Today was day 20 of 40 of cycling. We also passed the half way of our total distance just west of Mitchell, South Dakota (home of the Corn Palace). (By my estimate, we're also at 55% of the 44 kilometres of climbing we'll do.)
This is an interesting experience. I'm very much enjoying the cycling, the challenges (yesterday we rode up-wind for 183 kilometres,
7 hours, 24 minutes) and the over-all experience. At the same time I miss my wife and my family. In an hour I'll join our group for dinner
- when I'd really like to be sitting with Carolyn at our kitchen table over pasta and a bottle of wine.
We've seen some remarkable terrain, and some not so much. The Columbia River Gorge, the hills and mountains of Montana and Wyoming (though it's interesting to me we got through the Rockies without ever seeing a true mountain - my description bring rocky peak above the tree line), the Black Hills, Spearfish Canyon and Badlands National Park in South Dakota all rank as memorable. The cornfields and soy fields of South Dakota have started to wear a bit - and this is before we hit Iowa.
Overwhelmingly the people we meet in bars, shops, motels, on the streets, etc. are very friendly and supportive. So too the drivers, especially of big trucks. There has been, of course, the odd yahoo; fortunately, no incidents with vehicles.
(Speaking of no incidents, I'm pleased to note Leigh is recovering well. I'll appreciate if everyone will send good thoughts to him and to Lorne.)
Our group is an interesting bunch. 20 cyclists, 4 guides, the massage lady (she of magic hands) and her husband and Maggie, their 17 month old toddler. We make quite a caravan as we travel, very occasional in a group, generally spread hours apart. The cyclists have bonded well and generally all work well and play well together.
There is, as you'd expect, a spread of abilities and experience as cyclists. There are 4 or 5 I'll categorize as the fastest and strongest, 3 who are slower. With the exception of the slower folks, we ride in ever changing groups, depending upon who starts or leaves lunch early, who stops for more pictures than others, etc.
I want to mention the slowest rider as he is becoming a bit of a hero to me. He's a big man (which makes the climbing we do that much
harder) who is not an experienced cyclist. Most days he is slogging it out on his own while the rest of us ride in groups, thereby sharing the task of facing the wind. (Almost all of us have spent time riding with this fellow; it works for a while - can't keep it up for long.).
Each day he finishes and each day we applaud him. His motivation relates to his daughter and issues she had; he's doing this for her and their relationship. I'm moved and in awe.
With this being the beginning of the Jewish New Year, I'll sign off with my wish for everyone for a year of health, peace, happiness and good things.