Day 40: Pittsburgh to Connellsville, PA

Today was one of the easiest days of bike trip.  I did 80 miles primarily on bike trails.  It was very easy for a couple of reasons.  First, I had pedaled much of today’s route five years ago.  Knowing where you are going and what is coming up makes anything easier, including biking.  Second, I only pedaled 10 miles yesterday so even though I drove over 600 miles yesterday my legs felt fresh.

During much of the morning I thought about possessions.  In economics there is a unstated assumption that “more is better.”  For example, all politicians around the world want to boost their countries GDP.  Boosting GDP means more stuff for all the people.

For the last five weeks I have  existed with very few possessions.  For example, I have three pairs of socks with me and I contemplated taking just two pairs to keep down the weight.  When I went home for the weekend I walked into a house full of possessions.

When I was home I spent a couple of minutes staring at the top of my dresser.  Before leaving on the trip I purchased a half-dozen pair of socks.  I had not even opened the packaging.  They were still sitting there on the dresser in a large pile, clean and unopened.  Just below the brand new socks was a large pile of a dozen clean but slightly used socks.  I wondered did I really need 18 pairs of socks?

By the end of pedaling this morning I began to realize how few possessions I really need to survive and have begun to question one of the key underlying assumptions in economics.  I don’t know if this realization will change my buying habits or my lectures in the future, but it might.  In the short term I definitely will not be buying more socks.

In the afternoon I met up with another long distance bicyclist named Greg from Colorado.  He had been pedaling since mid-June and is also going to Washington D.C.  on the bike trail.  We are splitting a hotel room tonight.  It is always interesting to have someone new to talk with about their life’s experiences and makes the pedaling less lonely.

Tomorrow it is expected to rain.  It rained on the trail this afternoon before I got there.  The trail partly turned to mud and my clothes and bike are covered.  Oh, well.  In a few days I will be home and no longer have to worry about mud and rain.  Instead, I can spend my time contemplating what to do with my large pile of clean socks.

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