Five years ago this morning, I mounted my bicycle outside the Amtrak station on the outskirts of Savannah, Georgia and headed for Tybee Island. The air was a record-cold 35 degrees, but I was headed for the beach. Around 8 AM I trudged toward the Atlantic Ocean pushing 100 pounds of bike and gear. As the 25 mph winds pummeled me with sand, I dipped my rear wheel into the water. Thus began a 3,054-mile trek across the southern United States, a journey that would end 11 weeks later with the baptism of my front wheel in the Pacific Ocean at Morro Bay, California.
People always talk about such experiences as "life-changing," but I never bought into that. And yet, five years later my life has changed, and my coast to coast bicycle tour was clearly the catalyst. As I documented my ride day by day on my Web site, I rediscovered my love for writing. At the same time, I could hardly bear the thought of returning to my computer consulting practice. It took three years and a couple of miserable consulting gigs to finally push me toward a new career. My online tour journal garnered a lot of praise from complete strangers, and that helped me to recognize that I must be good at writing, a skill I had taken for granted for years. So here I am.
Today I'm designing a Web site for a new client as well as writing the copy. The first site I ever created was for my cross-country ride. I remember working on it at the Ramada Express in Pooler, Georgia five years ago after a chilly ride westward from Tybee Island. Looking back today, there are many things I would change on that site. It isn't my best work as a writer or a designer, but it's encouraging to see how much I have improved in five years. Another decade or two and I'll be pretty good at this stuff.