Wow…what a long, strange, crazy, awesome, filling, tiring, painful, incredible adventure this has been.
Both of us have been asked about what was the best part of the trip. My answer was, with the exception of being away from my family for so long, everything. From Cooperstown to Shenandoah, Richmond to Lancaster and everywhere in between, I have been inspired and humbled every step of the way. It is hard to choose one favorite when you consider the placid waters of Lake Otsego, the grandeur of the Pine Creek trail, the breathtaking down hills and vistas of Skyline Drive or the magic of meeting a kind and generous stranger. It’s impossible to choose among those or the heaping milkshakes in Williamsport, dinner in Monrovia or the hugs from my kids after the first 2 weeks.
When we first left Annapolis 3 weeks ago I had little idea of what to expect but I knew it was the right thing to do. We rode nearly 1300 miles on our bicycle, spoke to anyone who would listen and have raised approximately $20,000 for the causes that we care about most. It was all worth it and would do it all over again. Don’t worry Beth, not literally!
And to answer a commonly asked question….yes, Beth and I are still talking to each other. In fact, completing this sojourn with our friendship fully intact was never the slightest of my concerns. She is a wonderful riding partner who is strong, considerate, self-reliant, swift and highly competent. A true low maintenance travelling companion who took everything this trip threw at her. And she did it with a smile. Through 20% inclines on muddy backcountry roads, rain, narrow shoulders and my corny jokes…she never complained once. This was a unique experience for us both and I feel beyond lucky to have had such a great partner in crime. Thank you Beth!
Of course none of this would have been possible without the support of our friends and the love (and patient tolerance!) of our families. Fran and I have been overwhelmed by the support of our community. Honestly, without them this could have been a disaster. As many of you know, both our families encountered significant challenges only weeks before we departed on July. With our 3 week absence it forced our significant others to lean more heavily on community than ever before. Meals were cooked, lawns were mowed, kids were cared for, rides were given to doctor appointments…the list goes on and on. For that support I am eternally grateful.
There are too many thank you’s to list here but hopefully this is a good start: to all the friends and family who gave their time, money and words of encouragement to make this dream a reality. To Steve Ruck at the Arnold Bike Doctor for giving us the right bikes for this journey. To bambeco for their continued financial and moral support from their home page to facebook. To Kim Coble and Pam Wilson for helping me nurture this idea as it evolved from infancy to completion. To all our new and old friends who opened the doors to their homes, cooked us magnificent meals and gave a warm and comfortable place to rest our heads. To my brother-in-law Dave and sister Kari who balance the heavy weight of caring for a young child with cancer and trying to lead an active and inspiring life, yet still had time to join us and support us on the toughest leg of the trip. To Jon Mueller who spent an entire week changing tires, lubing chains and singing his heart out. To Paul Willey and John Page Williams’ skiff armada for our boat ride across the bay and to Kate Wilson for driving us over the CBBT. And countless others who played a role in making this Ride a great success. Thank you all!
And mostly to Frances. You are one in a billion and this never could have been a success without you. Over the last 6 months I have been busy organizing logistics, gathering gear and thanking sponsors while you were behind the scenes keeping me afloat. Caring for the house, kids and the rest of our world in my absence was a tall order and you made it all work. You rock, I love you and I am so happy to be home with you.
A few more random observations:
-Cow poop is the most pleasant, or rather the least offensive when compared to chicken or pig
-People are kind and generous to strangers on bikes
-Leave later in the morning so you don’t get stuck behind a trash truck
-Eating is one of the greatest joys in life
-PA has more skunk road-kill than the other watershed states
-Not all roads going over mountains are paved
-We all benefit from clean water
-No 5 year old should have to suffer from cancer.
-The best part of leaving is coming home.
Sincerely and with much love,
p.s. We will be leaving our websites live for any of those last minute gifts. If you held out until now please don’t delay! Thanks for your support! Final tally to come….
Environmental education and advocacy programs of Chesapeake Bay Foundation-(John’s) www.cbf.org/watershedride or (Beth’s) www.cbf.org/bmcgeewatershedride
Children’s cancer treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital www.active.com/donate/johnwatershedride
Programs of the American Diabetes Association http://main.diabetes.org/goto/watershedridebmcgee
More to come…