the cycling is complete, too.... - Seattle towards Minnesota - CycleBlaze

August 10, 2007

the cycling is complete, too....

I woke up early (AGAIN! sigh... ), but at least I got my shorts on the right way today. The room was dark with the shades pulled down and the curtains drawn, so I peeked outside to see if it was light yet.

It was raining.

This wasn't the light, misty rain of yesterday - this was rain... heavy, round drops that felt like a thick finger tapping on you when they hit you. I didn't know how long it would take me to ride 24 miles today, but I hoped not more than three hours. I figured that the latest I should leave is 7:30. I loaded my bike, then for the next twenty minutes I hung out in the lobby eating the free muffins that the motel offered for breakfast while trying to come up with a way to get to Shelby that didn't involve a large amount of water falling on me, but nothing came to mind.

I didn't bother with my rain suit, though I haven't thrown it away. I'm having a formal burning ceremony when I get back. Instead, I used my windbreaker, which seemed to work better.

It appeared there was no way to avoid getting wet, so I started pedaling.

As I rode, the cold began creeping in just behind the wetness. Something else about being wet is that it doesn't prevent other parts from hurting.... my butt hurt.

Okay, that's it. I'm taking tomorrow off.

Riding through the rain: I was cold, I was wet, my butt was sore, I wasn't able to see much of the scenery.... there's really no other way to describe it.... I was pretty miserable.

And then...

I wasn't.

It's weird. I don't know what changed. Was it the fact that I was in another state riding my bike instead of working? No. I love my job. Was it the beauty of the countryside? No, and is that a hammer I see suspended in the air? Maybe it's just an acceptance of the way things are. I don't know, but peering through my foggy lenses, my socks squishing with each turn of the crank, my windbreaker thoroughly soaked (but working better at repelling water than my rain suit).... Well, had you been able to see me, you would've seen the corners of my mouth turn up.

I was having fun.

Ten miles into the 24-mile ride, it stopped raining.

When I passed the Shelby City Limits sign I had averaged 15.0 mph. I pulled in to a convenience store and bought a few food items to take with me on the train. I didn't want to risk not having any chocolate for a 20-hour train ride. Things could get ugly.

From the convenience store I rode to the train station where I was given (for ten dollars) a bike box. I removed the pedals from my bike, turned the handlebars sideways, and slid my bike into the box. Although it said I wasn't allowed to put any other items into the box, I also slipped my sleeping bag and a few other things into it before sealing it with the tape they gave me. What's one more crime when you're wanted in two countries?

Shortly after arriving at the train station two other bikers pulled up, Brad and Brad, from Madison, Wisconsin. They had taken close to the same route I had, but left much later than me. They took a shortcut, not having traveled into Canada, and averaged more miles per day. Brad (no, not that Brad, the other one) had a racing bike and they took turns pulling a Burley trailer with all of their gear. Neither one of them had panniers. Nice guys, like every other biker I've met.

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my bike boxed up and ready to go
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The end of a bike trip is always anticlimactic. Nothing earth-shattering happens.... you just finish. But I did think about the trip during the train ride back to Minnesota.

I thought about the people I'd met, and the kindnesses large and small that I'd been offered every single day of my trip. I thought about how many of the people I met shared their lives with me. Out of respect, I didn't pass on everything they told me... the difficulties in their lives and the fears they were facing, the cancers, the marital problems, the alcoholic relatives, and the financial problems. I appreciated their openness and frankness.

I thought about how, not surprisingly, my faith in humanity was renewed. In spite of what you see on television, I've found that people are basically good. The Gary Altmans, the Rose Baileys, the Jack and Linda Heermans, the Tom and Carolyn Sullivans... they're everywhere. I've found it to be true on every single trip I've taken in the past, and on this one too.

I thought about bicycling, about how when you're on a loaded touring bike you have everything you need in the entire world. Things are simpler, LIFE is simpler, and you can go anywhere your bike can take you.

This trip, like every other trip I've taken, was an adventure for me... getting up every day and not knowing what was going to happen, and not even knowing how or if I'd be able to deal with it, but ready for the challenge and the fun.

I hope it was for you, too.

Miles 23.81
Maximum speed 31.4 mph
Average speed 14.9 mph
Time 1.36:02
Cumulative mileage 923.34


If you enjoyed this at all, keep an eye out for the 1982 journal I've been working on. 

Today's ride: 24 miles (39 km)
Total: 921 miles (1,482 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 3
Jon AylingFantastic, really enjoyed this Mark. Cheers!
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8 months ago
Mark BinghamTo Jon AylingThanks, Jon! Cheers!
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8 months ago
Rich FrasierGreat journal of a great adventure, Mark! You have a knack for meeting people that I envy. Thanks for writing this one up.
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8 months ago