Summer Assignment Reaching a destination, one is overcome with a vast and irreplaceable sense of accomplishment, achievement, and overwhelming rush of pride. What makes these feelings so worthwhile? Throughout both A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryon and Its Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life by Lance Armstrong, characters experience significant Journeys, which help them discover value, patience, and new forms of strength. It is these traits, gained along the way, that become more important than the Journeys destination.
Bill Bryon and Katz do not conquer the entire Appalachian Trail, but more importantly, they are able to conquer and overcome personal flaws while trying to do so. Bryon and his friend, Katz set out for a Journey, their main intentions being to complete the Appalachian trail, and reconnect with nature. Throughout their Journey, Bryon and Katz experience grueling days of long hikes and stormy weather, sometimes reaching below zero. Even though this seems miserable, and at times it was, the challenges helped both men to better themselves.
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Katz and Bryon gained a ensue of pride by experiencing a harsh and deep pain, when hiking for long hours each day. By the end of their Journey, they had become much more “slender and fit”(274). Even though they didn’t reach the end of the trail, physical strength was something they were able to leave with, and feel proud of. Looking back on the hardship and adversity the men faced was a significant accomplishment in itself, knowing that they were able to push through it, no matter how difficult.
Though Lance Armstrong Journey leads him to a medal at the tour De France, he ore importantly gains a value for life itself when fighting his way back to it after being diagnosed with cancer. Even though cycling is “so hard” and “so intense,” Lance realizes that cancer is an even greater challenge, because the “biggest victory’ would be winning his life back (86). Through his Journey of recovery, Armstrong realizes that with cancer, he “couldn’t afford impatience or a lapse in concentration”(86). Because of this he discovers a new tolerance and understanding that he never had before.
Because his illness brings him so close to death, he acquires a mental strength through this Journey; this carries on with him after he defeats cancer, and becomes a better cyclist because of it. Mentally, he can overcome so many things, because none of them will ever come close to the intensity of cancer. In the end, Bryon reflects back on the outcomes of their Journey and realizes that they got much more out of it than Just making it to the end of a trail; they obtained new values because of their gaining of “a profound respect for the wilderness and tauter” (274).
Their experience in the woods for such a long period of time is so eye opening because Bryon and Katz realize the importance of experiencing wildlife first and how far you can get with your own legs. He comes to see how some advancements in society have taken a turn for the worse. For example vehicles are so bad for the environment and have made people so lazy, they are driving less than a couple of miles to work. Once they enter back into civilization, Katz and Bryon have such a greater value for nature, and a new perspective on what its worth.
This winnowers is so much more significant than the destination of their Journey, because it will carry with them forever. After Lance Armstrong Journey through recovery, He the “deep sense of illness” “above everything,” including his victory of becoming healthy enough to cycle again(284). Because of his experiences, Armstrong gained the understanding of “the importance of nourishing” his “body as an athlete(284).
Cancer “forced” him to “develop a plan for living, and that, in turn, taught” him “how to develop a plan for smaller goals like each stage of the Tour” (284). Lastly, Armstrong reflects back that “the biggest thing cancer did was knock down a wall” in him (288). He gained value for more important things than appearance. Being so close to death, Cancer really puts things into perspective for Armstrong because he realizes how lucky he is to have certain things that he always took for granted before.
All these values and traits gained from the Journey through cancer, he realizes, are worth so much more than a gold medal or a moment on they “learned to pitch a tent and sleep beneath the stars,” patience and fortitude,” and above all, “made a friend” found “patience and fortitude,” His battle against cancer forced Armstrong to ask more of himself “as a person than” he “ever had before, and to seek out a different ethic(96).
After beating his disease, and coming back and succeeding in the Tour De France, he shows light to the importance of his Journey when stating that he “wouldn’t have learned all” he did if he “hadn’t had to contend with cancer” (284). He “couldn’t have won even one Tour without” his “fight, because of what it taught” him(284).