Southern Tier Sankofa 2021

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, JR.

The road is calling. Maybe it’s a zoom or a FaceTime or something. But I undoubtedly must answer. A little over a year and half ago, I was lamenting the lack of long distance touring in my recent past. At that time, my beloved cross country ride was 8 or 9 years behind me – and it had also been 5 years since a modest Florida Keys ride, my last tour on ANY length. (Shame. Shame. Shame.)

My cross country on the Northern Tier route in particular holds a special place in my blood pumper. Operating at maximum capacity of body, mind and soul, it serves as a beacon and a moment when my entirety of existence felt aligned to the core. Routinely moving under my own power across time and space, day after day and town after town; achieving unified frequency vibration. It wasn’t realistic, but I wanted to do nothing but these long solo tours, forever.

Needles to say, I’ve come to recognize those weeks in July and August and September 2010 as a personal North Star, a guiding light, a source of inspiration and connection. I don’t dream much, but it’s most definitely the shit dreams are made of – and yet so far removed from my then-current situation. Had I left my path? Lost my way? Was it even my fault, or had I been bamboozled? Led astray? Run amuck? Was I even the same person who did these extremely satisfying bicycle tours anymore? What had become of that maximum capacity?

I dig-dug deep and pulled out a 1,500 mile solo ride from NOLA to Buffalo in summer 2019. Then I invited a few friends to join me on a 1,300 mile ride this past June and July. Both of these experiences helped bring me back to the center – all that hard work and pain and sweat just to ride from A to B – and yet just an abbreviated version of that natural high of being out there for a prolonged amount of time. I was renewed.

Back in the late 90’s my very good friend and brother Dr Kush Bhardwaj was always laying down the wisdom of Sankofa. And years later I’d witness him teach University at Buffalo students the same. He’d wave around his cane, then bang it loudly it on the desk or floor and proclaim, “Return to the source and fetch!”.

Wikipedia suggests the following:

Sankofa (pronounced SAHN-koh-fah) is a word in the Twi language of Ghana that translates to “Go back and get it” (san – to return; ko – to go; fa – to fetch, to seek and take) and also refers to the BonoAdinkra symbol represented either with a stylized heart shape or by a bird with its head turned backwards while its feet face forward carrying a precious egg in its mouth. Sankofa is often associated with the proverb, “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi,” which translates as: “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.”

So I’m returning to the source; I’m going back and getting it; I’m embarking on my longest ride in over a decade – perhaps ever. Friends new and old are joining. All are welcome for some or all of this Southern Tier Sankofa 2021. We leave mid February for 3,200+ miles along the adventure cycling association’s Southern Tier cross country route – and we will be sitting on our ass the entire time.

About tonycaferro

Entrepreneur, Citizen, Marketeer, Fire Fighter / EMT, Bicycle-Tourist, Booking Agent, Youth Mentor, Activist, Agitator, Coffee Addict, Foodie, Social Media Nerd, Amateur Film Critic, Son, Brother, Uncle & Rust Belt Representative. Follow me on Twitter @dtr45
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