It’s been a week since the epic ride, but I’m still riding out the wave that this journey has created. From supportive Facebook messages from strangers to warm (and loud) congratulations from my school superintendent, I’ve broken something of a personal record in terms of backslaps and hearty commendations. I’m really glad to be home, and every day I wake up thankful that I get to wake up (at an ungodly hour, but still...) and go to school -- and it doesn’t even matter if there’s a 15 mph wind coming out of the northwest! My body is grateful as well -- but it’s either exacting vengeance for its trials and tribulations or preparing itself for further abuse because I’ve been eating everything that isn’t nailed down. Nothing can satisfy my hunger. It’s getting ridiculous and I expect to be whale-sized within the month.
Anyway, besides the joys of not biking a hundred miles a day, I’ve been so surprised and delighted with how closely my classmates at school have been keeping up with my journey. I thought most of them didn’t know, but apparently everyone does! The warm welcomes and encouragement of these classmates is bound to make my senior year a good one. I did have to start school just a day after we got home, but in a way that was a good thing. I would have gotten into a fantastic rhythm of babying myself including more of my mother’s wonderful cooking than I have any right to and 16 hours of sleep per 24 hour cycle.
After the ride, I took two full rest days and touched my bike for the first time this Thursday on our CIBA group ride. Let me tell you that removing our 25 pounds of gear was amazing and I was reminded how nice it is to not have a twenty-five pound artificial butt. I wonder if I’m actually beginning to like hills now that it doesn’t take a thousand years for me to climb them! It was wonderful to see the riders that have supported me not just through the epic ride itself but also through the long and arduous training process. Of course, their Summer training brought them from a 15 mph average to an 18 mph average and mine brought me from like 12 mph to 15 or 16 mph, but hey they still ride my pace on Thursday nights so it works!
The Sherpa and I have tried to keep up with the news stories, and hopefully in a few days we’ll be able to post a nice list of links to the news stories covering our journey. We were very lucky to get the amount of coverage we did, and we’d love for you to check it out if you haven’t already! (Of course, for those of you who are Facebook friends with me or anyone I am related to, it’s quite possible that you’ve seen a couple of these links posted and reposted because hey, we got excited, but if you’d like to watch again you’ll have the opportunity!)
I’m actually still excited. My mom told me that after she’d finished her first century on her bike, she smiled for a week. I’m rather like that. I’d like to once again thank all of you for the ways you reached out and supported me. I feel like I’ve learned a lot about doing hard stuff and pressing on, and I find it so much easier for me to be grateful for things and people. I bet there’s a direct correlation between sitting on your bike all day for a week and thinking that it’s such a huge privilege to just sit and pet your dog. Of course I could be wrong and it’s always a huge privilege to pet your dog -- or at least it is when your dog is the beautiful and glorious Lord Wrigley who strikes terror into the hearts of his enemies with but a glance.
But I am truly grateful for this experience and everything it has done for me. I think I’ve learned that for me, gratitude is the single best motivator. As a young candlemaker from an intellectual family, I’ve been full of ambitions from day one -- but that’ll only get me so far. In the heat of day six on the road, I learned that much. It’s the fact that I’ve been given a dad who will hop on his bike and morph into The Sherpa because I had a dream, and the fact that I’ve been given a mom and grandparents who will stalk my phone with abandon at ten, eleven o’clock at night, wanting to know if I’ve made it in for the night, and the fact that my not-so-little town of Franklin got excited and helped spread the word that made me want to keep going. And now, because of that, I get to hold this experience as my, “Yeah, I can do this,” for the rest of my life.
Thanks for reading,