labrador the beautiful people here. I’ve made a few very dear friends, who I really don’t want to leave. I’ve developed a small routine and life for myself here, albeit on a temporary basis. I’ve gotten comfortable. And I’ve really enjoyed this part of the world. Now its hard to leave this place. The land, the ocean, the people, the history, the way of life, the stories, the music, the culture…..its all so beautiful. This place and its people are honest, genuine, filled with life, inspiring, warm, and generous and it gets into your blood. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians take you in and make you feel welcome, and they make you part of their family. Not many places and people in this world have that affect on you. And at least I have the good sense to recognize that and be grateful for it. I can honestly say that I think the world would be much improved if everyone acted more like the people of this land. This place is captivating and comforting to me.

It’s like I’ve stood still long enough for the roots of the spruce trees and peat moss to have grown through and into my boots…and its hard to try to pull up those roots, tear them away and take that first step. But I know I have to. This trip and journey are a once-in-a-lifetime gift to myself, and I need to get moving again before winter. I want to see the world. I want to keep riding. I want to get to North Carolina to see my beautiful friend Megan and her two beautiful babies (my Godchildren). And I want to see my mother’s and my dear friend, Billie, in Texas. I miss family and friends and want to go home too. I want to go and explore and enjoy this beautiful world.

But a big part of me could stay here. And no doubt part of me will. Newfoundland Labrador has been good to me. And I will be forever grateful…..and if I’m very blessed, I will come back again someday.

Categories: SC philosophy, TransitionTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Great to here about the “all clear” and that you are healing well. I was wondering about that. Thanks for sharing your once in a life time adventure with us, I enjoyed reading your posts.

  2. I’ve been in Europe for about a month and a half now, and I’ve been going nonstop most of the time, only staying for a couple nights in each place. But now I’ve been in the same spot in southern Poland for 6 nights (and it feels like way longer!). I’m getting ready to head out in the morning, and it definitely feels a little difficult after getting more settled in for the first time, but I’m sure that’ll change once I start making my way down the road.
    It’s great to see that you’re able to get back on the bike, and I can’t wait to keep following while you continue on your journey!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: