The only thing we have to fear is this litany of fears I’m typing up right now.
Bike and Build is kind of scary.
One of the first search results you (or my parents) get when you look for it online is “Bike and Build deaths.” And I distinctly remember every detail of the moment I opened up my email the summer after freshman year and saw that a member of the Brown frisbee community had joined that list, so that fear is very real to me.
But even beyond that risk of tragedy, every person I mention my trip to seems to respond with their own list of reasons they’re afraid for me. These range from the heat to the exhaustion to the no beds to the new region of the country. I’m sure no one means any harm by this, but when the first reaction I get when I tell people what I’m about to do is a list of the terrible things about to befall me, it psyches me the hell out and makes me wonder if I’m an idiot for not seeing the huge, flashing DANGER: HORRIBLE IDEA sign everyone else seems to.
But I’ve decided that I’ve spent enough time nervous. Being scared of Bike and Build isn’t helping me since I’m just gonna do it anyway. Therefore I’m enacting a new policy to not sweat the petty stuff, nor pet the sweaty stuff, and to fuck the scary stuff.
To help make this a real state of brain being rather than simply a marvelous bon mot, let’s go into my list of Bike and Build fears and come up with an ACTION PLAN to address each one.
- Being weak and slow
- Being tired and hot all the time, which makes me grumpy
- My ankle twisting or getting some other weird injury that makes biking hard/impossible
- The other riders finding out that I’m the Zodiac Killer
- Be gentle with myself. I don’t need to fear this because I already KNOW that I’m weak and slow. So I can just go in owning it! Later on in life, when I tell my grandchildren for the millionth time how I biked across the country, they’re not gonna be like, “yeah, but were you in the front or the back of the group?” Their reactions will be more along the lines of, “Oh my god, how are you not sick of telling us this story yet?!”
2. This fear dates back to when Carly and I went to a flea market in Brooklyn (so far back in fact that it was before I knew anything about Brooklyn geography, so I have no idea where we were). I was so hot, which made me really lose my cool omg did I just write that. But somehow I survived Zanzibar without being any meaner than usual to anyone else, and Zanzibar was so hot that my first night back on the mainland (of Tanzania; Zanzibar is an island AN ISLAND OF HEAT THAT IS) when I got in bed, I pulled up the blanket to cover myself, then noticed what I did and shouted to the person sharing my room, “Katie!!!! It doesn’t feel like my skin is going to melt off when I put this blanket on me!!!!” I hadn’t used a blanket in three weeks, just basked in the hot, stifled air of a mosquito net. If I can make it through that, I guess I can make it through this. And I’ll continuously dump my face in the sink of every piece of plumbing I pass. Failing that, I’ll just keep my meanness to myself but not direct it AT myself. Silver lining: Perhaps the experience will make me a stronger anti-climate change activist, because I’ll be seeing firsthand the future the rest of the country has to look forward to. And no need to carry a bulky sweater!!!! I wasn’t that tired in Zanzibar, because I wasn’t biking across the freaking country or anything, but maybe the tiredness will counteract the heat to make me kind of sweet.
3. Idk man, anything is possible. I’ll just keep chugging HGH like I usually do, I guess.
4. Never reveal that I am the Zodiac Killer. If I kill someone, make it look like the work of a totally normal killer, just leave the body the way everybody else does. When someone brings up astrology, act disgusted. For example: “Ugh, astrology?! I hate that pseudoscience.” If anyone says, “I think Jenna might be the Zodiac Killer,” don’t be the first or last to laugh, but laugh with the corners of your mouth upturned and zero glint in the eyes. Don’t point out the inconsistencies that make it impossible that you could be the Zodiac Killer, for fear of the “methinks the Zodiac Killer doth protest too much” accusations. Also, that strategy never works when playing Mafia so no reason to think it’ll work here. Last resort, try not to Zodiac Kill anyone through the end of the trip. Be vague about past, but not too vague. It’ll be fine.
In conclusion, I am still nervous as hell about everything, but now I am no longer afraid.