Week 8 Niagara Falls, on to Lake Placid, NY|
It's 6:30 in the am on Sunday August 11, 2002 as I sit here in the Adirondacks, on the banks of Lake Mirror in Lake Placid, moments after sunrise, gazing out at a silky smooth lake, after another wonderful week, and last night's evening too enjoyable to describe.
This week was nearly perfect, and just flew by. It would have been perfect, save for the fact that we're each struggling with the harsh reality that our lives for the last 8 weeks will be over in one more week. At the start of the week, I rationalized that I was still on a longer vacation (2 weeks) than I usually get. This morning, on the banks of Mirror Lake in Lake Placid (I've ridden here!), after riding 4000 miles, I'm trying to process that when I awaken one week from today, it'll be over - we will be packing our tents for one last time, closing up our mobile town, breaking down our bikes, and saying our goodbyes. Thinking back to day 1 in Everitt when, and we can all talk about it now, we were scared to death. I was thinking, what in the heck did I decide to sign up for. Huh, maybe I should spend the night at Lisa and John's. But, chose not to delay the inevitable. We didn't know what the summer held for us. We didn't know who was pitched next door. We could laugh at the Double Dutch's story re the cops and the sprinklers and the tent theft, but didn't really appreciate it. We didn't know if we'd make day 1 to Skykomish, let alone week 1 to Missoula, and week 9 to Boston? Yeah, right. So many unknowns. So many sleepless nights. Amongst us all - at least amongst the folks to whom I spoke. Too bad we couldn't talk about it then. But, at least we can, now.
Yes, this is a feat, it's an accomplishment. No question about it. but, you know what? That's not what makes me sad, or really even proud. The core of this summer, and what will make me miss it so so much, are the people with whom I've shared this experience, and the bonds that we've formed. I'm typically not a group person. I don't know what's happened. While I know deep down it's a good thing, it's hard. It's sad. It'll be really hard to go back to spending, if I'm lucky, 3-4 hours outdoors on a daily basis, versus 20-21 hours, every day, outdoors. I'll have to work at exercising an hour or two 3-4 days a week, and 5-6 hours, once a week, as opposed to 6-7 hours 6 or 7 days a week. I do think my body may be in shock. It'll be hard to awaken to a quiet house, as opposed to seeing Jim and Lauri folding their tent, Brian yelping that 'today's another great day', Bill making a cute comment, the symphony of zippers, or the smiles of my 43 comrades.
A week from now we will have dipped our tires in the Atlantic Ocean, we will have ridden across the country. Yes, this is a feat, it's an accomplishment. No question about it. But, you know what? That's not what makes me proud. We realize that we won't get to ride our bikes on a daily basis anymore. But, that's not what makes me really sad, though it does make me sad. The core of this summer, and what will make me miss it so so much, is the people with whom I've shared this experience, and the bonds that we've formed. I'm typically not a group person. I don't know what's happened. While I know deep down it's a good thing, it's hard. It's sad, but it's happy, it's peaceful. It'll also be really really hard to go back to spending, if I'm lucky, 3-4 hours outdoors on a daily basis, versus the 20-21 hours every day outside, like I will have done for the last 9 weeks. I'll have to work at getting to exercise an hour or two 3-4 days a week and 5-6 hours on a weekend day, as opposed to the 6-7 hours 6 or 7 days a week of daily exercise, as I will have done for the past 9 weeks. I do think my body may be in shock. I also know it'll be hard to not eat everything in sight, and to give up those daily ice cream splurges. . . . It'll be hard to awake to a quiet house, as opposed to seeing the group of 44 riders take down camp, which has become a moving family, Jim and Lauri folding their tent, and Brian yelping that 'today's another great day', John walking by, sleepy heads, bill making a cute comment, the symphony of zippers, or the smiles of my 43 comrades.
My journal entries for this week, and probably for next, will be abbreviated. They will be notes to jog my memory of what we've done, and how I've felt. I've got some thinking to do myself . . . . and there are thoughts that I can't just can't send over the wires, at least not yet. . . . I need some time where I can start to process what this summer really means, all of your emotional support, as well as fundraising support (I'm gunning for the $50K marker, and think we'll make it), the summer's termination, and how I return to my life back home. While I'm pretty despondent, actually, very despondent, at the realization that there is only one more week, the solace that I have, and what I'm hanging onto, is that I do have a really good life back home. There's all of you - my community of friends and colleagues in everyday life that make life enjoyable and meaningful - and, I commit to seeking more time, and spending more time, in relationship. Feel free to hold me accountable. Please. If there's one thing I've learned this summer, and I think you've seen it through my emails, is that, it is, indeed, the people that make the difference in life. We can do life alone, no question. And, perhaps, many times, it's easier to do so. But, that's not what really makes life. As I said in the closing of my solicitation letter, to paraphrase (I don't have it with me) - I look forward to sharing with you emails from the road,.....and sharing with you, in years to come, the road of life. I meant it then, and I mean it more now.
As I embark on the last week of this summer's venture (the riding is somewhat secondary), and cherish the last moments I have with this group, and begin processing re-entry into 'real life' - know that I will be counting on you when I return - the friends that I have in the everyday life (because this summer is real, no question, and friends I've made this summer will be lasting friends) - to help me recognize and appreciate the gifts that everyday life presents to us, as well as to help me (and, if these journal entries have had any meaning to you), and to help you, maintain and live some of the nuggets that this venture has taught me, and from what I understand, you - and, the one which I'm currently focused on is that it's the people that make the difference. It's an amazing country, with amazing people. That's for sure. I've never been very good about asking for help.... but, this summer -- starting with help on my solicitation letter and for help raising money for breast cancer research, and for help looking this demon in the eye -- has been a little different. And, it's been good. No, it's been great - beyond words. I'll need some time when this is all done - to really understand it, if I ever really can. But, for now, friends, I will ask for help upon my re-entry to everyday life. I'll need it.
Let's all choose to take the time to notice, and to share, the color of the squirrel in the parking lot (as we did waiting for the ferry to Canada) or the flowers on the side of the road, or the hello, the sincere hello, with the café owner, or gas station attendant. Let's not forget to be human, because, being human, is incredible, and is what makes our country tick and our hearts purr...
The week's riding has been fantastic, again. Upstate NY is beautiful, just as I remembered it as a student 20 years ago. The weather was fabulous, roads great, farmlands interesting, fruit stands enticing, waters delicious, campgrounds beautiful, sunsets stupendous, and night skies a show for which money should have been charged. Eye candy. We've played a ton - up and down hills. Biking was fun. We're in shape. Chats while cruising. Friendly racing. Fruit stand stops. Swimming in lakes. Coffee stops at lakes. Swings. I've visited Geneseo, my college town (haven't been back since the late '80's), had the chance to visit with, and thank, Bill Edgar, a college professor of mine who made a significant difference in my life and, was one of the few, if not the only, who truly encouraged intellectual curiosity and freedom, and got to spend a night with, and 30 miles on a bike (many along the Erie Canal) with, Kathy, a friend of mine from my college (another professor, but one with whom I've maintained contact over the years). In addition, I've visited, via bike, the Adirondack Mountains, a place I've wanted to see since I set foot in New York in 1980. It's a little strange that I went to school a couple of hundred miles from here, but I had to bike 4000 miles to see them. It was worth the wait - The Adirondacks don't possess the starkness or vastness of the Rockies or the mountains in Alaska; instead, they're subtle and sweet, dotted with mountain lakes and covered with trees, and filled with an aroma I remember from my teens and early 20's as a camp counselor and college student in the mountains of Pennsylvania and New York. I can't tell you which are more beautiful - and I guess I don't have to choose. Just enjoy this one day that I have. It's been another glorious week.
Day 51: August 5, 2002 Niagara Falls to Albion; 65 miles; TOTAL: 3555 miles|
Stats: off route, Geneseo, Rochester; 9th state -- New York
The week started on an awesome note. As nasty as the falls were 2 nights ago, I witnessed the splendor of sunrise on the falls. Moving. Unbelievable. No people, no lights. Just pure natural eye candy. I awoke early at 5, thinking I was going to be an honorary member of Rick's Chicks. Rick had some problems with his bike, however, and I was itching to get going. And, although breakfast was at the Minolta Tower at 6:30, just how good could breakfast be? Not worth waiting, in my mind, 30 minutes to get a ride to the top. Besides, the falls were beckoning. The route had us crossing the Whirlpool Bridge, but it was closed until 7. Thought I'd be adventuresome so I back-tracked and went across the Rainbow Bridge. No worries getting back into the states, was merely asked where I lived. I don't think I was even asked for my license. Asked a passer-by to take my photo by the welcome to NY sign, and a taxi for directions to route 31. Jammed. Memories of towns and people I haven't thought of in years. Margaret, Diane, Medina, Lockport, Pavilion, Batavia. Really good.
Day 52: August 6 - Albion to Sodus; 84 miles; TOTAL: 3639 miles |
Songs running through head: I've had the Time of my Life, Wheels on the bike go round and round, 15 Years on the Erie Canal
Day 53: August 7, 2002 - Sodus NY to Fulton NY; 79 miles; TOTAL: 3718 miles |
STATS: 1st nuclear power plant, sign that said "34 miles to Syracuse" --- Wow!
Quotes of the day:
Tom overheard the new riders (1 weekers) say that they were:
I wonder what re-entry counseling we'll need. . .
Another phenomenal day, what can I say? Today, we played in the hills, caught glimpses of Lake Ontario, gazed and enjoyed orchards after orchards. Wonderful.
The morning started with a new invention that excited me, though made the Europeans in our group roll their eyes. I often buy yogurt in stores, and scramble around for ways to eat it - sometimes I try to drink it, and often times I'm using the lid, as origami, and turning it into a spoon. Columbus Yogurt, however, has snap-on spoons. Brilliant!
Got to draft the tandem (Margaret and Alan) a bit - felt like I had loads of energy this am. Amazing what a bit of sleep will do for us. Morning's coffee stop was in Sterling. Many of us walked across the street to drink our coffee and eat our treats. Personally, I lifted Pop Tarts from breakfast. I loved these as a kid and in college; however, I resisted this am at breakfast given their nutritional value (210 calories per bar). I promised myself that if I rode hard, I could eat one. While I tried to get others to partake, I just couldn't, though I did convince Jim to at least try a bite. John and Brian said no - while folks said that these were like some flavored taste in between 2 pieces of cardboard. Blasphemy! At one point, there must have been 19 of us. We also decided that since the SAG's wouldn't stop for us coast to coasters, we'd moon them. Before we knew it, Tom dropped his shorts. We'll have to plan a real moon, however...
Went off route for a couple of miles in search of the winery that was noted at mile 28. Unfortunately, it was closed. Bummer. Mid morning stop was at Ontario's Orchard Farm Market. I wanted to share a melon by cutting it up and passing it along. Unfortunately, after slicing and dicing, turns out it was a dud. They suggested a Californian melon, but. . . instead, we bought pints of raspberries and blackberries, as well as a half gallon of cider.
Rode really hard. Played on hills. Rode sitting down with hands on crowns of breaks. Fun! Fun, fun!!!
Colombo yogurt - with spoon attached. Great invention!
Flat on way home from dinner. Walked back. Replaced tire. Talked to Frank, Josh and Sandy. Some work stuff. Bummed at night that this is over.
Day 54: August 8, 2002 - Fulton to Dexter, NY 67 miles; TOTAL: 3785 miles|
Lifes' lesson: food's been good, not always what's been expected (talking about Mad Mary's in Pierre - Don't get wed to expectations. Be flexible.
Day 55: August 9, 2002 - Dexter, NY to Star Lake, NY; 67 miles; TOTAL: 3852 miles|
Stats: Adirondack State Park, Closing Kumbaya session
Today was another great riding day, despite suffering through some additional back pain. On the drug front, took 3 Celebrexes, several Tylenol, as well as the vitamin and glucosamine. At night, decided to break into the Canadian stash of Tylenol 3.
First break was 9 miles in at the Brew Ha Ha Coffee House. With a name like this, how could we resist? It was a drive-through, and a ton of fun had by all - also managed to get the Biker Chick Jersey shot with Fred's daughters.
Tomorrow is Lake Placid. I've ridden my bike here. Wow. Can't believe it.
Day 56: August 10, 2002 Star Lake to Lake Placid; 75 miles; TOTAL: 3927 miles |
Day 57: August 11 Lake Placid. Duff Day|
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