Ride of Silence



Crooked Tan Lines, Thursday, July 4, 2013, 6 am, leaving Gunnison, CO

Lance Shelton, my bike buddy, is driving the mountain alleys as the sun rises behind us, as if a giant bedroom shade is being lifted across the sweep of pasture and craggy ridges. There’s beauty on the banks of Black Canyon reflecting the rock centurions that guarded these spots for centuries. We remark how this is how it will look when we start our journey in three days. My ears pop from the altitude.

Our bikes are sitting on back seat behind us (it’s a rental!), and our body-bag size luggage is in back. Packing for a month on the road is tough if you’ve only got one bag.

After the initial hoo-rah of starting that is familiar to anyone who’s done a large athletic event (marathon, bike rally, etc), I envision the ride becoming rote, a job, another day in paradise, or in the saddle as the case might be. For example, I expect when we pass the inspiring Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, we’ll casually glance over at it, but be more concerned about making the hotel to rest and eat. When passing the glorious wheat field oceans of the mid-west after three weeks of 100+ mile rides, we’ll have a road-weary look of veteran road warriors. When looking out over vistas of majesty that’s taken millions of years to carve and create, we will pass by in an almost disrespectable instant, bemoaning the climbing, grade, and the “miles we have to go before we sleep.” Like a soldier in the trenches looking gritty and a little beaten up with a slight jadedness, we’ll adopt that look and attitude naturally. It will be apparent when “The Thirds” (those coming on to ride a third of the distance with us) join our group. They’ll have the excitement and energy of a recruit, or new puppy. We’ll just give them a blank stare of an old dog.

Janalou gave me a journal the night before I left. She tucked in under my pillow. In it, she wrote something for me to read every day. VERY cool, not to mention a lot of work. She also left a blank page after each entry for me to write in. On the inside, past the cyclist on the cover, Janalou wrote a bunch of cycling quotes. Pres. Kennedy, writer Ernest Hemmingway, and poet Robert Frost are included (referenced above in quotes). Janalou’s a good wife. I’m very thankful.

But that wasn’t all. She gave me a necklace with two small charms on it. One is just the word “Faith.” The other is a bike with an inscription on the back: “Faith Journey, PAC Tour, 2013.”

A few months into the concentrated training for this trip, I was injured. It was a critical time in the middle of the build-up that I didn’t have time to repeat given the time line I was on. I was out for at least four weeks that had me questioning how this ride would be completed if I didn’t have the necessary training. I told Janalou it was have to be on faith. Faith that I would heal, faith that I would be able to continue the training, and faith that I would get to the start line, and then be able to finish. A faith journey.

Out the window, the giants are still standing guard over their valleys and peaks.

….How will the mountains celebrate our 4th of July tonight?