Monday, August 3, 2009

The Home Stretch

Goodness, time has really slipped away from me here. I feel like just yesterday I was confidently poised on the far side of the Gold Gate Bridge waving goodbye to my parents and heading off into the unknown for what would become the greatest two months of my life. I've come a long way since then and I cant believe all of the lessons I have learned. Although I covered most of that in the last post. This trip is without a doubt one of the greatest moments of my life, hands down. I can only hope to build on the experience in the weeks and months after I get home.

That being said i still have two solid weeks left until arrival so you have to suffer through at least one more post from me. The southeastern leg of my trip has flown by. It seems like the west takes so much longer because we spend much more time in each state. However, since we left Texas the longest we have spent in one state is 3 days in Alabama, in contrast to the 9 we spent in Nevada. In an effort to conserve space i will do the updates by state as opposed to day.

The ride out of Texas was surreal for me because we had spent so much time in the state, and while it is my home and I loved every minute of the rides through it, the roads were also some of the worst we have encounter all trip. My wrists and elbows were very thankful for the comparatively smooth Louisiana asphalt. The Texas highway department's idea of cheap paving is throwing tar and gravel onto road base which is ok until the afternoon heat melts the tar and the car tires scrub away the surface layer of gravel leaving a surface that is miserable to be on riding a bike. I think I have lost most of the feeling in my right pointer finger and even my nice gel lined gloves didn't do much to save my hands from the abuse. Louisiana roads weren't a whole lot better but at least the 20yd patches between potholes and expansion joints gave my arms some relief. With the new state came our longest century ride of the whole trip which I swept for part of. The 120 mile long stretch of rolling hills between Shreveport and Monroe were a definite physical test but I managed to finish relatively well and for once actually a little bit of energy at the end of a long ride... not much.

In a blink of an eye we were already out of Louisiana though moving into the true "south" in Mississippi. The roads continually improved which again was very nice. However, we have been following a nice weather pattern that we picked up as we were crossing the Mississippi river into Vicksburg. Dark ominous storm clouds formed and we barely finished the ride before the rain hit. For the next several days we rode through the rain and enjoyed many long stretches of downpour. Luckily the thunder and lightning stayed away though so we finished every mile through the Magnolia State. Our second to last century ride of the trip from Jackson to Meridian was almost cancelled but we found a pocket of sunshine in the rain and all the teams finished the ride.

The weather gave up briefly on the ride to Livingston, Alabama, to Tuscaloosa after a pretty violent storm the night before, and we had an excellent arrival at the United Cerebral Palsy Foundation of Alabama where I made it onto the front page of a local newspaper. Follow this link: http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/article/20090731/NEWS/907309940 to see a great picture of me riding at the front of our double pace-line (Im the one on the left of the picture) at the arrival, as well as a brief interview in the article itself with the news reporter who met us there. After our brief break from the rain, the weather returned with a vengeance on our way into Birmingham where at times it was raining so hard that we could not see much in front of us and we would have been perhaps better suited with a pair of water skis. At points we thought we wouldn't finish the ride but we managed to press on through in the safest possible manner and finished the ride. It was possibly the most fun ride of the trip and cast my memory back to muddy football practices back when I was in highschool. As my team mate Dalton Goodier of TCU put it, "its the type of fun that only utter misery can bring." Thats right, it was so bad that it was great.

After a nice day off and water park visit in Birmingham, we hit the road again for another 120 mile century day into Carrolton, Georgia where my body literally quit on me and I somehow stumbled into lodging and collapsed on the bed at the hotel we stayed in for the night. My sore legs were thankful that it was only a 60 mile ride today into Atlanta where we spent the latter half of the day swarmed by mid morning traffic and angry commuters for a fun arrival at the Emory Autism Center. While at the time the ride was terrifying, in hindsight we were never really at risk thanks to the great team dynamic and the careful planning of our crew. Im going to miss all of the guys beyond reason when this summer ends in 12 short days.

From here on out our schedule is jam packed so I will attempt perhaps one more update but I cant make any promises, so thank you for all the wonderful support over the summer and i will make sure to post some pictures of our arrival in DC if I don't get a chance to post again.

-Wes

1 comment:

J Andersen said...

Great to hear this journey has gone so well. Best of luck on the last stretch.