Breaking Orbit

October 02, 2018

Breaking Orbit

We love to travel and explore. And we love steep adventure - a little more challenge and excitement than what might be typical and not necessarily physically ‘steep’. Although big international journeys have been on hold for a few years, we do escape the comfort of Teton Valley a few times each year to visit friends and family and explore the beautiful wide open spaces of the Western US. Our trips are not always full of steep adventure, but as all travelers can tell you, the hardest part of any journey is what we like to call ‘breaking orbit’.

Just like the earth’s gravitational pull, there’s a certain magnetic force of home that requires a heightened level of energy to separate from. There’s of course the typical decisions of what to bring, how to pack it all, and what loose ends can actually be attended to before leaving (I always seem to answer long overdue emails and pay bills right before we take off). But on top of that, there’s the universal resistance that should be well expected by now. Those unforeseen hiccups, distractions, and emergencies that simply appear out of nowhere; serving as a final test of your metal. The universe wants to see proof you truly have the desire to depart.Steven Pressfield fans out there will now exactly what I’m talking about.

To break orbit, and overcome the resistance, you need a certain amount of escape velocity.

From wikipedia:escape velocity is the minimum speed needed for a free object to escape from the gravitational influence of a massive body.

When it comes to leaving on a trip... ok, let’s call this one an expedition… escape velocity is not physical speed, but an imperfect blend of metal fortitude, desire, and stubbornness. But then I wonder why sometimes it looks easy for other friends to leave on an epic journey. Since we live in the Tetons, friends are always jaunting around the world for adventures way steeper than anything we undertake.

Reading further into the  wikipedia description of Escape Velocity you’ll find that

“the minimum escape velocity assumes that there is no friction (e.g., atmospheric drag), which would increase the required instantaneous velocity to escape the gravitational influence.”

We might not have atmospheric drag… but we certainly have the ever present drag of Resistance!

So maybe there’s an escape formula out there, hidden in plain sight. And maybe it’s written like this:

Escape Velocity Needed =(Magnitude of the adventure - Personal Experience in said adventure) x Resistance

Written this way, the level of escape velocity needed starts with the size of the adventure. Then, subtract the amount of personal experience earned from previous and similar adventures. And finally, there’s the resistance multiplier… the wildcard. The more you really want to go on the trip, the more the resistance, and the greater the required escape velocity. Oh, if you have children in the mix, add an additional multiplier of 2 for each child!

Now let’s apply this formula to our Raise Riders Tour. I’ll leave scientific calculations aside and just use a scale of low, medium, and high for each component of the formula.

Magnitude of adventure: 8 months living in a 24’ RV with wife, 8-year-old son, and dog while attempting to build a new national preschool cycling program and grow a business out of the start-up phase. Um…. yeah, safe to say that’s in the high region.

Personal Experience: Well let’s list the things we have almost no experience in. We have never lived in an RV, home schooled, driven a heavy vehicle with a heavy trailer (coast to coast nonetheless), successfully launched a national brand, or developed an educational program of any kind. Everyone ok if we put a zero in for the personal experience piece?

Resistance: The amount of which is determined by the desire to go on the adventure. This journey means a lot to our family. We deeply desire to make a difference in the world through our work. We deeply desire to show our son what it means to create something of importance to others and expose him to the greater world we share with others. And we deeply desire to connect with inspiring people who are out there making a difference in their own communities and fighting the resistance coming at them each day. Oh boy… there’s a big multiplier here.

Oh, don’t forget the 2x multiplier of having a child circling the wagon asking a never ending litany of questions as you pack and repack. And carving away the time to home-school amidst the effort. Does that earn another multiplier?

Escape velocity is one thing, but just like a rocket trying to break free of earth’s atmospheric grip, there’s the pressure and violence of the experience that can make the craft feel like it’s coming apart at the rivets before entering the calm of outer space.This time, our steepest adventure yet, the pressure was massive and the rocket passengers were a little more concerned than usual about whether the ‘ship’ would hold up under the intense pressure of mobilization and preparation before bursting through to the “calm” of the journey!

Which we now have thanks to the the incredible amount of support from friends and family who unknowingly added their personal energy into our escape velocity. Thank you! We’re on the road, we’re finding new forms of resistance, and we’re focused on connecting more families through the power of the bicycle.

And trying to figure out how to drive a 15,000 pound, 45’ long rocket ship!



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