Today is the last day of our ride. It’s hard to believe. It feels like we just started and yet I somehow have trouble relating to my life outside this journey, as if I’ve been doing this so long that I can’t clearly remember what was before.
In truth, we’re about to ride into our seventh state in as many days. I’m tired, sore, and my bike is broken. Part of me is ready for this to be over but a greater part wants to keep riding. Beyond today, beyond tomorrow, to keep riding with this group of friends whom I’ve just met and yet know intimately. We’ve ridden, we’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve sweat, we’ve hurt, and we’ve healed.
This has been an incredible journey for me in many ways. I haven’t yet seemed to process some part of it and its meaning in my life. There is a significance beyond words, beyond pictures and posts, beyond the miles and the days, perhaps even beyond the names we read when we stop and that we carry around our necks.
But for this moment, the sun has risen and the sky has ceased it’s rain. We have many miles to go before we’re done, so…we ride.
Yesterday’s clouds still hang ominously in the sky but the rain at least has stopped and the roads are starting to dry with the morning sun. Unable to find a better solution to my broken derailleur, I attempt a field repair with a zip tie holding my cage together. This works surprisingly well and restores almost full stiffness to the chain box.
With the previous day’s ride cut short due to weather, we were eager to get going.
Once on the road we are met with rolling hills and long, straight stretches of smooth rural blacktop. This is what we love. Comfortably in the rhythm after days of cycling, we pound out the miles and soak in the scenery.
Mid-morning we arrive in Princeton, NJ and are hosted by Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad. Their station is only a few block from Westminster Choir College where my sister went to school.
Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad members Frank Setincki, Catherine Miceli, and Nick Malcolm offer their warm hospitality and support as we pass through.
Judging by the dark clouds overhead and the way the wind is lifting the station’s flag, yesterday’s storms are not over.
Adding to that the National Weather Service warnings for severe thunderstorms and flash flooding decide that, unfortunately, today will be another bike and drive combination.
Our mid-day stop was at Second Alarmer’s Rescue Squad, with which several of our riders have an affiliation. A quick unloading and reloading of the truck allowed us to retrieve additional rain gear for our final leg into Collingdale.
Staging just outside of town, we fall into formation for our final ride.
With one final pedal stroke and dismount, our journey is over. A bittersweet end to an amazing experience.
I don’t know what the future will hold, but after this week, I doubt this will be the last time I join a group of friends and comrades, bound with a common purpose, undertaking such a noble journey.
Until then, to all of you who shared this adventure in all of the ways, we ride on.