When I started building bike seats 13 years ago, I did it because I wanted a more comfortable seat. Getting an idea from my mind to a physical product I could ride took years, almost 50 prototypes and an immense of time. But I did it because it was just something I wanted to do.
Since founding the company we have sold comfort seats all over the world. Often times in my blogging and posts I encourage readers to live their lives a fully as possible. Specifically that means: not being afraid to tackle huge rides, not being afraid of the possible pain or failure that can result from “living large”. I also deeply believe that to stay mentally sharp and adaptable one must challenge themselves at least once a year. That a mental, physical or some activity that “presses the limits” is what will ultimately keep us young at heart and our bodies healthy. So, after seven years of working at RideOut, I took on what was to be my biggest challenge since founding the company.
I’ve just returned to RideOut office after 11 weeks in the Florida Keys working on my sailboat and moving her to Georgia. In late December, I did something I have dreamt of doing since I was 21 years old. I bought a 41 foot boat and renamed her, Lazy J.
Two and a half months doesn’t sound like much time, but it feels like a lifetime and I have seen so much. Beautiful days of ocean sailing where iridescence blue flying fish skit across wave tops in a frantic frenzied flight to defy death and dolphins slip silently alongside the boat. Midnight passages when alone at the helm my thoughts tumble and roll like the waves.
During one watch I watch a lazy blood orange crescent moon lay on the horizon and it seems to mock me. The waves grow and the bow slices into the rollers, the red and green navigation lights disappear into the spray. Alone, on the middle of an ocean in the middle of the night, alone, save the demons in my mind. It is frightening this aloneness and the hours pass. To keep myself awake, I eat a bag of popcorn, slowly chewing one salty kernel at a time, trying to eat down my fears.
Passages like this require faith: faith in your boat, faith in your instruments, faith in yourself. The moon, now a cold hard light is high in the sky. Clouds pass by selfishly stealing what little light I have and I wish I could will them away. Who am I to think I could do this? For certainly to feel this small, this helpless, this vulnerable, was never on the agenda.
President John Kennedy kept a plaque of the fishermen’s prayer on his desk. It read:
“O God, Thy sea is so great and my boat is so small”
I understand. I worry. I’ve been the sole who is responsible for getting this craft seaworthy. Did I do everything correctly? Did I take care of the diesel engine?
And yet again the sun rises, this boat which a few hours ago seemed like a survival pod becomes a home again. Again, the dolphins dance. Early one morning, I looked up and saw what I thought was a floating log, about to place the autopilot on standby and make a course correction. I look again only to realize it was a sleeping Right Whale, much longer than the boat, just ten feet away.
There have been glorious sunsets, predawn departures, stunning days, picture perfect anchorages, scary moments when I ran aground, frightful storms and nights where I fell asleep before I could eat I was so exhausted.
When the offshore weather was brutal, I motored up the coast of Northern Florida and Southern Georgia using parts of the Inter Coastal Waterway. This was amazing, for this land has been protected and remains just the way it was when the first Europeans arrived.
The banks of the waterway are lined in moss-draped trees, herons, kingfisher’s and egrets wade the banks looking for lunch, manatees munch on grasses and alligators bask on the mud banks seeking the sun’s warmth.
This time has been far more challenging emotionally, physically and financially then I expected and I have learned so much. The gray matter between my ears had to grow so much at times my head would ache, (well, maybe I just needed to go eat). My time has been filled with some great people and some real scoundrels.
I have learned that I’m not nearly as invincible as I used to be.
I heard once that John Paul Getty, the richest man in the world at the time of his death has been quoted to say, “I would trade it all for a happy marriage”. That is my greatest blessing; I did this adventure with the love and support of my husband. Next time, we’ll be doing it together.