It has now been 10 days since my Tour ended, and I am back in Carmel, adjusting to ‘normal life.’
One of my fellow cyclists has commented that she feels wistful, a kind of unsettled feeling. I agree, not yet back to everyday routines, but not yet fully out of the cocoon of the Tour.
I have been thinking of my experiences and share these reflections:
* I am proud of myself for the accomplishment of this goal. Not only did my body hold up, but mentally I was able to handle the challenges. I appreciate all of the praise, and yet I am somewhat uncomfortable with the glory.
* Several of my biking sisters commented that they had begun to learn to dawdle while on this Tour, to look beyond the handlebars and explore off the route, even speak to the locals. I may be more proud of that influence, than of my riding accomplishment.
* There is incredible beauty in God’s creation we call these United States. I have only traveled a small portion of the land, but I have been transfixed by all I have seen.
* We are also a land of trash. It is sad to see all of the litter on highways and back roads. I don’t know how we could do a massive clean up and change people’s attitudes toward garbage, but it is truly a sorry sight, more visible from a bicycle. We were pleased to note that the roadsides in Florida were cleaner than the other states where we biked.
* Bicycles create curiosity. When we stopped, people were fascinated by our travels, and amazed by the distances.
* I wish we used more trains than trucks, especially as a cyclist. The trucks are not just on the interstates, but everywhere. For the most part, they were respectful of us as cyclists, but at full speed, they create quite an air wake. Of course, I am also happy with the many rail trail conversions that can be used by hikers and cyclists.
* People going to, or coming from church, seem to be the most impatient. One of our most terrifying riding days was around Kyle, TX, with no shoulder and quite aggressive drivers, around church time.
* You can put 30 ‘middle aged’ women together and keep some kind of peace. There are definitely frictions, but we are too old for cat fights. Our guides, Carol and Linda, did a marvelous job of ‘herding’ cats. I will remember these women for the rest of my life, and hope we can reconnect on other rides.
* You can eat a lot of food while long distance biking and not gain weight. Thank heaven for Linda and her healthy cooking! Everyone has commented on how good I look – I hope to keep fit and not regain the pounds I lost.
* I love biking, the healthy feeling that it gives me and the places it can take me. I hope to incorporate more cycling in my daily life, not just on grand tours.
* At times, writing my blog seemed tedious. But I am thankful for the daily exercise of reflecting on the day, as otherwise recreating the memories months later would be impossible. And I am thankful to all of you who read my words regularly and offered me praise and encouragement – it was a great motivator!
Consider this the end of my blog, at least for now. Don and I are cycling around Lake Champlain on the tandem in July, so I may chronicle that tour as well.