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  • Writer's pictureDan Mularski

Pedaling On Purpose Post-trip Processing: Trans America Adventure 2020

Updated: Apr 15, 2021

Purpose accomplished upon completing the Trans America Adventure. The goal of becoming a better man happened. A joyful feeling for sure, but after years of post-adventure turmoil, finally realized trips/ accomplishments/ feats, etc. require intentional processing afterwards. Knowing an array of physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual letdowns follow each adventure along with noting the good assesses the overall experience.

What is post-adventure letdown? A physical letdown is a surprise that ranges anywhere from needing a much longer recovery to a serious injury. Emotional, intellectual, and spiritual letdowns may not be as obvious. Emotionally, sadness and moodiness occur. Intellectual lapses and unclear thinking happens (see A spiritual letdown might be feelings that question if the adventure was a waste of time or not meaningful enough.

Varying degrees of letdown depend on the adventure. Being wise is understanding that it is not a matter of “if” these happen post-adventure, but “when and how long.”

Each individual has different experiences, but following are some personal discoveries. Physical letdowns happen. Be cautious about expecting an immediate recovery. Starting to exercise too soon and too hard without proper recovery leads to injury after a physically demanding trip. Conversely, failing to get any physical activity for weeks misses the opportunity to leverage all the good aspects of being in great shape.

1st ride 5 days after trip – 17 lb. road bike vs. 27 lb. trip bike + 60 lbs baggage

Nine days passed before this rider’s thighs were not tight or sore. Tingling hands still there sporadically and may take a while to heal. A sore back starting the last week of the trip continues, but is better.

Emotional letdowns hide. Wondering why moodiness sets in after a wonderful goal was just completed doesn’t have to be a mystery. Is the longer than normal sleeping needed rest or mild depression to avoid facing all the things that need done?

An expected letdown for the 12 men that walked on the moon is understandable. A personal “walk on the moon,” different for each individual, is just as susceptible. Negative letdowns happen regardless of the degree of intensity of the adventure.

Getting over the emotional letdown for this writer was 10 days later in the form of peace of mind. Getting caught up on all the things to do and figuratively and literally settling down was hard. Relaxing without worrying is the turning point, but that doesn’t mean everything is stable. Relapses occur, but hopefully to a lesser degree.

One person’s “moon walk” can be just getting up out of a bed after a serious accident that eventually led to running a marathon. Each literal and figurative step of the way is a reason to celebrate, but could also be a letdown thinking, “How can I possibly top this?” or “What’s the big deal?” Walking on the moon can’t be “topped” in many regards, but can be leveraged when looked at from a different perspective.

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

The astronauts that thought a moon walk surely is the epitome of success, didn’t fair well in life afterwards. The epitome of success for many – winning a Super Bowl, becoming a CEO, getting a degree, winning the lotto, etc. – doesn’t bring meaning like it was supposed to. Life goes on. Future Mars astronauts take note of this article!

The large accomplishment isn’t the end. Take the perspective of being a “moon-walker” and leverage that as a platform to help others achieve success. A person that tragically experiences the death of a loved one due to cancer immediately qualifies like no other to help another person going through the same thing. The emotional letdown has a pivot point to leverage it for good.

Whether those letdowns are acknowledged and leveraged for benefit or ignored, dwelt upon, or allowed to wreak havoc is a choice. The effort required to glean benefit is well worth it. Just blissfully resuming a pre-adventure lifestyle fills up with unexpected surprises mostly in a negative way. An opportunity to upgrade to a new post-trip mindset awaits.

Grand expectations unrelated to a clear purpose usually end up as a letdown. Comparisons with others is not good. Comparisons of pre and post trip thoughts reveal thinking that is good and / or needs improvement for future adventures. Buffering the shock of post-trip letdowns is wise.

Labeling outcomes ranging from Exceeded, Met, Disappointed, Surprised, to Frustrated help in assessment. Personal pre and post-trip observations and comparisons of the Trans America Adventure with outcomes is inclusive of but not limited to the following:

Pre-trip: Physical conditioning expected to reach a high level about two weeks into the trip.

Post-trip: Increased physical endurance, but leg soreness throughout the trip was disappointing.



Pre-trip: Wanted to average 70 miles per day.

Post-trip: Accomplished. 60-70 miles used to be a big ride, but did several 90 and 100 mile days raising perceived capabilities for riding.



Pre-trip: One day/week rest and recovery is sufficient.

Post-trip: One day rest for every seven was insufficient. Probably better to start less miles/day with two days rest when needed.



Pre-trip: Few problems with bike and gear.

Post-trip: Needed new tires after one got slashed; total of 6 flats, more than all the other guys. None of the bike shops across two states had the right size tire and tube to replace slashed tire. Had one mailed from a team member ($140 postage), but that ended up being the wrong size. Broken chain, gear shifter cable break, changed front derailluer, replaced rear derailleur pulleys. Many more problems than expected and the biggest threat to quitting prematurely.


Doc Ewig with assistant Hill performing surgery on my gear shifting cable

Pre-trip: Electronic equipment working properly.

Post-trip: Had no data or normal cell usage. Only connection was through a good wifi system. Hindered fb and website posting. iPhone dropped a few times, but not real far and used on two rainy days (phone is waterproof). After first rainy day, iPhone had charging issues. Still malfunctioning.



Pre-trip: Internet connections challenging, but with effort sufficient.

Post-trip: Due to time restrictions, phone problems, and poor cell coverage, connecting to the internet and calling way more difficult than expected.



Pre-trip: Multiple interviews of people across the USA for research.

Post-trip: After the first few, downloading problems, time restrictions, and poor internet connections stopped interviews after the first week.



Pre-trip: Meet some great people (see article across the USA

Post-trip: The best memories involved meeting nice, generous, and funny people.


The Beckman’s hosted us for 2 days. Treated us way better than we deserved!

Pre-trip: Edited videos regularly for posting, but not optimistic this was possible.

Post-trip: Either unable and/or very difficult to transfer videos between devices. Formatting likewise an issue. Lack of time a major factor.



Pre-trip: Posting almost everyday on either the website or facebook.

Post-trip: Never happened with many issues hindering the effort. Especially disheartening the first two weeks.



Pre-trip: Prayed for great weather.

Post-trip: Only 2 days of heavy rain and a few really cold nights. Got snowed in two nights. Overall, weather was great for a 70 day span.


Soaking wet and cold but safe arrival in Williamsburg.

Pre-trip: Didn’t even think about fires out west.

Post-trip: Many days out west included hazy skies from distant fires. Prevented many great photos. Close fires in Colorado, but thankfully not a factor for the team.



Pre-trip: Trip dangers inherent, but relatively safe road conditions.

Post-trip: Oregon has few guard rails on roads with small shoulders and steep drop-offs. Too many roads had little or no berms for cyclists. Most drivers courteous, but the few who weren’t made conditions very dangerous. Yellowstone Park surprisingly not cycling friendly.


Dirt mark from hitting a tunnel wall in Oregon and almost falling into traffic.

Pre-trip: The Cascades, Rockies, and Appalachian mountains pose challenging climbs.

Post-trip: Yes, those mountains were challenging, but the worst were the Ozark’s in Missouri. Continuous steep climbs with rapid descents without any leveling for many segments.



Pre-trip: Have most of the Pedaling On Purpose book rough draft written.

Post-trip: Not even close. Especially stressful trying to implement this the first two weeks mistakenly thinking it was a time management issue.



Pre-trip: Find reasonable prices for meals.

Post-trip: The team loved small town restaurants (see article, but food was more expensive than expected. COVID closed / put out of business many restaurants limiting choices across the USA.


Cookie’s – Golden City Missouri 6:00 AM

Pre-trip: COVID be an annoyance, but not a major impact.

Post-trip: Many more facilities, campgrounds, businesses closed or shut down than expected. Easier logistics, meeting more people, more convenience had COVID not occurred.



Pre-trip: Thoughts of quitting, but none taken serious.

Post-trip: Everyone on the team had varying degrees of thought from actually quitting to coming real close to “don’t want to quit, but have no idea how I’ll make it through the day!”



Pre-trip: Everyone on the team completes TA2020.

Post-trip: Rob made it to the Colorado – Kansas border, but had some major physical challenges that ended the trip for him. It was the right thing to do.



Pre-trip: Minimal conflict among team members.

Post-trip: We all reached points of crabbiness and significant conflict, but always ended up doing the right thing and apologizing. Didn’t realize the challenge of being together all that time reveals team personality challenges.



Pre-trip: Pray for, encourage, and share the love of Jesus directly or indirectly to those met along the way. Hand out cards.

Post-trip: Met, prayed for, and did share God’s love to many.



Pre-trip: Experience from past great adventures assumes letdowns follow. The processing and letdown buffering takes a few days.

Post-trip: Due to the intensity and duration of the Trans America Adventure, a real letdown didn’t hit until eight days later on Sunday. Amplification of little things and drifting from gratitude for all the good that resulted addressed and afforded mercy that processing is still necessary.



Pre-trip: Personal growth occurring.

Post-trip: The best growth occurs when personal limitations are broken through (see Peeved Off or Perseverance article). Some of the challenges during an adventure are truly upsetting, frustrating, and result in unexpected inter and intra-personal (negative self-talk) emotional outbursts. Several catharses (releases of emotional tension) especially in the first few weeks occurred. Upon realizing venting is necessary, but primal screams are not, began to trust that God can work anything out for good (Rom. 8:28). The most weighted of all the pre and post trip expectations is this last one. As long as growth occurs, the adventure has benefit. An adventure that is too easy is better than one the devastates and destroys self-efficacy for an extended time afterwards.



Letdowns are inevitable during and after achieving personal goals. The bigger the personal accomplishment, the more susceptible it is to a letdown. Additionally, the less thought going into an adventure, the more disappointment is likely to occur. Generate realistic expectations and a higher purpose to eliminate the intense letdown.

Some things along the way affect letdowns after the adventure. A supportive spouse, great teammates, health, and good weather help lessen the degree of letdown. The opposites of the aforementioned increase the likelihood of bad experiences and increased letdown.

Debriefing after an adventure closes the gap between deceptive thinking and a fulfilling experience that brings personal growth. A couple of generic recovery mandates are rest and mercy. Spirit, mind, and body require rest whether feeling it’s needed or not. Remember a delayed effect is likely. Be merciful to yourself and know recoveries take time. A number of subconscious things go on that only get revealed gradually.

The end of recovery is not an exact science. As the following list of things happen, the recovery completion is close or finished:

  1. Muscle soreness gone

  2. Reconnected with friends and family

  3. Peace of mind

  4. Spiritual practices resumed

  5. Finances settled

Getting better and closing the gap after each adventure is no guarantee against future letdowns, but lessens negative impact. Learning how to buffer those letdowns requires wise thinking about expectations beforehand and reviewing what happened afterwards. Establishing a process with these factors increases the quality and encourages pursuit of future adventures.

Being stretched beyond pre-conceived limitations and surviving made this Pedaling On Purpose Adventure personally fulfilling. Reviewing all the aforementioned pre and post trip expectations, failures, and successes are valuable keys to personal understanding and becoming a better person. The mindset for the next adventure is better. The old is gone and a new self emerges.

Does not matter whether it is pedaling, educating, marrying, or working on purpose. Readers, what adventure is in your future? Remember, no comparisons to the astronauts or anyone else. A great adventure, big or small, is one that has personal meaning.

Clarifying an adventure as accomplishing something meaningful and worthwhile from a transcendent perspective makes a huge difference. Plan diligently and think through to have wise expectations. Review everything that happened to fulfill the higher purpose. Have one heck of a personal adventure to add to the Bucket List!

You can do this!

#PedalingOnPurpose #TA2020 #letdown #TATeam #adventure

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