When I was sixteen years old, I went to a baseball game, sat in the bleachers and kept my baseball glove close at hand. I knew I wasn't going to catch a home run ball, I was wise enough to know better, but I brought it anyway, you can always hope.
When I was twenty five years old, I went on a bike ride across America, cycled 4,300 miles and dipped my front tire in the Atlantic. I knew I wasn't going to get over my father's death, I was wise enough to know better, but I went anyway, you can always hope.
* * *
I left Seattle, rear tire fresh with Pacific Ocean water, spinning east towards an incomprehensible goal. As the sun arced over my right shoulder, I knew I had set out to conquer America by bike, to fulfill my father's dream, to raise money for a scholarship in his honor, and to grapple with an internal struggle that had been boiling for the previous 16 months. But I did not yet know what lay ahead, what experiences I would encounter or what memories would stay with me months and years after I finished.
Below is a first sketch, a somewhat hazy roundup of my initial thoughts, feelings, reactions and memories.
My favorite single day of cycling was in Vermont when we rode into Lake Placid through the Adirondacks, up and over short steep climbs, plunged at speed down winding tree covered descents, and rolled through mile after mile of pine scented forests.
My most challenging moment of the trip was on day three when my unprepared body and mind were subjected to that sun drenched heat and battered by the oppressive humidity. We rode 95 miles into consistent headwinds and threw in some major climbs, just for good measure. The last climb into lunch was the only moment of the entire trip that I really considered SAGing, I just felt like I had nothing left, but I decided that was unacceptable for me, I wanted to make EFI. I was miserable, but I did it.
My favorite part of the trip was the day in day out spontaneity of it all. It was so exciting to wake up every morning and have everything be new and different: the people, the scenery, the rides, so many unique experiences.
My funniest moment of the trip was when Theresa hit the bunny in Ontario. Or to be fair, the funniest moment was the deranged little bunny foo-foo who came careening out of the forest and smacked head first into an unsuspecting Theresa, followed by Bob saying that it was as dead as a doornail, followed yet again by Theresa's wailing tears at the cruel demise of her childhood pet. I think that's the little brother still inside me rearing its ugly head.
My scariest moment of the trip was the realization of how fragile and vulnerable we all are out there. When Bruce, Jocelyn and Rose had their serious accidents, it reminded me of how a momentary lapse of concentration or just plain bad luck during hundreds of hours of continuous riding could quickly become catastrophic.
My biggest surprise was that I could do it and actually enjoy it. Period.
I am most grateful for the support I received from the staff, from my family and friends, from my sponsors, from all those that donated to the scholarship and for all of you who participated with me all summer by reading, forwarding and replying to my travelogues. Thank you all very much for the support.
And what now you might ask. What do I do after hiking in New Zealand for 3 months then returning to ride my bicycle across America in honor of my late father? To be honest, I'm not sure yet, I think I'm going to go for a bike ride and give it some thought.
* * *
When I was sixteen years old, I left the baseball game with my glove in hand, glad to see a great game, but no home run ball to be seen. I was still happy I brought the glove though, having it along made the game that much better.
When I was twenty five years old, I finished my bike ride full of satisfaction, glad to see an amazing country with a great group of friends, but still struggling with the loss of my father. I was still happy I went though, having gone made my life that much better.
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