117 miles and a relatively flat 2,000' of climbing today. The whole crowd was relaxed today, more relaxed than I've experienced us since Day 10 riding from Vernal, UT-->Rangely, CO. Rangely was the day we had but 53 miles. Since we'd arrived so early, the whole group lunched in the grass at the city park waiting for our rooms to be readied. That turned out to be a significant day for bonding. It was still early enough in the ride that whole-group bonding could still occur. The gap between the fast group and the slow group is great enough that after ride socializing tends to happen among members of the fast and slow group. But having had the Rangely day, with an added visit to the local Espresso bar (the last time we've seen the likes of such on the whole tour), pleasantly narrowed the social gap. Wouldn't it have been nice if it could have narrowed the riding gap as well?
That the route was relatively flat today also kept the group physically closer together. The day called for RAIN and that it did. Lost count of how many days, now, we've contended with the evil wet stuff. We all smell like mildew and our duffle bags smell even worse.
We're all definitely into the bittersweet place of being quite ready for this to be over, and yet the simplicity of our lives (no responsibility but to ride, wearing the same one outfit day after day), and the friendships made are sad to see come to an end tomorrow.
I can tell you one thing for sure: I will be quite pleased to experience restaurants other than fast foods found on Interstate exchanges.
Tomorrow will be sort of like the Parade Lap. An easy 58 miles to lunch and then another 25 or so to a rendezvous spot where we will wait till all the riders arrive. Then, the whole group will ride in together through Tybee Island; we'll ride through the hotel parking lot, over the boardwalk and out onto the beach of the Atlantic Ocean. Woo Hoo: 3,484 miles, 30 days, and 124,100' of climbing.
We all knew we would make it, but what it would take to make it remained an unanswered question until tonight. Yet, accidents can happen so fast, we are all committed to being hypervigilant tomorrow, taking nothing for granted.
Oh, the good news is that Melissa, who fell so hard on her hip about a week ago, has ridden the last two days. Woo Hoo for her. She is one tough rider.
Melissa (from AU) and me at the first rest stop on our way to Rangely, CO on Day 10.