Saturday, April 13

Man, it’s hot. Only got 60 of the 68 miles planned in, and it took much longer than expected. I fear I’ve bitten off more than I could chew, not planning for the heat. I finished the last 8 miles in the wee hours of Sunday when it had cooled down, but the plan will have to change to ride most of them in the dark if I’m going to finish the race against the sun.

349 miles to go.

Friday, April 12, 2019 Chiefland to Nobleton

We were up with bells on at 3:30AM.

I rode in the dark for 2 1/2 hours with Randy following close behind me, and it was a cool 64 degrees most of that.

At one point there was a river we were crossing and that time of day river means mist. Randy’s headlights cast very tall shadows into the mist of a cyclist. But because there are two headlights, each casts a separate shadow. I believe I will be forgiven for believing for a minute that I am riding with a friend, since all evidence suggests that is the case. I could see their shadow!

A mostly uneventful ride. It took a lot longer than I had hoped, but speed isn’t the actual goal, it’s finishing, so it gets to be okay.

Several miles of trail as I go through central Florida, though. It makes for a shady and more relaxed ride, for sure.

April 11, 2019

We landed in Atlanta late last night. It was 74 degrees at 10:45. It became quickly evident that heat is going to be the biggest challenge of this leg.

We drove to Dawn’s house in Leesburg and got a few hours of sleep. Left their house this morning just after 9 AM.

Grabbed the groceries from Walmart in Perry, Florida and headed to the airbnb for early check in. 87 degrees outside. Way too hot to ride and make any real progress, and we were both still pretty tired, so we took a nap and woke up just before 4:30.

Changed clothes and were back in the car heading back to Tennille. 87 degrees still, but shade is actually kind of pleasant.

We got to Tennille at 5:30 and unloaded the bike and everything i needed, and I was on by 5:40. Sunset in Florida was at 7:48, and I estimated I’d be 3 hours and 12 minutes based on two mph faster than my average, since it is quite flat. So I would be an hour in the dark, regardless, but I’ve been challenging myself to beat the estimated time, so I set under three hours as the goal.

Lots of animals on the side of the road and the trail today. Lizards, turtles, rabbits, squirrels, a fox, and hundreds of birds.

At Cross City I grabbed more water and got onto a trail that was beautiful. Covered by trees and apart from the road, I could pick up some speed confidently and wasn’t getting too hot.

With 12 miles left I was projected to finish at 2 hours 52 minutes, and I was thrilled, but I was still going to be riding in the dark for 48 minutes. I said a quick prayer that I’d be able to see well enough or that I’d know when to make my way to the road and have Randy follow me.

Back up a bit – before I ride each day I pray that I’ll be safe, that I will be up the challenge of the day, and that sometime during the ride I will know that I’m being watched over by loved ones who have passed on.

Three miles later the sun was down and I started to get more than a little nervous. My eyes hadn’t adjusted to the waning light, and my headlight wasn’t strong enough to get past 15 – 20 feet out.

Then the miracle occurred. Okay. Miracle may be just a hair of a stretch. But it felt like a miracle.

In Utah and most of the west we don’t have fireflies. I often forget they exist. But as it got darker and I got more nervous,  the Florida landscape began to flash. Not “real” light – I couldn’t see better because of it, but the tiny insects are eating the plants on the side of the trail, and because of the million flashes on the side of the trail, I could keep riding into the darkness. Now please don’t judge my music – I have a pretty diverse selection on these playlists. But I was riding along with the beautiful flashes of light and the Lady Gaga song, “Applause” came on, and suddenly the flashing lights were paparazzi in my head, each an adoring fan from beyond the grave shouting out cheers and taking photos.

I know it’s just nature. I know it’s just bugs. But for a moment I felt like my friends in heaven got to send me a message – we’re all watching and cheering you on.

510 miles to go.

 

Today’s the day!

683 days ago I took this photo.  Someday

Tomorrow I start the last 560 miles.

To say that everything has changed is not quite accurate.  The only constant thing this whole journey has been the bicycle.  In ten days I will take another photo that perhaps to a certain extent will mirror this one.  But believe me when I say, everything has changed.

I am better and stronger.

I have changed industries in which I work.

The indiscriminate hand of death has taken several friends and more than one of my friend’s parents or other loved ones.

I have moved and made more friends.

I saw a psychologist about my severe anxiety, depression, and PTSD, and have learned how to manage the triggers and attacks such that I rarely have panic attacks anymore.

The next 559 miles probably won’t change me much. I think I will have Dawn take a picture at the 559th mile and see if I can see how much change happens in that last mile.

Ultimately, though, the picture above is the change.  The moment you start down the road that terrifies, challenges, and thrills you all at the same time is the moment you change, and not the last.  I have become the person who “does this”; the person who can. Today is the day I leave to complete the destiny I began 683 days ago, galvanizing the change.

Someday and The Power of Moments

Tomorrow we fly out.  My memories of the past almost two years are seared deep into my mind, and it feels like forever ago that we started this odyssey, which brings to mind a book I listened to called, “The Power of Moments”  by Chip and Dan Heath.  (I highly recommend this book, by the way – it’s on Audible)

The Heath brothers captured for me the “magic” of making time move slower.  Make more “moments”.  If you think about it, when you’re young time moves super slowly.  Every day is an event, a learning experience, a milestone.  You looked forward to every new event, every experience, every birthday, holiday, or thing you learned, and demonstrating your progress as you grew.  Think back to your last “super memory”.  Something that will be burned into your memory For. EVER.

What if I told you that the more of those you pack into your life – and the more you make other’s events memorable for you – even the small things, the slower time will move?

If you really think about it, most of us stop making “our own” memories shortly after we have children, if we have them.  We make our children’s memories important.  We remember when they walked and talked; we go to their baseball games, concerts and recitals; they have birthday parties  and dress up for Halloween, and graduations and weddings.  We make our beds and do our laundry and vacuum the floor.  We go to work and do our jobs.  We wash the dishes.  We get our hair cut.  We shave.  We mow the lawn.  We shovel the walks.  We commute.  We can do all of that almost without thinking. We go year after year after year creating one, maybe two memories a year for ourselves.

Time flies because there is so much time spent in our routine that we don’t remember what we ate for dinner last night, we don’t remember the last truly fun thing we did – or if we do, it was so long ago that when we realize that it was the last thing we did that was fun, it’s actually last year or 5 years ago or 10.

So what do you do?

Start by paying attention to your “Someday” list.  I harp on Someday a lot, I know.  But I truly mean it.  Are you going to do it, or are you just going to talk about it?  Because if the memory at the end of your life is how much you talked about it, that’s what I call regret.  What’s stopping you from doing it today?  What’s stopping you from making a plan to begin working on it today?  The memories I have made even in the planning of this event have shaped not only my ability to accomplish it, but the direction my life will be going forward.

Work at making moments for others as well, throughout your journey.  Attend the play you know they’ve been working on.  Bring them flowers on a day you know they least anticipate it.  Send a card, a letter, an emoji text, a Facebook post on their wall not on their birthday.  Smile at a stranger in the grocery store. Talk to people, and genuinely listen when they talk back. Be kind. You making a moment for them out of something that may be their routine makes it memorable, and it will endear you to them forever, even if they never know or ask your name.  And it will make your moments last longer.

And yes, show up 100% when your big dreams beckon you, saying, “Someday is today, my love. Let’s ride.”  Put in the work.  All of it. Ride like your hair is on fire, and enjoy every minute you can. You’ll never forget that moment – even if the moment took two years to complete – that you and your dream meet at the finish line.  I suspect my dream will hang out with me for the day, and then like so many of my friends have already done, as soon as we get home ask, “What’s next?”

By the numbers

Ordered some groceries not available in stores to be delivered to the Walmart close to where we will be starting this morning.  I was more nervous about this whole thing yesterday than I am right now, which is odd for me.

Two weeks from this morning I will have 17 miles left to ride on Saturday, the 20th.  All told when I complete this, I will have come 3,800 miles in 693 days (62 riding days) (roughly the distance from Lisbon, Portugal to Murmansk, Russia through Austria). I will have climbed 102,264 feet cumulatively, which is the equivalent of Everest 3.5 times.  Between training and on route miles I will have ridden a bicycle 12,804 miles – 51.4% of the circumference of the earth (lol – 459 miles shy of the full circumference of Mars!) I estimate that I get approximately 100 miles per gallon of water I drink, and I will have gone through five sets of tires, three pairs of cycling shoes, three chains, three pairs of sunglasses, countless hydration tablets, seven bottles of sunscreen, 35 pounds of epsom salts and 12 tubes of chamois butter.

Totally worth all of it.

Before this last stretch I need to let y’all know that I’m no better than any of you.  I put my mind to what I wanted to do, worked out a plan, and set out to do it.  Was it a big deal?  Um, YEAH! But whittle it away and you, too, can do whatever you want.

Don’t wait for Someday.  Don’t wait until you’re ready.  Do it.  Today.

Six Days out

We fly out in six days.  I’m on the bike in seven.  I woke Randy up in the middle of the night last night and told him we forgot the bike at my grandma’s house (both my grandmothers have been deceased for 10+ years).  Since I was a very little girl I have had poor sleep patterns/habits – doubly so as exciting things approached like birthdays, Christmas, or field trips, (any trips, really). This is no exception, and as much as I try to remind myself that I am still several days out, I’m running over lists in my head of things to remember to bring, what things are going to look like, and what I’m trying to finish at work and home before leaving.

The miles left are not nothing, but when I broke down the numbers it is substantially fewer miles per day than I did the past two rides on most of the days.

Day One – 39 (getting a late start as we are driving in from Atlanta)

Day Two – 73

Day Three – 88

Day Four – 80

Day Five – 66

Day Six – 57

Day Seven – 60

Day Eight – 59

Day Nine – 17 (almost a victory lap, and I wanted to finish early and “fresh”)

We plan to start dark and early in the mornings to finish around 10 AM local time as the temp heats up.

 

Gearing up

In 8 days we’re on a plane to Georgia, where we will pick up the bicycle from my dear friend, Dawn who graciously stored it for me.

I’m wrapping up the work that needs to be done at my job before I’m gone for 7 work days.

I’m making my list and checking it twice – or thrice.  Or the ninth or tenth time.  I’ve lost count.

My mom is flying in.

Dawn, her fiance’ Freddy, Danise and Rodney (all friends from Georgia) are driving down on Friday to watch the final miles on Saturday morning.

This is getting real, my friends.

The countdown from 560 miles starts in roughly 216 hours.  I’m ready. Bring it on.