We spent the last two nights running around bars with firemen. We ran into guys from all over the world. All these men found different ways of paying tribute to our lost brothers. Some rode their bicycles, some rode motorcycles, some marched, others flew, we all found ways of paying our respects. We talked about 9/11. We talked about how we paid tribute. We talked about our brothers. We talked about our brothers that lost their lives. We talked about our brothers that we live with in the fire house. We talked about our brothers both good and bad. We talked about our job and our culture, our bugets and
our dying traditions. New York is where we hold our family reunion. We come here to remember why we do what we do. Fire fighting is a family run business.
It would be very easy to allow ambulance rides for profit to turn our business into a corporate run money maker. The current trend of EMS is to make money. Most hospitals, ambulance companys, and pharm companies are using their service personnel and the tradition they have built to promote their own personal gain. We must remain loyal to those we serve, the citizens of this great country.
As I sit on the plane and write, I am watching a show about tobacco companies selling cigarettes over seas. The tobacco company said, “Yes, we know it is a harmful product, if we don’t sell them someone else will.” Come on, really? My point is that we must stop just accepting things because the don’t affect us directly. We must stand up for what is right. Even when it is not popular.
We woke up early (4:45am) on Sept 11th to attend the FDNY Memorial Service on Riverside Dr. We showed up a little early. With time to spare, we went to breakfast with a fireman from the North Pole Fire Dept. While we were waiting for the ceremony to start, Andre and I were given the honor of participating in the presentation of the Ground Zero Flag ( http://www.thegroundzeroflag.org ). This was truly humbling. Hundreds of firemen from all over the world and we get the honor of holding this glorious flag that looked over the beautiful people that worked day and night to restore order to our battle scarred country.
The ceremony started with The Star Spangled Banner. We dropped to one knee with our half of the flag, while the other half stood erect. All the firemen were brought to attention. “Company,” a short pause, “ATTENTION.” Everyone snapped to attention with heels together, hands along the pants seam, and a peering stare that demands respect. This is that moment when firemen present their A-game. A moment when there is a job to do. Everything stops, and for a moment we are warriors paying respect to our dead. A loud voice yells, “PRESENT ARMS!” as everyone’s right hand snaps to the bill of their cover. The song begins, it sounded like it was being sung by angels. “PARADE REST,” a voice demands. All the firemens’ hands snap behind their backs and they are allowed to move their feet to a more comfortable position. They are allowed a moment to stand comfortable, but not to rest. An opening prayer is given by the FDNY Chaplin. And then the reading of the names begins. Firefighter Joseph Agnello, Ladder 118, Lieutenant Brian G. Ahearn, Engine 230, Firefighter Eric T Allen Squad 18. The names continue like the credits in a movie. There is a pause, the time is 09:59, a moment of silence, this is the time the first tower fell. Then the names continue and just keep going, you picture them, you compare them to people you know. You listen to their ranks and where they worked. Were they on a truck, an engine, a rescue? Was the next names in line going to be brothers or a father and son? There is a short pause in the reading, “thank God, it’s over,” I say to myself. Then another lists starts to be read, “Captain James M. Amato, Squad 1, Fireman Calixto Anaya, Jr. Engine 4, Fireman Joseph J. Angelini, Sr., Rescue 1, Fireman Joseph J Angelini, Jr., Ladder 4. “My God, a dad and son both killed,” I think.
The names stop. The time is 10:29, the time of the second tower collapse, another moment of silence. The names continue, Fireman Faustino Apostol Jr., Battalion 2, Fireman David G. Arce, Engine 33. We have an LAFD Engine 33, I know a bunch of guys that work there. The list continues, Fireman Louis Arena, Ladder 5, hell, I work at LAFD Ladder 5. The longer the list is read the more I realize that once again I am listening to my own mortality being read out loud in front of me. Fireman Carl F. Asaro Battalion 9. I look around and I am somehow comforted that if we do have to give all, it’s not in vane. Lieutenant Gregg Atlas, Engine 10. From where I am standing I can see my wife and her two sisters. I think about how they have signed up for this also. I am happy that they are here participating in this. It’s good to know your family is behind you when the time comes to go to work. Its good to know they understand what they are a part off. Nicole is a nurse in the hospital. We both know what we signed up for. We know that if something big happens in Los Angeles that we may not talk for days. We know that we are a part of something bigger. Fireman Gerald T. Atwood, Ladder 21, I just want the names to stop. Almost like if I can stop the names, that many Firemen won’t really have to die. They don’t stop, the names continue on, and on. The lady on the street in front of me must be related to a Fireman she is visibly crying in pain. There is a lady consoling her. Fireman Gerard Baptise, Ladder 9, “Damn, this is a lot of men .” Finally the names stop. I take a deep breath, are the names going to start again? There is silence for a moment and an Angel begins to sing Amazing Grace. I can not see her, yet I know she is an Angel, I can hear it in her voice. She sings it from her heart, from her soul. Then her voice begins to fade a little, then a crack, the Angel begins to weep. I hear men clearing their throats, trying to stop their noses from running, trying not to cry while standing tall. It’s no use, we have all been touched by this Angel. The Angel weeps until the crowd begins to thank her for her generosity with applause. Then she begins to sing with tears in her voice. Her song was unlike any I have ever heard. It was pure goodness cutting through me like a knife. I’m not sure what you believe in, this was undeniable, this was pure. We were in the presence of an Angel and she was singing for us. She opened the gates of heaven for us. For a brief moment we were allowed to look into the heavens, and then the Chaplin prayed. They presented a wreath as the Bag Pipes played. Voices from the past chanting through the sound of the pipes, the voices that say “Don’t Forget Me.” Taps played as a reminder of what we are willing to do for others. “Company, DISMISSED.” And just like that we were dismissed to return to our duty, our duty to serve. We turn and embrace the flag. We fold her up and replace her in her home. We pray she may rest in peace. We hope that she will never again see the things she has seen. We hope that her only job will be to make sure we honor what we have sworn to our fallen. “We Shall Never Forget!”
The next day we visited the Statue of Liberty. As I stood in front of her, my journey came full circle. It was finally complete. I had done my job. I finished my tribute to honor the men and women of the fire service, I paid my respects to the the 343 men that died at Ground Zero. And now I was standing in front of the symbol of Liberty. I was paying tribute to the one thing they all died to protect, our FREEDOM! God Bless your country, and God bless mine, The United States of America.
I have been given a chance to do something great. With your support, I did not fail. Now it is your turn. Do what is right and you will be taken care of, you will not fail. Times will get tough, you will get tired, you will want to quit, you won’t. We will be with you. Do that thing you have been afraid to try, that thing you know your supposed to do, it’s your personal legend. That voice in your head is trying to tell you something, listen.
So what did I learn in 47 days and 3500 miles. There is no such thing as a flat road. Every uphill has a downhill. Every downhill has an uphill. Don’t follow a suggested route unless that person has ridden it before you. Sometimes you have to ride in the rain. Friends and family matter. You don’t ever have to be alone, even when you are alone. You can fix anything. And the most important thing I learned was from my 6 year old brother in law Kyle, no matter how bad things get, KEEP PEDALING UNTIL YOU GET THERE! I’ll see you on the road. Life is short, Live it with Love.
Love your brother,
A special thank you to Virgin America Airlines. When they heard about my ride they thanked me on the PA, offered me an upgrade to first class, and everything was on the house, or should I say plane. Thank you everyone.
Thanks to my Brothers at LAFD Fire Station 80. As we landed at LAX, the pilot announced a special welcome home for me. My brothers from Fire Station 80 met our plane on the tarmac and escorted my plane to the gate. The guys met me at the gate to welcome me home. Fire Department tradition is alive and well today. Thanks Greg.
Please check in periodically for updates, photos,and video. I will be putting a video/photo montage together, and I will make it available in the near future. I will announce it here and on Facebook. Also watch for my adventure to Aconcagua.
The Final Mile
I chose to spend the last two nights in a hotel for several reasons. One, I wanted to start sorting out the final leg of my journey, logistically, mentally, and emotionally. Two, I wanted to have the opportunity to reflect on my journey alone. Three, I wanted to get to bed as early as possible. I knew I had a lot to do and that I needed to stay focused. I enjoy talking too much to stay at the fire station. I would never get anything done, besides I did not want to seem rude, working on all my own things while being a guest at the fire house.
This was going to be my final leg, 55 miles to go. Like I have said in the past, its the short rides that scare me, they’re the ones that seem to go wrong. This was worse, this was the final short ride. Maybe it is because of the way my life has gone so far. Maybe it is how many stories I have heard where some tragedy happens right before the completion of the trip. “We could see our destination in sight, “then it happened.” It is the “then it happened” I’m worried about.
The last few days have been a struggle. There has been an air of nervous anticipation running through my soul. I have been at this for so long now, I almost don’t know how to stop. I have been reflecting on our troops overseas and how they must feel. I have never been in the military and am not attempting in any way to say that I know how they feel. The opposite is true. I am saying that I can’t imagine how they feel. Their “bike ride” goes on for several years, not months. I am grateful that there is people who are willing to give their lives to protect our freedom. This bike ride is as much about Freedom is it is about Service. I have not talked a lot about the Armed Forces in my blog because I have no experience in this arena. I believe people should talk about their experiences, otherwise you should put your statement in the form of a question. I would gladly trade a lifetime of your advice for a day of your experience. It is with humble admiration that I salute you, even Firemen need heroes.
I start packing my gear for the last time, throwing out unneeded items , and dumping the last portions of nutrition into their appropriate containers. “I wont need this again,” I say to myself. It’s wet outside, but it’s not raining yet. I manage to push some weird hotel egg sausage things into my nervous stomach while I pack. I check the room several times in an attempt to not leave anything behind. This has become a ritual that I have not yet perfected. Look under the bed, next to the sink, next to the bed, wall plugs, all clear. Ok this is it, “let’s get this done,” I say to myself.
I head out into the chilly, wet morning. I can feel my soul’s desire to finish. I stock up at the gas station next door with water and candy. No one around me has any idea what I am doing, they have no idea that I am about to finish an epic journey. They need to get gas and get to work, they are probably running late or right on time, no time to talk to strangers. When people do ask they get a story. How often do I run through life ignoring things and people around me, how many great stories have I missed? I stopped to ask my friend Herbert what he was doing, in an instant a stranger became a great friend for life.
I turn on my iPod. I usually save the music until the second part of my ride, to push me over the crux of my ride. Today the entire ride is the crux (the hardest portion of the route), so I will begin with music. I head out to the highway. Nothing has changed, this is the same thing I have been doing now for 46 days. My body, mind, and spirit are tired. It takes about 20 miles for me to get warmed up everyday, so i’ll only have to go 30 more miles after that. I make 20 miles and decide to go to 30 before I take a little break. “Don’t stop too many times,” I tell myself. I make 30 miles and see a gas station. Candy and Mountain Dew are my reward for getting this far. “Don’t stay too long, get moving,” I tell myself. Resting at this point is a double edged sword. I remember when a break like this was well-earned and enjoyable, not today. Today, rest is my nemesis, I must keep going. “Focus man, look around you, this is it. You will never be here again.”
3.42 miles behind me so far today. No rain, things are looking good. Why does my rear tire feel funny? “Flat, already?” I think to myself. I pull over to fix it. “Come on, 3 miles and I already have a flat. Is this really how this day is going to go? I go through the normal daunting task of repairing my rear flat. Do you remember the tire with all the goofy modifications that takes forever to change? I pump up the tire and see water bubbles coming out the side. “What now?” I think. I carry 3 extra tubes with me. When I change a flat I keep the one with a hole in it just in case I run out of new tubes before I reach a bike shop to restock. If I have to, I can patch the tube and use it to get to the next bike shop. In this case, I must have mixed them up. I just installed a tube with a hole in it. “Ok, no big deal, you still have a tube that you patched last night.” I put a little air into the tube, it’s good. I install the tube onto the wheel. As I am reseating the tire over the tube, I pinch the tube and air comes rushing out. You have got to be kidding me! You idiot, you amateur, you rookie. AHHHHH, are you kidding me? Do I really have to “endure” this ride all the way to the end? I feel defeated, I just want someone to come pick me up. I want to quit. I am sick of this. Did you just say quit? Are you kidding me? Quit? Go ahead quit, just get on your phone and call someone to pick you up. Ride into New York in a car, that would be cool. Maybe whoever picks you up can bring a car seat and a pacifier. Oh poor baby, you have a flat tire, you poor thing. I’m sure the men on the pile at Ground Zero would feel bad for you. I am sure they would be real proud of you right now. Wallowing around in the mud feeling sorry for yourself. I am going to only say this once, so listen up. Stop your whining, fix your tire, and get your butt back on your bike, NOW! Ok, I have to patch this tire and get going. So I ride off with no more tubes. I come into a town that seems like it would have a bike shop. I find one with my GPS. I feel a sense of relief as I pull in to the shop. I talk to the girl behind the counter a little bit about my ride, probably stalling. Turns out, I am heading down the wrong route. I am on Highway 10, I need to be on Highway 46. Good thing I got a flat tire or I would have gone the wrong way. That would have cost me a lot more time than that flat tire.
Is that what that flat tire was all about? Was the universe simply directing me the right way? Was the flat tire simply an omen? Was I so caught up in myself that I almost missed the boat. Was my problem really a vessel taking me from Highway 10 to Highway 46? I believe it was. The universe knows what I need today, I just need to trust it, I need to listen to what it is saying.
“Focus!” I tell myself. I am way too out of focus and don’t even know it. Focus means everything is clear and not blurry. What I am really telling myself is, “tunnel vision, tunnel vision, don’t look around, keep your eye on the finish line.” Then it dawns on me that this is the “then everything went wrong” moment. This is why people get hurt at the end of a journey, they get summit fever. You are so caught up in the finish line, you can’t see the open man-hole in front of it. “Take a deep breath, you have plenty of time, relax.”
Humility comes hard for me. It seems that it is only after a good self beating, do I get a glimpse of it. I don’t mean the self spoken humility. I mean the true “I am a small part of a big thing” humility. For a moment I feel it. This is not about you. It is about them. The men that died, the men and women that do this everyday, the men and women over seas right now, the people at home that have been supporting you all along. This ride is about them. “Ride,” I tell myself, “just ride.”
A few days ago one of my moms said to me, “Your dad and your brother are with you.” I feel their presence when I see eagles soar above me. As I was riding, I heard a voice. It was similar to my own, but it was not mine. It was very distinct, it felt like my dad was standing behind me with his hand on my shoulder. My brother was standing on the other side. The voice said, “you got this.” As I crested one more hill, I felt like the world opened up. In the distance I could see New York. That beautiful skyline with all its scars and glory. I was close, 10 more miles to Fort Lee where I would meet Nicole ,Whitney, and Haylee.
I navigated the final few miles though the busy windy streets of New Jersey to the Econo Lodge. I pulled into the “dead hooker hotel,” and asked for my room. I called Nicole to get an ETA. In about 45 minutes, I would be reunited with my wife. I will be with family. We will finish this journey together. I was a nervous wreck. I was looking at the George Washington Bridge. It was the only thing standing between me and my goal. It would carry me across the river to New York City. I would no longer be alone. It seemed like an eternity before they arrived. Then it happened, they pulled into the hotel. I felt like I dropped a ton of bricks. I felt so relieved, we made it. I wanted to cry as I embraced Nicole. That little voice inside would not allow that. I was so happy. Nicole, Whitney, Haylee, and I talked for a few minutes while they stretched their legs. “Are we ready to finish this thing,” I asked. “Let’s do it,” they replied.
The George Washington bridge is really awesome. What an engineering feet. The girls walked along side me as I rode the final few feet. We stopped along the way to take pictures. The bridge cables change colors along the way with a small green sign welcoming you to New York. What a spectacular view! I just can’t believe that it is finally over. I can’t believe I am finally here. I tell my body it is over, you have completed your task. I feel like my body does not believe me. I have been focused on this moment for so long, I just can not accept it is over. Well then, for now I will just act as if. We made our way back to the roach motel. “Well you did it, you’re crazy. You just rode your bike from Los Angeles to New York. How do you feel?” they ask. “I’m not really sure yet,” I reply. I was really hungry and wanted to eat Thai food.
After eating Thai food, we returned home to the Crack House Inn. The girls asked housekeeping to please remove the black hairs from their bedding. We all agreed their sheets were used in some type of crime and they just forgot to clean them. Haylee was a little upset that the DNA was being removed from the room as she was practicing her evidence collection skills. In spite of Haylee’s desire to stay and play in the CSI playground, the rest of us decided to find another room for the next night. So Nicole, being a 5 star planner got to work on her lap top. She used Priceline.com to find us a 4 star hotel that happened to be next to Ground Zero.
I was torn between having a big flashy finish or just finishing. I just can not bring myself to tell everyone what I’m doing. “Look at me, look what I did,” just does not sound right. I have followed my instinct this far, why change now. I decided to do a quiet tribute and that’s how I’ll finish. Not very flashy, but real. I finished with the ones I love. I feel like I have more questions than answers when I finish. Did I really accomplish anything? Did I make a difference? Was this a tribute to those men? Only time will tell. After some food and a fresh squeezed juice, my mind feels a little more at ease. I start feeling a little more human, a little more happy.
It turns out that if you rent a car from Hertz rent-a-car one way, you get charged for it for every additional day. We decided to drive into Manhattan and exchange the rental car in order to save $150.00. Hertz in New York City could stand a little training in customer service. Both Hertz locations were so rude and unfriendly, I could not believe it. They really put a little damper on our evening. After dealing with such great people for so long it was sobering to be treated so unfriendly. The girls and I decided that as long as we are nice to each other we can deal with a few unfriendly outsiders. Thank you for nothing, Hertz.
We went to bed hoping not to get killed or caught up in some type of crime scene. I fell asleep very easy. I was awakened by the sound of a car alarm at about 4:30 am. Starving, I attempted to find something to eat at the vending machine, fail. “Babe, wake up we have to go eat, I’m starving.” So we went back to the diner that we ate dinner at. After breakfast we went back to the Cesspool Inn and went back to sleep.
The next morning we prepared for our journey to the big city. Nicole was super excited about driving in New York, a feeling she would soon lose. Renting a car in New York $130, GPS $300, driving in New York City, priceless. After a long adventure through city streets, we finally made it to our hotel. Great job driving, Nicole.
We pulled up to the The Millinium Hilton and checked in. The hotel was not just close to Ground Zero, it was at Ground Zero. “Oh my God, we are staying at Ground Zero.” I feel emotions rushing through my body as I realize that I am at Ground Zero again. It looks so familiar. I take a deep breath and follow the girls up to our room. We are staying on the 35th floor. We walk into the room, this cannot be right. Our window is over looking Ground Zero. Nicole opens the blinds and looks out. I walk slowly with hesitation to the window. Nicole is already in tears, she is overcome by the sure power of Ground Zero. “Oh my God,” I think to myself. My room is on top of Ground Zero. I cannot believe this. As everything comes into view, I am overcome with emotion. The memorial is beautiful. It is done in very good taste. It is a very wonderful pool that marks the foot prints of the two towers. I am surprised that there is still so much construction going on. The memorial is complete but everything else is still under construction. It looks similar to what it looked like 9 years ago. The big difference it that it is under construction not demolition. I can’t believe how nice the memorial looks. This is why I rode my bike all those miles. I knew I would never get anywhere around Ground Zero on 9/11. It was like the universe just handed me a back stage pass. I would have the next 24 hours to pay my respects to those men. Just then the phone rang. It was Rob Curtis. We talked about 9/11 and what it meant to us as I watched the sun set on Ground Zero.
I started to feel some comfort while I soaked it all in. I am so glad the memorial was done in good taste. I am so glad to see the rebuilding. The Freedom Tower is a beautiful sign of recovery. This place will always have its scars, but it is healing. Healing, that’s what I feel, like I am healing as I stand here. I share my experiences with my family. I talk about what this place means to me. I encourage them to have their experience. What I did does matter. It mattered to me. I spent the last 47 days dedicating myself to the victims of 9/11 and I feel good about it. I did what I needed to do to honor them. I just finished the final mile.
To the men and women of the fire service across this nation, I send my deepest sympathy, brothers. Job well done.
Love Your Brother,
Some how the stars aligned when I decided to bid on a secret hotel that turned out to be the Millenium Hilton on Priceline.com just last night. They accepted the bid and now we are on the 35th floor overlooking Ground Zero, where the Twin Towers stood ten years ago. The area is bustling with people from all over the world… just as it probably was before 9/11/2001. Except now there is this overwhelming feeling of grief and loss when we think about all the human beings that lost their lives that day, including the 343 firefighters that died answering the call of duty one last time. We can’t stop staring out the window at the 9/11 Memorial site.
Reunited and it feels so good
Jason and Team Teter finished the 47 day journey today at around 3pm, with Haylee, Whitney and I at his side. We will be spending the next five days in New York together! Jason is still absorbing the culmination of his adventure and he will update the blog as soon as he can. Please continue to check the blog, as we will be posting pictures and writing about our experience during the 9/11 Day of Remembrance. Thank you for all your love and support, you have lifted us up and carried us through the hard times.
Love, The Teters
I woke up this morning in disbelief, no rain. You have got to be kidding me, how is this possible? I planned my whole day around rain. I did not even set an alarm. I could still be out of here by 10am. I turned on the Weather Channel, the same people who where telling me to build an ark. The radar showed only patchy rain. I better get it together fast and get on the road. Just as I figured, right before I headed out, down came the rain to wash a biker out.
I took to the road with a vengeance, “let’s get this done.” I figured every mile over 30, I could subtract from 100 miles, a total of 130 miles (more like 160). The first 30 miles were a little tough being hilly, cold, wet, and I had a flat tire. “Come on 30 miles,” it felt like an eternity. Once I hit 30 miles, I felt a little choked up. “I’m counting down the last 100 miles of a 47 day, 3627 mile bike ride.” All kinds of things started racing through my mind, ” I want the finish to be perfect.” And then I remembered one of the many lessons I have learned on this trip. ” I’m going to just show up and it will be perfect.”
I wish I could report that I was in this frame of mind all day. I’m not always very good with my emotions. I was still fatigued most of the day. My phone was acting up in the damp weather which was an irritant. At some point I got so mad trying to answer the phone that I yelled out in frustration. I must be getting hungry, I thought. No its more than that, I’m also tired. I told myself, “today is your day, you do what you need to do to get the mileage in. You have worked hard, you have paid your respects, now you have a job to do. Finish your ride.” Suddenly I felt a lot better after giving myself permission to feel bad.
My wife was my motivation to ride today. I want to see her tomorrow and the closer I get today, the sooner I see her tomorrow.
I listened to what the universe told me today. I listened to the omens. The universe said, “today you ride.” The universe knows what I want. I ran across a group of Marines in full gear, including guide-ons marching from Texas to New York (On Facebook: 325 th SFS 9/11 Ruck March To Rember). They are set to arrive on Sept 11th. This is a good omen I thought. Suddenly it hit me, I’m a small part in a really big thing. I felt a sense of honor. We were all traveling the same road for the same cause. We are paying our respects to those who gave everything to keep us safe, and free.
I am not sad that my journey will be coming to an end. I am not over excited that I will finish tomorrow. I am ready to finish. I am ready to go home. I am excited to see my wife, my partner, Nicole. She has worked hard to get this team across the finish line. I am excited to see my family, Haylee and Whitney. I am looking forward to seeing my friend Andre.
I have learned many lesson on the trip. Lessons I will share with you in the future, along with photos, video, and celebration. I have made many new friends. A lady asked me today, “What are you getting out of this?” Knowing her meaning I replied “nothing.” The true answer to that question is “a gift.” A Fireman asked me why I was doing this ride and I told him, “I am searching for something.” So what did I find, what is the gift? It’s what I had all along, YOU. Thank you so much for sharing this journey with me. I could not have made it without you. Tomorrow is your day. Tomorrow is the finish line. Tomorrow we all celebrate our victory. Please join me on the blog and Spot as I ride the final 55 miles to New York. I plan on crossing the finish line with Nicole, Whitney, Haylee, and Andre between 2pm and 4pm eastern time. Some say you cannot choose your family, I disagree. I have always chosen my family. We are all family.
Good night and thank you family.
The boys at Lewisburg Fire were a sight for sore eyes yesterday. I was welcomed by their mascot the EMS monkey. His number is 1369. It was so nice to have a place to recover after a long day of riding in the rain. They sent me off with a home cooked breakfast this morning. Thanks boys.
At the risk of sounding like a whiner, I am going to tell you about my day. Make no mistake, I am not thinking of quitting, I realize I chose this journey, and in no way would I change a thing. That being said, let the whining begin.
My mind woke up this morning with the alarm ready to go. My body on the other hand was exhausted from the day before. I woke up cold and tired. I knew it was still raining and I searched for motivation to get back out in it. I ate breakfast with the boys and started packing all my gear that I had just dried out the night before. I looked at my wet shoes sitting next to my warm bed. All I want to do is go back to sleep. I walked up to the firehouse from the bunk house in the rain. I told one of the guys I was thinking of taking the day off. He says, “Tomorrow is going to be much worse, you should ride today and take tomorrow off.” The book I listened to calls them omens. Not a kid with numbers on his head, but the universe helping direct you on the journey you choose. So I listened and headed out. Thank goodness I listened to the jacket omen or I would not be able to ride at all.
Riding all day in the rain really adds a new element to everything. It makes your muscles cold which causes you to burn more energy, faster. It keeps your glasses covered in water reducing your visibility. It hits your skin on the down hills feeling like darts from a blow gun. Your water bottles grind the cages with dirt as you pull them out to drink, through a mouth full of road grime. The water hides objective hazards. That may be why both my tires went flat at the same time today. Talk about feeling defeated, “really, two flats I have to change in the rain?” I feel like I knew this was all coming. I feel like the closer I get, the further away I am.
I pulled into a gas station to drink some coffee and warm up. I asked the clerk, “how are you?” He answered “better than you.” I had to agree.
Some old lady said, “what are you riding for?” “911” I answered. She grumbled and said “I’m tired of hearing about that.” I told her the families were tired of hearing about it also but they did not get to stop listening.
The weather report is not good at all. They have extended the rain forecast for the remainder of the week. I am worn out and am taking tomorrow off in anticipation of un-rideable weather. I hope the rest will strengthen me enough to ride two more days in the rain and finish my journey. Thank you for all your love and support, I need it now more than ever. I feel like the journey is requiring its final payment. It is asking for a final display of endurance.