Most of my summer has been spent cycling as I signed up to ride as self-contained for Bike the US for MS. While I didn't raise as much money as I had hoped, I did raise the $2000 that Bike the US for MS suggested. I can't thank my family and friends enough for their support and generosity. I know my $2100 isn't much, but it along with the donations raised by all the others cycling for Bike the US for MS adds up to nearly $300,000 this year. That money goes to research centers in Virginia, Ohio, and Washington, and it also goes to building ramps, renovating bathrooms, and making other home improvements to offer easier access for those living with MS. I'll never forget our service days during the 2012 ride--cleaning, mowing, washing windows, rearranging furniture, installing handholds, and sometimes just sitting and talking with the individual we were working for--and how thankful these individuals were that we gave a day of our ride to help. I know I walked away from those service days feeling like I was doing something purposeful. Though I don't have service days this summer, I still have that feeling of doing something purposeful each day I set out and ride. I know I'm riding to fulfill the generosity of my family and friends.
My favorite rides so far this summer have been the longer rides. I went to Paxton, a cute town still holding on to the small-town feel. I sat on the curb of Main Street, downing a sports drink and eating a candy bar before beginning the ride home, ending with 105 miles for the day. Then I went to Lincoln, a bit bigger than Paxton, and sat outside a gas station to eat a sandwich before moseying around the side streets a bit and finding the new Lincoln Museum. On my way out of Lincoln, I saw a sign telling me I was on the Route 66 Bike Route. I'd actually ridden it into Lincoln, but there'd been no signage to tell me this. I followed the same route back, ending the day with 102 miles. Then I went to Pekin, to the west, and found a beautiful bike trail that wound its way through the town. I also found the "World's Greatest Sundial" in Pekin and enjoyed spending a bit of time there before returning home, an 81 mile day. In each of these towns, I leave a Bike the US for MS calling card on a bulletin board (and I noticedwhen I returned to Gibson City last week that the one I'd left there had been taken--hopefully, whoever took it visited the Bike the US for MS website and made a donation). I have plans for other long rides over the next four weeks, and even what I'm calling an "EPIC!" ride, so still more cycling to come.
The only downside to the cycling this summer is riding alone. I invited everyone to ride with me, but no takers. I know I could ride with the women's group here in town, but they usually don't go as long as I like to go. Though I prefer to ride alone, every now and then it does get lonely. I have run into other cyclists while out, and usually we strike up conversations as we ride along, but I end up going one way and the other cyclist goes his way. At these times, I think of Eleanor Moseman, who cycled throughout Asia, and a comment she made: "[W]hat the long distance woman finds . . . is love for herself. Learning and reassuring herself . . . that she can survive and live as a solo entity, without a partner at her side to help her make decisions and keep her motivated." I have found cycling alone has made me realize how capable I truly am, and I am definitely more confident in myself, whatever I undertake. I'm not sure everyone appreciates my confidence, but I know my kids do, and that's what matters to me.
Oh, Summer, my Love,
Your warmth fills up my being,
spilling out as smiles.