we biked for days & days

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i’m sitting in ray’s uncle’s house in washington DC right now. we did it, we fucking did it, can you believe it? 320 dusty, sweaty miles on our loaded-down bikes. i had a couple of strikes against me: couldn’t afford fancy panniers, so i used my nearly-10-pound rear baskets (someone i met on the trail referred to it as my “shopping cart”, which is a fairly accurate description) to load all my shit instead. because of these baskets and their awesome carrying capacity, i got saddled with carrying all the water for both me AND ray, by far the heaviest thing on the trip. and, oh, did i mention my bike was stuck in 3rd gear (the biggest/hardest chainring) so i was in 3rd gear the whole motherfucking way?
more than one person, bike mechanics and friends alike, expressed doubt that i’d be able to complete this mission at all. but bikey and i showed them, and the weird thing is, it wasn’t even really that hard. physically, anyway. emotionally i hit some rough ground about halfway through the trip, but i’m okay now i guess. the scenery was beautiful, and our first few nights sleeping in a tent we were feeling so alive and so free that we never wanted it to be over.
but eventually the miles & the heat & the endless shouting over the crunch of gravel, the repetitive misunderstandings, the crappy food and the inconvenience of tent life kinda got to me. now in my memory it’s all a big blur, like one extremely long intense day. i am still sorting it out.
am i different? i don’t know. i expected to be. my thighs feel a lot more muscular, but i don’t really look any different, i don’t feel any different. there’s no fanfare at the end of the trail–it just stops–and ray & i didn’t have the dramatic entrance into washington dc that we envisioned. not even a “welcome to washington” sign or a milepost 0, for fuck’s sake! instead we were thrust into a yuppie shopping district packed with people, after spending a week pretty much by ourselves. it was mega-overwhelming. we rode by the washington monument but were too busy arguing about the most efficient way to get to ray’s uncle’s house to really look at it and think, wow, we’re here.
ray’s parents, who live about an hour away, surprised us with their presence. his whole family is so genuinely nice, so unabashed in their love of each other, and they include me in that too, which is always so nice but a little sad because it’s not at all the experience i have with my own family. so i was happy to see them but also sad because i didn’t want to talk anymore, i just wanted to eat and go to bed. but everyone else was low-energy too, and understanding of my sullenness. and after riding over 50 miles that day in a frenzy it was so nice to sleep on a real bed, in a house, with a toilet and a pillow. the things i didn’t know i had.
we’re going to philly tomorrow! the nude beach at cherry grove with one of my old-school BFF’s on thursday! hopefully home by friday night! and on monday, i start my new job (which i found out that i got via voicemail in the middle of the woods in maryland, long after i’d given up all hope…but that’s another story)!

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