(photos: pea vines; crossing the finish line; posing at rest; Big Wonderful Friends)
Wow - the last morning of packing up the tent.
Went through my morning routine as though the it was just another Big Ride day. But camp breakfast was served with uncommon flair this morning: Sharon included some bags of mini Krispy Kreme doughnuts, as well as lox and cream cheese to have with full-size bagels! After loading the truck, we moved on out of the park to the highway. Some Big Rider alums were already suited up and ready to leave with us at the top of our designated campsite loop in Little Bennet park.
For some crazy reason, I thought that today's ride would be a flat course right into Washington. A parade-atmosphere perhaps, with flags and bunting. Maybe a brass band. A dignitary or two.Far from it! We were assigned to rollers, lots of 'em too. They coursed through some very pretty countryside, but they were rollers all the same. After the 25 mile checkpoint, the route took us through some elite (e.g. bordered by gated estates, not just communities) areas with increasingly heavy traffic. As this was Saturday, lots of road warrior cyclists raced past us, going in the opposite direction. They looked very serious (one buzzed by, talking on his cellphone, confirming a rendez-vous point) and barely acknowleged our waves and "hello"s.
Several of us within the group (Ash, Pauline, Barb, Diana, Janet, Rosie, Sam and myself) took turns pulling the others into town. We finally reached the intersection with the C&O Trail where we needed to contend with the weekend crowd of walkers, runners, beginning cyclists, etc. I nearly worn out my bike bell announcing our string of Big Riders. With Tracy's help, we located the Old Post Office and locked up our steel ponies outside. A former Big Rider hosted us at his greek restaurant (located in the food court) for lunch. A very ample and flavorful meal! We then took off for the Finish Line in sets of 2 or 3 (though traffic lights caused us to clump a bit). David and Daniel were there to meet me. The Ride had actually come to an end. It was hard to fathom.
After 48 days of living in a parallel universe - focusing only on cue sheets, personal and group safety, eating, drinking enough water, and staking my tent securely in the event of a storm, those daily concerns have now vaporized.
I am now back at home, having done laundry (endlessly and without quarters in hand), answered a phone call on a landline, sorted though my bags in a vast, bug-free space, and tried to make sense of what I have accomplished.
It's challenging to bring both the Big Rider cyclist and the person-at-home into a singular focus, as the same being.
Did I actually ride across America, or was that my alter ego?