Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Days Slipping By
And already Day 6 has come and gone. Just like that we rode from Yorktown to Blacksburg, covering around 358 miles. Day 1 was tough because of the emotions--Mom not being here, Mom suffering the way she did because of the MS, missing Mom. Day 2 was better, but by mile 70, I was tired from not having slept well for four nights, from all the adrenaline the few days leading up to June 1, and from beginning to miss my boys. Day 3 was the ride into Charlottesville. This day was good. I felt better emotionally, but when we reached the clinic where we were given a reception and a tour of the clinic, the sadness over Mom welled up again when I saw several individuals in wheelchairs, all suffering from MS. As I listened to their stories, I knew the ride is exactly what I need to be doing, but boy is it tough at times. Day 4 was the day we all were dreading: The Climb. We had 60 miles to ride, most of it up, up, up. The climb into Afton called for digging deep. Like 150 feet into the well deep. I've never climbed a hill like the one into Afton. As if that wasn't enough, we then began our ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway. More up. This time, at least what I was told, the climb was a Category 2 hill. Not long after leaving the rest stop, we began climbing again, a Category 3 hill. At one point during Day 3, on a nice, easy downhill, I had a moment of clarity like I've never had before. My bike and I were one at that moment. I truly felt like Sweetness was taking care of me. From that moment right through today, I have a different kind of respect for my bike. Day 4 I accomplished something that will forever be a single amazing feat. I showed myself just how much grit I have. Day 5, yesterday, was pure bliss. Rolling hills through beautiful countryside made for a great recovery day. Most of us were euphoric the entire day. Most likely a side effect from having worked so darn hard the day before. And today, Day 6, we again were tested. Last night the rain moved in and stayed. We started out under dark gray clouds, and all the hoping in the world wasn't going to keep the rain from falling. About 5 miles in big drops began spattering against my handlebar bag cover. Then a steady shower. Then heavier showers. I had to take off my sunglasses since I could no longer see, and for the next 15 miles, I slogged through until our rest stop. While there, the rains eased, and the last 20 miles were dry. While the rains had let up, the climbs hadn't. The last two miles into Blacksburg again required me digging deep to find the will to propel the bike forward. The first mile was about a 4% grade. The last mile involved places of 12% grade. I thought about Mom's last two weeks with us, how she suffered and slipped away, and to honor her, I put my head down, started humming Amazing Grace, and found that strength she always told me I have.