Three weeks ago today, we biked into Bar Harbor, a triumphant ride. It was wonderful to celebrate our adventure with my fellow cyclists at the closing banquet. Then everyone dispersed, like kicking an ant hill and scattering the occupants, each rider returning to home, family and friends. Don arrived on Friday and we enjoyed Bar Harbor and being reunited after a three-week separation (remember he flew to Alexandria to see me when I was pedaling through).
How quickly we lose the routine of the ride. No more early bedtimes, and early wake-up times. No more focusing on road conditions, weather or food. Don and I began a different “wandering” before returning to Indiana:
June 12-15: Bar Harbor
June 15-17: in Boston visiting Nancy H., touring the Freedom Trail
June 17-19: visiting our daughter’s in-laws in Plymouth, MA, and enjoying the Heritage Museum and a short bike ride on the Cape Cod Canal
June 19-22: Hancock, MA to attend Tanglewood with long-time rugby friends: Friday, Sheryl Crow; Saturday, Boston Bobs Esplanade Orchestra plays Simply Sondheim; Sunday, Diana Krall
June 22: Touring Hyde Park, including FDR Library, Eleanor Roosevelt’s home Val-Kill, Vanderbilt Mansion, then bike ride across Walkway over the Hudson near Poughkeepsie
June 23-24: staying with friends in New York City and experiencing the 9/11 Museum and the One World Observatory, as well as Jim Parsons in “Act of God” on Broadway; also rode our bikes around much of the perimeter of Manhattan and across the Brooklyn Bridge
June 25-28: Virginia with family to celebrate grandson Mason’s 4th birthday
June 28: 11 hour drive from Virginia home to Indiana. On the calendar I had been away exactly 4 months (departed 2/28).
All of these “wanderings” have given me time to reflect on this adventure:
*It definitely felt different from the start as compared to the Southern Tier ride 2 years ago: I had some confidence in my ability and endurance and I was riding with a group of very experienced cyclists.
*Quickly my hay fever was a factor as spring was already in the air. While I enjoy the beauty of blooming flowers, my nose and eyes are not so appreciative. And with the trees already having leaves, there were no long vistas to enjoy. Sometimes, it felt as if we were cycling in a green tunnel.
*In many small towns where there was no grocery, no pharmacy, basically no services, you could frequently find a car repair shop of sorts. What does this say about the workmanship of our car factories and the country’s reliance on automobiles?
*There is no question that states need to find money for road repair – and preferably include wide shoulders when resurfacing the roads. Especially in the New England states, cycling was an art of “dodge ’em” due to the numerous freeze-heave potholes.
*For the most part, the southern Atlantic states are flat. It is not until you reach Virginia that you begin to experience the hills – and then they continue with a vengeance. I think the steepest and longest were in Connecticut, but there was very little flat terrain north of Washington, DC. I don’t have good climbing legs to begin with and they were “spoiled” by the flat of the southern states so I found the New England states a real challenge due to the hills. But I am not too proud to walk a hill, pushing my bike beside me.
*It may be selective memory, but I have little recall of aggressive drivers on the road. I did tire of the constant sound of cars and trucks, preferring the sounds of nature to tires on pavement.
* I actually miss the “Biking Bubble”, the structure of the day. But as fellow rider Barbara B. wrote, there is much to learn when you emerge from the Bubble:
Lessons Learned in the Biking Bubble
Stuff happens. You can’t control it. Let it go and enjoy the ride.
Improve your daily life by being more mindful and present.
Keep the TV and media on very low volume. Everyday, people are drawn through the media to what they perceive as “bad stuff” happening in the world. Often, the bad stuff didn’t happen or has an explanation they are not aware of. And almost always, the situation is not as bad as perceived, nor does it have a solution we can influence. Change your focus. Look for the good and wonderful things about your life and others. Dwell there, not in a stew of negativity. Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.
*At age 67, I have proven to myself that I can take charge of my body and my mind and achieve the goal of riding every mile. How long will this endurance and ability continue? I hope for many years to come. While I don’t have a goal to cycle the perimeter of the U.S., I would love to cycle down the West Coast, enjoying the ocean by my side each day. And I would gladly return to Maine for more cycling, even with the hills.
Thank you for joining me on this epic ride – and for supporting Equal Justice USA along the way. Your comments and encouragement have been much appreciated.
May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; The rains fall soft upon your fields and Until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.