A month back on solid ground and as suggested by fellow rider Sarah I am participating in a commemorative "jersey day". I am pictured in a storage unit full of books that I am sorting for online sales as well as for a weekend book sale to benefit our UU church in Belfast.
I have been immersed in ride photos that I took as well as the 4000 plus taken by Mike Munk. The benefit of passing time has given me the perspective I need to pare the lot down to a manageable size. Neither my friends nor the local groups for whom I am doing presentations want to sit through hours of pictures and with distance I am able to distinguish the really splendid from those that can perish in obscurity. Waves of delight and nostalgia wash over me as I go through the pics-- exhaustion, tedium and demoralization don't show up at all. Every turn and bend in the road looks enticing, the open plains are enchanting and the hills look far less formidable than they did when I started toiling up them weeks ago.
Negative impressions? Our nation is seeing tough times and will continue to do so for years. The factory farming of beef and hogs is appalling as is the dominance of corn and soybeans-- most of which go to feed the cattle and hogs. The careless disregard of resources bothered me a great deal-- there were never ways to recycle drink bottles or newspapers, water is being sucked out of the rivers to irrigate otherwise arid lands, the towns have been drained of their vibrancy while around cities one finds with miles of parking lots and huge stores, the convenience stores and restaurants are flooded with cheap and unhealthy food and the evidence of our addiction to oil is most discouraging.
Leaving aside the big picture, however, there was plenty of bliss-- the lovely early mornings, the sweet silent freedom of two wheels, the superb scenery of the West, and the quiet beauty of the high desert. There was the supportive care of the "A Team" , the best group of t staff conceivable and there were the other riders-- fifty days in which fifty strangers became friends. People we saw morning and evening and in passing throughout the day-- fifty people who came together to share the crazy dream of cycling from the Pacific to the Atlantic. It wasn't all gorgeous and it wasn't all fun, but it was all part of the whole and I, at least, drew much support from the strength of the group.
In the weeks before the ride many people questioned whether such a trip made sense and John and I were both plagued with self-doubt. We didn't let our worries paralyze us-- we trained, made arrangements to get ourselves and our bikes out to Oregon and stifled the sinking feelings that attacked us in the middle of the night. Day followed day and one morning we found ourselves cycling out of the hotel parking lot in Astoria and heading east. How did I make it?
I leapt and the net did appear.