Thirty-five days and 1,456 miles into their 7000 mile cross-country tandem bike ride, Peter and Tracy Flucke faced a tough decision. Tracy, who was still under a year out from major knee surgery in August of 2018, was feeling the wear and tear of the beautiful but aggressive west coast mountain terrain. In addition, road work and summer traffic demanded peak performance and awareness from the experienced cyclists. When they looked at the big picture, the national cycle safety experts knew going further simply wasn’t smart...or safe.
It was time to call this ride. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t achieve their goal. Wello caught up with Peter and Tracy to ask them how it felt to have to take their own advice and head home:
How did you feel about wrapping up early?
Peter: Before we set out we know there’s a difference between a plan and what actually happens. Setting up for a ride like this you make meticulous preparations based on the information available. Once Tracy and I get underway, the success of the trip depends on our ability to be flexible, to assess situations as they unfold and to make adjustments. In this case we had to be flexible in the face of the reality on the ground.
Tracy: When you set out, you assume best case scenarios and know that there will be some situations where you don’t have the best of conditions. With my knee, the terrain, road work and dangerous traffic patterns, we kept running into too many sub-par scenarios. That’s one of the hardest parts of being an expert - you have the training and experience to recognize when you’re compromised and sometimes have to deliver bad news to yourself!
How would you say this trip lived up to your goal?
Tracy: I knew going into this trip it would be challenging because I was actively rehabbing up until the time we left. For me, though, it’s not about the 7000 mile goal, it’s about the beauty of the countryside, the fellowship on the road and a sense of adventure. Biking keeps me real - and in many ways having to call the trip off was a pretty “real” experience. We were disappointed but also very excited by what we achieved.
Peter: One of the reasons Tracy and I bike is to make sure we’re staying in touch with the elements of our work that make it a purpose rather than a job. Wello talks a lot about well-being. We bike to stay physically healthy, of course, but we also bike because it breaks everything that keeps us healthy down to its essence. It’s a physical, mental, social and community activity that connects us to life and allows us to play a role in shaping our environment through our advocacy.
What advice do you have for people who want to tackle an audacious goal?
Peter: Plan but be willing to roll with reality on the ground. Tracy and I set out on a 7000 mile trip but it turns out that 1400 was what the trip actually needed to be. We enjoyed so much, worked really hard and came home healthy. That’s a total success for two people who are interested in and motivated by learning experiences.
Tracy: There are big, aspirational goals that tell the grand story and there are the everyday goals that give us purpose. Don’t ever be afraid to set the audacious goals because there are many ways to achieve them - and sometimes that may mean honoring your gut and heading home with lessons learned for next time!