I remember the last half of my Bike & Build ride (a 4,000 mile cycling trip from Rhode Island to Washington that I did three summers ago) as a blur of terror. I remember frenetically praying to I know not what that my friends (my new family, really) wouldn’t be killed. I remember the rush of trucks, the air current that rattled my very bones, flying past me on biways without shoulders. I remember the fear.
I can taste the acid on my tongue, smell the hot concrete snapping under tires, feel the oppressive wind blowing heat into my face. And the fear and the fear and the fear. Every sound of a car from behind sent a shot of panic through my body. I would tense, wait for impact, and then breathe when the car flew past. I was unharmed.
I have been thinking of him ever since I heard the accident, replaying the million times I could have died, Ant could have died, any one of my friends could have died on that long journey.
Life is a fleeting thing. I came out of my trip knowing, more than anything, that my time on this planet is limited. Bike & Build taught me that there is adventure around me at all times, and that now is the right moment to seize it.
But for one, for Patrick Wanninkhof, the trip was his last adventure. His life was stolen from him at age 25.
Today I saw Mount Shasta and a strip of pink sunset in the space between a mountain range and set of think clouds. I prayed that the rest stay safe, that all of the adventurers in the world today make it home, that the families of those who don’t feel some semblance of comfort.