Philadelphia trip summary: On 30 November, the author departed for a 175-mile overnight bike ride from Bethesda, MD to Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pa. The journey culminated with a National Park ranger tour of Independence Hall on 2 December. After a year exploring a fictional collapse of the republic in “Cardiac Gap,” this visit to the founding fathers brought a welcome recharge of batteries.

Why ride 175 miles to mark final publication prep for Cardiac Gap? A couple of reasons. At the most immediate, I wanted a personal way to close the writing and editing phase of the novel. Narrator Mark Elliot’s first words hit the laptop screen in January, 2018. The next eleven months saw nine drafts, double that re-write of key scenes, and working with industry experts who would become my indie publishing advisors. I loved every minute of it.

By November, this marathon neared its end. The book would go to final proofreaders and advance readers soon. I would move on to publishing, promotion of the book, and knocking around for future writing projects. How to personally mark the milestone?

Like many who grew up through the special operations community, time spent outdoors and time in good hard physical effort became more than part of the job. It became a way of life. And, in a world increasingly plastered with screens and never-ending data streams, even a couple days of full-on physical work has a regenerative effect that can last for a while. It gets us rebalanced to how our genes and brainstem are programmed.

On another level, amping up to a truly hard effort felt like something I owed the characters. One of the ironies in writing the book was; here I crafted scenes that pushed it to the edge physically, braved incredible risk, and endured the worst of weather conditions. And I lived it all from the comfort of our finished English basement – taking in the sunlight and sipping espresso! With the east coast socked in a cold and wet early-winter, a long ride punctuated with an overnight bivouac would offer just a little taste of the suck. That might pay a small homage to the efforts of Mark, Ulysses, and Puppy (three central characters).

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