Today was hard. Our obstacles were (including but not limited to): malicious, evil and possibly Satanic headwinds, unexpected gravel roads, sudden and violent rainstorms, massive hills, forced circumnavigation of a hookie-playing bridge that was missing the road part (photo attached), and shoulder pain.
I struggled today, and I think one could safely say that today was the day that I realized the enormity of what I'm trying to do. However, today wasn't all sadness and adversity; there were several bright spots. This morning Dear Aunt Nelle forsook her church greeter responsibilities in order to join us for breakfast. Actually, she did make it in time to greet some folks at the service, and commented by email that, "They all know we are glad they came to church." She is so great!
While Aunt Nelle was fulfilling her role as the social hub of Wesley Manor -- and therefore introducing us to every person in the room -- I proceeded to order every single item on the menu. Nothing makes me happier than knowing that I've eaten ten pounds worth of food. While working through this mountain, dad's high school friend Kathryn Henderson and her whole family stopped by to give us best wishes, hugs and a card containing a donation for the Arthritis National Research Foundation. The Hendersons had barely left when Melissa McCurley walked in decked out in cycling gear with her husband John, and introduced herself as a fan of Bethanywhere who hoped to ride with us for a bit today. John couldn't ride because he had to work, but I was of course thrilled to have more company on the ride. We said goodbye to Aunt Nelle, and departed for the hilly section of the ride.
Although I complain about hills (and these weren't anything to laugh about, not with my panniers giving me a twenty pound derrière) the first part of our ride was lovely. I really enjoyed getting to know Melissa, and learning about the well loved and pampered lab rats where she works at Purdue. Even the views were nice; perhaps Indiana is growing on me -- still in love with Michigan, but Indiana will do.
We stopped for lunch in Monticello, and unfortunately several things started to go downhill from there, and not the good kind of downhill! First, this super weird storm just kind of appeared from out of nowhere and started pelting us with rain. We were of course stuck in the middle of corn fields, and there was nowhere to hide. By the time we reached a farmhouse and sort of creepily pulled up to it, the rain was already beginning to subside. Unfortunately, what did not subside was the nine thousand mile-per-hour winds. Standing still, those winds were capable of knocking me over; riding into them, they were capable of inflicting severe misery. (Winds not pictured -- I was too busy dragging my seven ton body and bicycle through their invisible tyranny.)
But of course, by the time we reached our turn off from the Aisle of Pain, it was only to discover that there was in fact no road, only loosely packed gravel in every direction.
We endured a mile of this, with the ever present nine thousand mile-per-hour crosswinds, only to turn back into the headwinds when the tarmac finally reappeared. In the midst of this, at approximately mile eighty-two, my shoulder decided that it had had enough of this nonsense and would no longer be participating in the ride. However, the rest of me, having a bit over thirty miles yet to go, pressed on. The shoulder continued its loud and painful rebellion for a few miles, until finally it lapsed into sullen numbness. Other than the detour caused by the aforementioned bridge, we were able to continue on towards our destination.
Dad, Melissa and I (and the shoulder, contrary to its wishes) arrived at Valparaiso University more than two hours later than planned, Melissa having unaccountably stayed with us through all of this silliness, and we were met by her longsuffering husband John who gathered her up to drive her home to Lafayette.
It was a rough day, hopefully one of the hardest on the trip. There were a lot of points where quitting sure seemed like a pleasant option, but we made it. We didn't fall behind on the schedule, and we arrived in time to see this rather encouraging sunset behind the chapel.
Thanks for reading,
PS - Yellow Car now stands at 25-19, with Dad enjoying a nice lead. I still have a +2 tiebreaker advantage, however, and expect good things tomorrow!