Saturday, February 13, 2010

Five Months in Five Hours

Today, it has been exactly five months since I first rode out of Seattle. Today, I flew out of Memphis, TN back to Seattle (for the Olympics, I haven't given in yet). The flight, with a transfer in Phoenix, followed the route I'd ridden about as closely as a plane can. I was in the air for five hours, that's one hour in the air for each month on the ground. Crazy!

Although I hadn't anticipated this extra flight and time off the road, I'm SOOO excited about it. Riding the last miles out of Arkansas, across the Mississippi River and into Tennessee, I was all smiles and giddiness. Following my sister's blog, which she's doing an amazing job keeping up, and now with all of the press and such for the Olympics I know it's going to be an unreal experience.

The last few days of riding across Arkansas were cold (high 30's at best), extremely flat, and nothing exciting. I spent an extra day with Felicia at the Heifer Ranch to stay out of the cold one more day; then I booked the last 200 miles to Memphis. The forecasts worried me, but turned out to be just fine. The worst day forecast was for snow when I rode into Memphis, fortunately the sun even graced my arrival as I crossed the boarder!

When I stopped in Forrest City, AR to warm up and eat a bite at a gas station I talked awhile with two delivery guys. One told me I must be "hardheaded and stubborn," I couldn't disagree with him. He said that if I were his daughter he'd of chained me to the house; I'm glad I wasn't his daughter (he was kind of joking). Mom and Dad, thanks for your support. I often get the question, "What do your parents think of your trip?" It's nice to be able to say that although they may worry at times, they're excited about my adventure and supportive of my choices.

This was the worst the roads got, had to ride through a bit of slush in places, but I'd feared much worse.

Eastern Arkansas is terribly flat, this was pretty much my view for 150 or so miles. Good for making time at least.

Yay, finally crossing the Mississippi!

Once in Memphis, I spent a little time wandering around downtown to see a few sights. In the evening, I met up with Dan, my warmshowers host who is graciously storing my bike and gear while I'm gone. A little while back I'd started to think it might be fun to lead cycle tours in the future. Dan has lead many trips through Adventure Cycling Association, so I bombarded him with questions that evening as his basset hounds fought for my full attention. After a quick cleaning and drying out of gear, I packed it all up ready to leave it behind for a bit. I'll admit, with this weather, I wasn't too sad about leaving.

All about their music here, tons of history.

Yup, definitely in Memphis.

The motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. It looks exactly like all of the pictures. Now it holds the National Civil Rights Museum. I didn't have time to go in then but really hope to once I return; I've heard it's well worth it.

The farther east I ride, the more incredulous people seem when they ask me how far and long I've been riding. I've now made it 6,400 miles. Maybe I've just become jaded by most folks reactions, but whatever I've accomplished doesn't seem to warrant their responses; I don't think I'm doing anything that crazy, difficult, or unique. I've met plenty of others who have gone far beyond me either in cycling or other realms I would never dream of setting foot in. Maybe I'm so unfazed because I myself cannot comprehend the distance; it' s hard to put all the days together, to fill in the puzzle. It's only when I glance at a map of the entire US that it sinks in at all, but mostly I still just look at what I have left to ride. Maybe it's because while some people may view this as a big adventure, trip, or vacation, to me it's just become life. I hate to say it's routine because that was one thing I was trying to escape from, but in a way riding each day has become routine. However, if life requires some sort of routine, I'll take this type over most anything else.

Once I get back to my bike it'll take me another month or so to get to Florida's Atlantic coast, my half way point. I wonder if it will all sink in then. Now I'm still riding away from the northwest, from that point on I'll be riding back. I've now given up my only excuse for not doing my whole loop; I'm not going back to the Forest Service this summer. As hard as a decision that was, knowing I'm leaving behind a place, job, and people that have come to mean so much to me, I know I'd always regret it if I left this trip unfinished (there's my hard-hardheadedness for you). I set out to do a loop and although I foresee Canada as a challenge much bigger then I've yet come across, I'm committed to crossing the country. If anyone is looking for an adventure, I'd love some company now and then this spring/summer!

Five Month Inventory:

Miles: 6405.7
Flats: 29
Tubes: 12
Tires: 4
Jars of PB: 20
Nights under a roof: 51 (wow that went up!)
States: 10
Nat'l Parks: 21
WS/CS Hosts: 9
Bike-free days: 25
Rain: 21
Riding in Rain: 10

Headed up to Vancouver/Whistler in the morning! Go Holly! Go USA!

1 comment:

  1. Tracy still worries about your safety. We are thankful for your stop in Ennis.