(photo: birds awaiting a thermal - early morning outside of Clarksburg, MD)
I don't know if I sense a "transition" from the Big Ride, back to my pre-BR life, or if it is more like changing TV channels. Experiencing the Ride is a distinct reality. You get up, pack up, eat up, clutch your cue sheet (i.e. map) for the day's route, and head out to reach your the designated destination. During the event, I didn't seek out national news, and did not refer to a calendar. My mental energy was used up by staying on course, riding safely, collaborating with others in the group, and stoking my determination to complete the journey. My focus was limited to the day at hand, the horizon in sight. While aware that I was slowly chipping away at a larger goal, gazing directly at it might have been counter-productive.
I have returned home and to work. It's been interesting to hear from people who had been following my blog.
- "You haven't mentioned your hot feet recently. Did that get resolved?"
- "You seem tired toward the end. Were you really?"
- "You sure ate a lot. Did you gain any weight?"
- "How did your bike hold up? Did you have many problems?"
- "You didn't mention rain. Did you have any?"
I can tell you that my problem with hot/sore feet DID crop up later in the Ride on warm-hot, high-mileage days. I just wasn't compelled to write about it any more. The first several instances of this painful condition were the most significant to me.
I don't know if I was more tired toward the end - I DID feel better prepared. But understandably, the accumulated mileage takes its toll on your body.
Yes, I did eat a lot. But in the state that I was in (no pun intended), my meals (quantity and frequency) were usually just a means to an end: feeling sated. Ordering pie with ice cream after polishing off several pieces of chicken and a baked potato might sound excessive. But if you are still hungry, you dive into the pie. On layover days, I often felt less hungry, as though my body could immediately dial down the appetite when at rest. Comparing pre-and post-Ride weight? I lost about 2 pounds.
My bike - a Rodriguez Stellar - held up extremely well! I had a total of 2 flats during the 3300+ mile course. A few specific actions kept this number low: David kindly rotated my tires in Rapid City; And I took a very close look at their surface every few days, to pick out any debris that might have otherwise migrated to the tube over time. The experienced staff at Seattle Bike Repair did a fantastic job of overhauling and tuning up my pony for this extraordinary event. I sent them postcards to announce that the trip mechanic had yet to do any work on my steed.
We were very, very lucky with regard to the weather on this year's Ride. There was not a single day when we packed up during a rain shower, or spent a rainy day on the bike. We had the memorable headwinds outside of Rapid City, and a few thunderstorms. And hot. We had hot days. Cloudless, hot-as-the-inside-of-a-clothes-dryer-at-the-end-of-the-cottontowel-cycle hot. But no soggy days.
A big Thank You is due to my family, donors to the ALA, donors to Pies & Pints, the Marcom team at work who covered for me during 7 long weeks, neighbors and friends who encouraged me during the event, and those who posted comments on my online journal.
May you too embrace a dream.