Monday, March 14, 2011
Rob Welsh is a matchmaker. He is also the Regional Brevet Administrator (RBA) for the Twin Cities Randonneuring Club and a veteran of PAC Tour’s Elite Transcontinental 2010 Ride.
Rob Welsh is responsible for introducing me to Michelle Williams, the RBA for the Jackson, MS Randonneuring Club, a veteran of PAC Tour’s 2010 Northern Transcontinental, and will be my riding partner in our August, 2011 Circle Tour of Lake Michigan.
But the weekend of February 26th my Lightning P-38, Fern’s her name, and I flew to Jackson, MS and then Michelle and I drove to New Orleans for the Crescent City Randonneur’s 300k (minimum of 186 miles). No way I’d get a 300k in Chicago in February, that’s for sure.
Of course when you’re in a new place you notice everything that has become so ho-hum to the locals, so ho-hum that sometimes they don’t even notice it at all. My forever memory of New Orleans will be the Mississippi River. Sounds funny coming from an Illinoian whose entire state is boundaried by the very same river. But MY Mississippi, the places where I’ve crossed it all my adult life, is just a little bit bigger version of the Fox or Illinois, or Des Plaines or Chicago--nothing special except for the lore of Tom and Huck. But in New Orleans there are barges, and tugs, and container ports, and evidence of round the clock world wide shipping efforts that made me think I was on a cruise ship coming in to Port. And in the black of night the banks both north and south sparkled in phosphorescence as the heart work of the River beat on and on.
And of course there were those French names like Lake Pontchatrain and Ponchatoula, and water everywhere--canals, and estuaries, and swamps, and bayous--and still the stories of Hurricane Katrina, August 29, 2005 are told as if they were just yesterday.
This was a most special 300 for me because all seven of us were on recumbents: 2 Carbon Bacchettas, 3 Ti Aero Bacchettas, 1 Lightning P-38, and 1 Tour Easy. Not very often am I a member of the majority, but that’s a way-good feeling.
So Michelle and I are riding along somewhere about mile 150 and she asked me what my all-time favorite ride was. I do believe this ride, this 300k was my all-time favorite one-day ride; it had the makings of all kinds of goodness:
all bent riders
good fellowship--all of us rode together for the entire 192 miles
perfect weather--mid 70’s
no body issues
no routing issues
and a decent time--just over 14 hours including the 3 hours off the bike!!
But that got me thinking about all the other now 100,000 miles I’ve ridden in the last 10 years and what do I remember of those?
My list is long and sweet: distances and climbs I thought impossible; PAC Tour for showing me the how-to’s of multi-day, long distance biking; the goodness of so many people along the roads who have lent a helping hand--a lift in a front loader, or pick-up truck, the unwavering support of my husband, dear friends, and adult children who have celebrated my victories, sat my by bedside in hospitals after a bad day on the bike, who let me cry the tears of disappointment when I fell short of my expectations of myself, and who had the wisdom to know that to try to curtail my yearning for the road less traveled would be tantamount to sucking the very marrow from my soul.
Thanks to all of you.