Day 21: Victory Within Reach

Today was the best day of my life. I say that sentence often because I have a very limited ability to remember things, and also because I think it is a great attitude to have about life. But really–today was amazing. I have blogged in the past about how difficult and amazing this journey is for me, how incredible it feels to complete a ride that mere hours before I was hoping to curl up on the side of the road and quit. What I haven’t blogged about is how difficult and amazing it is to help another rider through a day from hell/heaven. Today I had the distinct pleasure to help my partner in crime, Avry, through a long and tasking ride. It ended up being Avry’s longest and most successful (in terms of pace and attack of hills) ride yet!

Cycling alone is a challenge because you are forced to rely soley on your own physical power and mental tenacity. Cycling with someone else is another type of challenge–because you are a team, helping each other through unrelenting trials. A ride can me made or broken by the players in a team–for if everyone is angry and tired at the same time, a nice ride can quickly go sour.

Avry and I have known each other for little more than two years, and tend to work well together. Today, with our forces combined, we were unstoppable.

The days here in the Midwest seem to blur together. It has been hot, but not too hot. Windy, but nothing that crushes our spirit. There are fields for as far as the eye can see–corn, then soy, then corn and more soy. Some fields are waist-high, some above our heads, but always corn and then soy. The fields are occasionally broken up by small clusters of trees and modern houses.
It is flat here. It is flat in ways that Pittsburgh and the East Coast can’t even imagine. The never-ending horizontal line of the Atlantic doesn’t even touch the strange flatness of these fields of corn and soy. Standing at crossroads, these gridded roads seem to go on forever. With the heat and remoteness of our route, we experienced the erie quality of land that is fully crafted by humans, but that also rarely is inhabited by them. We were alone for much of the day.

The ride became challenging around mile 50, when small rolling hills began. Both of our moods were heading south as the afternoon heat started blowing into our faces. Avry was starting to hurt more and more as we crested each hill only to find another on the other side. With Avry’s body beginning to rebel, it became a challenge to change our negativity into positivity. Cycling in a bad mood is a terrible thing, it pulls you in and becomes worse and worse, harder and harder to push the pedals and move forward. I tried to stay strong for Avry, to help push both of us forward and keep the mood of the ride light.
What was so amazing was that we both realized that Avry has gotten stronger over the last month of cycling. Avry would not have been able to cycle the ride we rode today a month ago, or even two weeks ago. And with that insanely positive knowledge, Avry finished the ride. We pushed harder, excited that the end was nearing and with each revolution of our cranks, we knew we were getting stronger.

I’ve been thinking about the possibility of living dreams today. Avry and I have been planning this journey since October of last year, a good eight months. It seemed impossible that it would actually happen. We both worked over time, me in an office and Avry sanding floors. After an insane amount of work and a lot of support, today we actually are living our dream.

Today makes it seem that anything is possible. We can all live our dreams–we just have to be crazy enough to try, tenacious enough to keep going, and lucky enough to share the ride with people that bring us up.