What would possess someone to travel long distances, alone, by bicycle? What if that someone was a 23-year-old female? What if she was just learning the native tongue of the land through which she was to bicycle? And what if she had no tools to fix a flat tire?
Some of you may be thinking: That’s crazy! Debbie and I have bicycled long distances together and even we are wondering if it crazy.
However, I suppose what has possessed our overnight guest, Onyou Kim of Seoul, South Korea, to begin her journey today from Boston to places well beyond our neighborhood in Marlborough, Massachusetts, is the same bug that has caught many other bicycle tourists over the years. That bug certainly caught us five years ago and hasn’t let go yet.
Our guest has brought the spirit of adventure to a higher level than Debbie and I can relate to. Her free-spirited dream is now becoming reality. A music major at New England Conservatory of Music, Onyou (translated “love is gentle”) decided to take a few weeks before returning to her native land to see more of America from the seat of her new touring bicycle and get to know more of its culture from the homes of her host families. Debbie and I are privileged to be her first hosts, thanks to our affiliation with warmshowers.org and our proximity to her starting point.
Onyou purchased her bicycle online just a few weeks ago, with little time to prepare and ride it. She was studying and practicing her music as school wound down for the semester. With her handlebar-mounted iPhone doubling as navigator and her violin strapped aboard, she saw no need for much preparation on this journey. Why get hung up on the details? She can figure things out along the way. She claims she’s lazy, but we suspect not. We think confident and resourceful may be better words to describe her. Trusting would be another.
Although I have difficulty relating to her fearlessness, I love her willingness to “go for it.” I admire her attitude. Onyou’s courage and initiative, her desire to explore, and her faith in Good Samaritans down the road, capture perfectly the spirit behind bicycle touring. There’s too much life to discover not to grab it by the handlebars and ride it for all you can. This is no different than traveling halfway around the world to go to school in an entirely different culture. Her bicycle tour is simply another adventure in her education. Onyou is pursuing a dream. Isn’t that what we all should be doing?
With over 10,000 miles worth of people coming to our aid on our prior bicycle touring escapades, Debbie and I are enjoying being on the other side of this scene for a change. Moreover, Onyou’s attitude, ambition, and daring give us hope. It’s refreshing to experience hope from a young person because, as Hope Coaches for TheHopeLine, we often deal with youth who feel they’ve lost all hope.
We also like sharing our touring tales with tonight’s guest. We hope to improve her upcoming travel experience while encouraging her to keep pursuing her own dream. She says she’s doing this tour with the dream that she’ll be able to do it with a husband some day. Now that’s a dream worth holding close to one’s heart. We’d love to encourage a heart like hers, and we’re doing the best we can, but frankly our Korean is not what it could be.