A Late Update

It's been quite some time since I've provided an update regarding my ocean rowing plans, or any blog post for that matter.  Over a year, in fact - it seems like a flash.  But fear not, my time was spent wisely (for the most part) and progress was made.  It turns out custom boats are ridiculously expensive - big surprise!  Perhaps I should've set aside a few more shekels along the way.  Regardless, I began searching for a builder to construct my boat and this newfound obstacle became readily apparent.  Because of this, the project is now labeled Pacific Ocean Row 2017, a one year delay.  In the scramble of attempting to make a 2016 departure and recognizing a budgetary deficit, I searched for sponsors and attempted a crowdfunding campaign to no avail.  Not deterred, I began looking for employment that would enable me to fund the trip.    

Luckily, I found a job that should provide the funds I need for a summer 2017 departure.  I also found a builder on the west coast near my departure location in Portland, OR called Schooner Creek Boat Works.  I apprehensively signed a build contract in January 2016 with the knowledge that I didn't have the funds available to complete the build.  However, it was a necessary risk to prevent further delays.  The build commenced and the progress is looking great!  For ongoing updates and photographs see www.jacobadoram.com/thebuild

My current employment is a pilot job outside of the United States in faraway lands.  It's definitely not ideal being this far from the build, but so far it's working well.  The fine folks at Schooner Creek are graciously allowing me to help with the build when I'm in town and are very supportive and accommodating in regard to my unique constraints.  

In more good news, a design brief of my boat was featured in Professional Boatbuilding Magazine, Issue #161, June/July 2016, written by the naval architect Eric Sponberg.  It provides a great overview of the design considerations while developing the architectural plans.  You can read the article at www.jacobadoram.com/thedesign.  I also found a nutritionist out of Oregon State who is helping me develop an appropriate diet for the journey, and I even found a personal trainer to help with my physical requirements while overseas.

Lastly, I found a filmmaker by the name of Dave Unitan who is creating a documentary of my journey (www.daveunitan.com).  We've already had some interviews, he's recorded me with a drone while kayaking on the Colombia River, and he's captured some footage of the build currently underway.  It's just the beginning, but it's pretty exciting and also a bit nerve-racking.  I've always been fairly private, so the acute awareness of being fully on display stirs feelings of vulnerability and nags at my insecurities.  But isn't that partly the point of all this?  It's facing challenges head on, facing fears, and seeing insecurities for what they truly are.  It's getting a clear view of all your doubts under a glaring light and staring them down until they dissolve into nothing.  Something like that.  

So that's what transpired over the past year.  While my original plan for a 2016 departure failed, each obstacle is gradually being pushed aside.  By the way, I successfully finished my bicycle ride across the country, but obviously failed to write about the overall experience.  Apologies for maintaining a blog without posts.  I'll just say it was an awesome trip with great scenery and amazing people along the way.  The objectives were met.  Other than the four previous blog entries, I didn't write much more about it, maybe I should've.  Upon completion, instead of lingering in thought about the trip, I immediately turned to getting a boat built.  I'm still working on this writing thing, staying motivated, and fending off the insidious objects of my attention.  And again springs another insecurity - putting my words out there doesn't come with comfort.  At least not yet.

Paddle On


My grandfather once lamented that the younger generations haven't experienced any real adversity.  I was probably 12 years old at the time.  I didn't really get the point, but it stuck with me.  By no means am I saying riding a bicycle across the country is adversity.  It's a bike ride.  I also don't think he meant everyone needs to suffer through a great depression and bread lines in order to build character.  Like most things, it's a sliding scale.  It's obvious though, we have it better now than ever (in most places).  Imagine meeting someone traversing the Oregon Trail in 1840.  While you're going on about jets and cars, he's suffering through dysentery and dehydration.  If he makes his destination, the character built during that journey would clearly outweigh the combined sum of everyone leaving out of JFK on a Boeing 737. 

I'm not saying we need a horse and carriage renaissance.  I love modern conveniences as much as the next guy.  However, explaining my bicycle trip to people brings out an incredible positive resonance that's difficult to deny.  Without asking, I've been given a book, magazines, bottles of water, food, and encouraging words.  One morning I was packing up camp and a lady walked over and handed me a breakfast burrito and said "You'll need plenty of energy!"  It was delicious, by the way.  When I was on top of the continental divide, I was invited inside a couple's RV and given water, fruit, and some cookies.  People have offered to drive me into town and back if I needed supplies.  One couple even offered to meet me later on my route to give me a sandwich.  I don't know why the offer was specifically a sandwich, but it was a nice gesture nonetheless.  For reference, this type of treatment hasn't been the norm for me.  People don't just hand me things when I'm walking down the street.  It's not because people think I'm friendly or I put out a good vibe.  I think it's because people recognize and appreciate someone willing to take a difficult route.  The thought alone sparks a sort of motivation or internal drive for something beyond the ordinary.  While these people might not be in a position to get out there themselves, they almost seem compelled to help those that are.  

I've tried to understand this type of behavior beyond the aforementioned surface level perceptions, which has taken me down some ridiculous mental rabbit holes.  For example, I was recently listening to a podcast called Invisibilia, which is a show about the "intangible forces that shape human behavior."  During an episode called Entanglement, it starts by explaining quantum entanglement.  We don't scientifically understand it yet, but the simplest explanation is the fact that a single object can be in two places simultaneously.  Scientists have forced two atoms to become entangled at distances over 88 miles, where changing something in one atom will instantaneously affect the second atom in the same way, faster than the speed of light.  This isn't possible within the constructs of Newtonian physics, and is the origin of the famous quote from Einstein calling it "spooky action at a distance."  Theoretically, a single atom in your body could be entangled with an atom in another person, or with an atom of another planet.  The stuff our universe is made of can be physically separated and yet the same thing.  Now that is wild.  When trying to incorporate this knowledge into my world view, the inescapable conclusion is we are all connected.  We're connected in ways we don't understand.  

It's a crazy jump between people being nice to quantum entanglement.  But, when I explain what I'm doing to a stranger, I see a change in their eyes, I can feel the resonance, I can feel the yearning to alleviate some of the adversity I may face.  Even if that yearning materializes in the form of a breakfast burrito, it's there.  My current endeavor isn't monumental or significant in any way, it's just a few miles on a bike.  However, gladly giving an unsolicited helping hand simply due to the perception of adversity demonstrates something very significant.  Even self-imposed adversity in the pursuit of something extraordinary brings people together in powerful ways.  Why?  Perhaps we are all entangled.  Maybe we are the same thing - physically separated, yet instantaneously affected.  It just takes pushing yourself right into the face of adversity to recognize it.  Maybe grandpa was right, we need some adversity to really grow, to build character, and to connect with others, even if it's just a long bike ride.      

Pedal On  


Yesterday I cleared a 7,000 foot peak, nearly fractured my hand inside the mouth of an American Rottweiler (he was "playing" according to the owners), and I was forced to utter the words "Hey, man.  Can I get a courtesy flush over there?"  Luckily, he complied; he was making my shower preparations quite uncomfortable.  As for the owners of the overzealous Rottweiler, they turned out to be incredibly nice - they even bought me a six-piece California sushi sampler and a box of mixed fruit, then gave me a couple of beers (all before the dog hand-mouth situation).  The people I've met so far have been great - I've had a park attendant go out of his way to help me with a tire, a couple that loaned me some tools and offered me a drink, a fellow traveler that gave me food and shared some good conversation over a couple of beers, and the good Samaritans that stopped and offered help while I was patching a tire on the side of a hot desert road.  I also met a group of people riding on a fundraiser commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Vietnamese American journey to freedom (dashacrossamerica.com).  They gave me fresh fruit on the side of the road, some electrolyte packets, then offered me dinner and a beer when we all ended up at the same spot for the night.  Meeting and getting to know these wonderful people was completely unexpected, and more importantly, impossible if I didn't embrace the uncertainty of attempting this type of journey.  

I heard a TED Radio Hour podcast explaining that humans tend to embrace uncertainty when we play - both as children and adults.  We love suspenseful movies, unexpected plot twists of a book, and the uncertainty of a decision when playing a game.  It was noted that adults who still take the time to play tend to have a more balanced view on life.  I tend to agree.  Part of the reason I left the military was due to knowing that if I stayed, my life would be very predictable.  Sure, I might get an unexpected assignment, but overall, I knew exactly what my life would be if I stayed.  However, embracing uncertainty in our non-play life is a different beast.  Nobody wants to be uncertain if they'll have enough money, uncertain if a plan will work out, or uncertain if they are making the right choice in a major life decision.  I'm no exception, I've had doubts regarding my decision to leave behind a great job with security, retirement paychecks, and great benefits.  But it's not always about the future, it's about right now.  Because that's all we have, perpetually stuck between the past and future.  I, for one, would rather face the unknown and uncertainty than be perpetually stuck in a predictable present.  After all, the unexpected joys of life live comfortably in the unknown.    

Sure, I may have taken some fairly drastic measures in pursuit of these unexpected joys, but it has given me the opportunity to really slow down my mind - to patiently observe and embrace the human experience.  It has given me the chance to really appreciate the confident squirrel that wants a little of my trail mix, the galloping horse running alongside my bike, the stunning views of nature, and the kind hearts of passing strangers.  So I'm going to keep playing, because in the end, it'll work out just fine.  It always does.  

Pedal On  

First Week

I'm on my seventh day and I've traversed a grand total of 138 miles.  It's not very impressive, but as I've mentioned, I'm forcing myself to take it nice and slow, despite my inclination to just keep it moving.  I feel if I can't complete this journey without getting injured, I should re-think my ocean rowing project.  Based on my rowing timeline estimates, I'm even behind what I'm expecting to complete in a week of rowing - around 175 miles.  I'm mainly concerned with my knees, I don't want to strain any muscles or irritate any tendons.  After around 3 hours of riding, I start feeling the stress on my knees, hence the 3 days I've taken to rest in the first week.  My goal is to comfortably ride for at least 5 hours per day, completing at least 50 miles per day.

Other than adjusting physically, everything seems to be holding up fairly well, other than anything I have that inflates.  I woke one morning to 3 flat tires - both of my bike tires and one of my trailer tires.  I patched all three tubes, which helped for a while.  They held for a couple of days but ended up keeping a slow leak.  I ended up changing the bike tubes with a self-sealing type of tube in addition to adding a puncture liner inside of both tires.  Hopefully they will hold up for a while.  I also have a small one-man inflatable air mattress that died on me.  I'm going to try and patch it tonight.  I've gone through the gamut of emotions - gratitude that I'm in a position to even try something like this, frustration in my physical performance, questioning why I'm even doing this, to really enjoying the scenery and people I've met along the way.  The good news is I can tell I'm already getting stronger.  My efforts thus far are giving me some good insight on what's in store once I arrive to the East coast for my rowing training.  Up next is the continuous climb to the continental divide!  Until next time.  

Pedal On  

Initial Impression

Day 1

I've officially started my ride, leaving from Oceanside, CA.  Of all I've read about attempting such a journey, the first thing to expect is that it'll be rough for the first couple of weeks.  I'm finding my attempt is no exception.  But I'm glad to say my first 50 miles and first 4000 feet of vertical climb are behind me.  That being said, I'm forcing myself to take it slow.  The last thing I need is an injury right off the bat.  During my training, I probably should've done a bit more hill work with more weight.  I got very comfortable with a decently loaded bike and trailer, with a max of 1000 foot climb in a single ride.  Now with a fully loaded bike, and some serious vertical climbs, my body is telling me it's time to take it easy for a bit until I can adjust.  I'm having to force myself to just accept that this will take some time, and to sit back and give myself plenty of time to rest.   But, I'm optimistic - I'll be on the downhill for the next segment, and I'm feeling good.  

Starting from Oceanside Pier, CA.