Monday, May 3, 2010

The Final Hooray (April 29:Day 27--St Augustine, FL)

Picking up where I left off after receiving the surprise of my life, the final ride to the fire station was fairly uneventful.  Today, however, I rode at a very leisurely pace, savoring the last moments and miles.  Other than being buzzed by a crop duster several times, it was like any other ride of the trip, with the usual SAG stops and bathroom breaks.

By 10:30 AM, we were to all meet at a fire station, where a police escort would take us the final six miles. Two by two, we followed the wailing sheriff's car, uninterrupted by traffic and stop lights.  At that moment, we truly owned the road.

 Brian, one of our escorts (Karen Cooper's pic)

Lined up and waiting to go

Police escort in: final pace line (Pam Harrison's pic)

 The line in front of me

 Roberta, smiling to herself as we finish

As you read in "Surprise", a crowd of friends and family awaited us at the beach, to cheer us on as we picked up our bikes and walked to the Atlantic Ocean to dip our tires.  When I signed up for this trip, I never really imagined the impact this moment would have on me....between the surprise of my children being there and the enormity of what this moment represented, I was a blubbering mass of tears....I didn't even try to hide it.

Though the tour didn't officially end until after the banquet that evening, this was pretty much the completion. Members attentions shifted to family members present, (as should be) and getting ready to go home, which included preparing the bikes for shipment. Thank goodness Patrick was there to help me; it took two college degrees and then, some to figure out how this went together!

The bike is in the box, and ready to travel..

Everyone did gather one last time for the banquet.  Toasts were made, and poems were read. Roberta presented the group with a beer she and her husband, Tom, had brewed just for the ladies of the Southern Tier 2010 tour. It was quite good!

The only thing lacking from the banquet was the recognition of the ONLY person who rode the entire trip....Pam Harrison.  She rode every single mile, regardless of weather, road features, accident or sickness.  Congrats, Pam--it takes a special person with a strong drive and commitment to achieve this goal.  I am proud to have been able to ride with you!

Finally, it was time to leave the biking bubble, in which I had been immersed for the past two months.  Prepared for 're-entry', I clumsily applied the makeup I had purchased a few days earlier, and blew dried and curled my hair for the first time since March 4.  Soon, I was winging my way back to Dallas.  I have been told that re-adjusting to the 'real' world can be challenging....  All I can say is 'There is no place like home.'  It's good to be back, and it is good to have time to reflect on what I have accomplished and all the lessons I learned in the process.

This trip was made complete by being able to share it with all of you--thank you so much for all of your support.  Your comments and visits to my blog greatly encouraged me, and I appreciated each one. 

Now, dust off your bike and start riding!!



47 miles

Surprise! (April 29:Day 27--St Augustine, FL)

It was another beautiful day--Mike had her Methodists praying for us during our entire trip, and once again, they came through for us, prayers answered, producing another bicycle-perfect day for a last ride together. The final ride was short--40 miles to a fire station, where, a police escort took us the final six miles to the ocean in St Augustine. I must say, it was very cool riding to wailing sirens and flashing lights as all traffic  stopped to allow us unhindered passage. Two by two, like the animals on Noah's Ark, we headed towards the ocean, led by our most senior riders, Frankie, 71 and Barbara, 75. I knew we were close when the police escort cranked up the volume and frequency of the sirens, and I saw the first glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean, our final destination.  Unexpectedly, tears welled in my eyes; I had done it.  I had pedaled my bicycle across the country....I did it!

With sirens wailing continuously now, we rounded the corner, and were greeted by a crowd of family and friends cheering, waving signs and blowing horns. Many riders had friends and family waiting for them at the end, but, I, like several others, was an orphan today with no one to cheer as we pedaled our final few feet; time, distance and cost made it infeasible for them to come.  Despite my orphan status, I was happy for those who had family with whom to celebrate. Mine would have been here if they could, and were certainly present in spirit.

My attention was drawn to an especially loud, enthusiastic group right in front, waving signs that read;  "Mom--You're Done!!".... "Saddle Sore Tour 2010", "Mom, I bike you a lot".........

 "I wonder whose children those are", I thought as I rolled across, "they certainly are proud".....then I saw the dress one of the young women was wearing.  My first thought was, "My daughter has a dress just like that", followed quickly by a wave of recognition..."Oh my gosh, that IS Diana!!  Oh my gosh!!"  

By the time that realization hit, I was past them, trapped in the pace line and headed to the beach entry.  Upon arriving, I dismounted my bike, and as I turned around, tears flowing freely down my face, I saw Diana coming towards me, with Jenny, Michael and Patrick (Diana's boyfriend), carrying signs, blowing horns and grinning like Cheshire Cats!   I couldn't believe what I was seeing!!  My children, who are scattered across the country were here...from San Francisco, New Orleans, and St Louis!  I was in shock, humbled and touched by the enormity of the surprise; I was a mass of tears!!! They had planned and schemedfor nearly two months, drawing members of the tour into it, to pull off the surprise of the decade.  Susan and Bob were unable to be there, but were represented by  avatars on poster board!!  As I write this, I still can't believe, and find myself, once more, tearing up.

Riding coast to coast was an enormous accomplishment, one that I am just beginning to grasp. But to me. having my children save their money, plan the trip in secrecy and be there as I finished was an even bigger, more meaningful event, one that just can not be justified with mere words.  I would ride every single mile again just for made every saddle sore worth it!

My babies--Thank you--I love you!

Michael, Jenny, aka Secret Friend, Diana and Patrick

Hugging Diana

 Resting after a day of surprises