A Chance Meeting: Lifetime Friendship
By Frosty Wooldridge
What makes a life time friend? How do they pop into your life? Why do they make you feel good? Who maintains that friendship? Where does it go into the future?
Some riders pedal across America—west to east. Others ride north to south on the Continental Divide and a dozen other routes. As a long distance touring cyclist, you never know when a lifetime friend might show up on the road ahead or a campsite.
Frank Cauthorn III unzipped his tent to welcome my friend Don Lindal and me on our 2016 ride down the Continental Divide at the Hiker-Biker on Yellowstone Lake. But in the morning, Frank vanished into the early morning sunshine.
“Frank sure didn’t wait around,” Don said.
“Must be on a schedule to make it across the USA,” I said. “Too bad because we could have gotten to know him better.”
As luck would have it, we re-met him in the ghost town of Jeffries, Montana a few days later at the old Baptist Church turned into a cyclist hostel for two-wheeled travelers.
From there, we concocted the 2017 Northern Tier Adventure chronicled in the book: Old Men Bicycling Across America: A Journey Beyond Old Age.
What started out as a ‘quick’ friendship became a lifelong friendship. He always signs off with, “Your friend forever.” What I like the most about Frank: quiet energy, dynamic plans and his extraordinary past. I think you will gain much from his philosophy. He wrote:
Like most people, I’d been building a bucket list for many years while I toiled away at the missile factory that I worked at for 28 years. Many people express a desire to travel in retirement, myself included. I’ve always been a driven person. I’ve completed two full ironman distance triathlons and put myself through college while working full time and raising a family.
I’ve been a cyclist for many years and have always said “when I retire, I’m going to ride my bicycle across the U.S.” As an aerospace engineer I was very familiar with measuring things, schedules. and budgets. In January of 2016 I retired at the age of 59 years old. Being an engineer, I, of course planned out my trip across the U.S. The schedule was very detailed with each day’s distance and possible camp spots etc.
I remember one day riding north up the coast of California with a really strong headwind. I was driving myself hard to make it to my planned destination. I was more focused on my plan than in just enjoying the journey. It was just the first in many lessons I learned from that trip. I was on a path of personal growth that I believe has made me a better person. Although it took me some time to let go of the schedule, once I did, I found myself free to enjoy just being right here right now in the moment.
As a triathlete I was used to measuring my distance, time, what I ate, anything that would affect my overall time. My job had me dealing with schedules and budgets. But, out here on the road there was no sense of the hurried pace of my prior life. Once I stopped trying to control everything and just let life happen, I started to see the world differently. I threw away the schedule and started to focus more on the journey itself.
I had started the trip with the goal of riding my bike across the U.S. What an athletic accomplishment right, no it’s not really about that. Seeing national parks, historical places and places of unbelievable beauty is amazing and I accomplished that also. But, what I really discovered was the relationships of the people I met along the way was the unintended reward of this journey. The journey truly is the reward! I am so grateful for the memories of all the generous, loving , kind folks who have helped me with everything from a bed and a meal to a ride to the next bike shop to fix my broken bike. I’ve met so many people who told me they were living vicariously through me. I always give these people a word of encouragement that people shouldn’t be afraid to get out and experience the world in which we all live. I met and rode with many other cyclists who are still my friends to this day and will always be there for me.
These are the type of people who live life everyday enjoying the simple pleasures of a sunrise, a hug from a friend, the birds singing in the trees, the mountains, the rivers, the beaches, and everything wonderful and beautiful in this great world of ours. These gifts are free. There is no charge at all to open your eyes, heart and mind to everything around you.
I know that not everyone my age (63) can physically do some of the activities that I enjoy. There are no words to describe the feeling of skiing down from the top of a mountain through the trees on a bluebird powder day or backpacking to an alpine lake and sitting around the campfire singing songs with good friends. These are my retirement dreams, maybe yours are different. The really important thing to do in retirement is to have dreams.
Build that bucket list and it doesn’t need to include a trip to Peru to see Machu Picchu. Maybe your retirement dream includes volunteering at the senior center or spending time with the people you love. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs consists of a five-stage pyramid with the top-level being self-actualization. In retirement when all the other human needs have been met its the time for self-actualization, learning to paint or playing a musical instrument or help your fellow man through volunteering. This may be your adventure; the key is to find something that really jazzes you and make that happen.
Retirement is really amazing. I am truly blessed with a great life. I love to ride my bicycle around town or around the country. So, whatever your hopes and dreams may be for retirement, get out there and foster those relationships that make life worth living! Never stop dreaming about your next adventure.
Our coming into existence is highly unlikely but our death is certain. That point may seem clearer today, but what it really means – life or death – is up to us. I have long thought that it’s a waste of time to ask, “What is the meaning of life?” It’s you!
Frank Cauthorn III, on tour, Waitsburg, Washington, Main Street with the dock workers.
“Any baby boomers out there, about 80 million of you, who worked your butts off your whole lives bringing up a family, paid the bills and did what you were supposed to do? It’s time for you to live your own dreams. If you love bicycling, this band of old guys knows how to have a good time. But it’s more than cycling: the author encourages retirees to follow their dreams by backpacking, skiing, sailing, canoeing, painting, pottery making and just about anything that turns you on to your own life. On this journey, these cycling dudes pedal, sing, camp, joke and they laugh a lot. What did I like best about Wooldridge’ tale? He showed me that I can pedal my own bike across the country. This is a hell of a great read. Buy it. Learn from it. Then, go do it yourself. He’s got everything you need to know at the back of his book. It’ll be the best thing you’ve done in your life. And, he tells you how to buy an E-bike with electric assist, so your wife and you can enjoy cycling adventures together. You truly will live, as Wooldridge said, ‘On the edge of wonder.’” Herman Jackson
“This book brings incredible energy to any reader, male or female, young or old. It’s got so much wisdom and inspiration. I couldn’t help but feel like I could conquer the world while reading this book. It really delves into living at what the author calls, “high vibrational frequency living.” When you create adventures in your life, big or small, short term or long term, you live on that “edge of wonder” that the author speaks about. I didn’t realize it until I finished the book. That’s why I read it twice to cement his concepts into my mind. Great reading and compelling prose.” Harold Morgan
Newest book: Old Men Bicycling Across America: A Journey Beyond Old Age, available on Amazon or ph. 1 888 519 5121
Living Your Spectacular Life by Frosty Wooldridge, Amazon or ph. 1 888 519 5121
FB page: How to Live A Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World
Email Frosty: [email protected]
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