Manchester, New Hampshire: Day 49 of my cycling trip isn’t about the cycling. It’s about family. A mile into the day’s ride we entered New Hampshire and passed through some pretty towns, including Keene and Greenfield, on a Sunday morning. But the highlight was intersecting with my family near Francesville. They were driving from the East and I was cycling from the West, and amazingly we crossed paths somewhere on a country road. It was at that time when I felt the journey was complete, and I was ready to thumb it back home:
Well, I did pedall all the way to Manchester where I enjoyed a rendez-vous that also included my step mother Sylvia and my cousin Robin and her beautiful family, who drove up for the day from Connecticut. It had been ages since I had last seen Robin, and my son finally had some playmates.
The evening was devoted to a celebratory and reflective farewell banquet among the riders, support team, and some significant others. A song was sung; a poem was read, and a hilarious skit was performed. Each rider was then awarded an America by Bike “Abby” award for some distinction on the ride, and we then had the floor to address the group.
I received my “Abby” for wearing my cycling shorts inside-out. After 50 days and thousands of miles on the road, I will be remembered as the guy who got the cycling shorts wrong. Upon accepting this award, it was only appropriate that I drop my pants to reveal underneath a pair of cycling shorts inside-out. That resulted in considerable laughter. It was the first time, ever, I have dropped my pants so publicly.
During my farewell remarks I reflected on the morning of June 21, the start of this ride. In Astoria with my cousin Kevin, I shared to the group a conversation he and I had about how preposterous and unlikely this whole endeavour seemed, which made the present moment somewhat surreal. I then expressed sentiments of appreciation to the fine and fun group of cyclists with whom I shared this experience, and much gratitude to the incredible support team who got us here, to this moment, safely.
The support team also had an opportunity to address the group. Barbara, in her infinite wisdom, told the crow of mostly hyper type-A people with a need for speed to essentially slow down, and to not forget to live in the moment. Throughout this trip she has dispensed very wise and caring motherly advice.
Tomorrow I cycle to the beach.
Day 49 Summary:
Day 49 route: Brattleboro, VT to Manchester, NH
Day 49 mileage: 82.92 miles
Cumulative mileage: 3,642.06 miles
Day 48 climbing: 4,200 feet
Cumulative Climbing: 102,495 feet of climbing
Now for the Top 10 list. When you spend 50 days in intense physical activity with 50 very diverse period, all kinds of things get said. Here are my favourites. If some of these things don’t seem so funny, well I suppose you had to be there. And we cyclists do have a warped sense of humor.
#10- “It’s going to be hard to take it all in.” Said by 79 year old Howard, referring to the Corn Palace, the rodeo, and dinner at a Mexican restaurant.
#9- “Have you seen my Kuchaloo?” asked Nan. Wow, that takes our friendship to a whole new level.
#8- “I paid good money for this. Why?” asked Don, climbing Teton Pass
#7-“You clearly don’t own a pair of cranky pants” said Margot to Texas Tom
#6-“If you don’t rinse your shorts enough, you end up with soapy butt,” advised Jeff, one of the tour leaders
#5-“The rain has washed away my butt lube and I am chafing somewhat awful,” said Don
#4-After I confessed I wore my cycling shorts inside out for 92 miles without realizing it, that elicited all kinds of responses and has been the butt of many jokes (no pun intended). “But where did you put your chamois butter?” asks Beth. “It just goes to show we don’t look at each other’s butts as much as we think,” said Barb. “That’s how to get 184 miles out of a pair of shorts” reasoned Texas Tom
#3- “He’s coming to ride. I’m coming to talk,” confessed Teresa, referring to Pennsylvania John
#2- “Mike doesn’t know what he’s missing. It’s so cool and tangly,” said Katie, referring to chamois butter and Mike’s comment that he’d never tried it in 175,000 miles of cycling.
#1- “If your corn flakes taste funny, don’t blame it on me. I just needed a place to pee,” said Don