Day 32 – Wednesday, August 17, Gardner, MA to Peabody MA – 74.2 miles 1,660′ and another 6 miles to the hotel.
It is now Sunday, August 21, as I write this (and Day 31’s post). I arrived home late Wednesday night only to be faced on Thursday with a myriad of domestic issues that have occupied me since. My air conditioning system died, and was replaced on Friday; the installation of which required a new circuit breaker that couldn’t be found (it as an old brand); the hot water wasn’t hot, so had to wait for the plumber; and a friend came yesterday to help with the breaker and a few electrical issues that should have taken half an hour but took almost three!! Not because he didn’t know what he was doing, but because it was just the karma of the day. I was as exhausted from all of that running around as I was from riding!
I did go out yesterday morning for a ride with friends and again this morning. It was good to stretch my legs and catch up with people, but I think I need a few more days of recovery as I couldn’t turn the pedals very quickly.
Back to the last day of riding, Wednesday. The beginning of the day was quite good. I was surprised that I had some pep left in me legs. We were on roads that I knew through several towns, which seemed so strange after weeks of not knowing exactly where I was or what to expect.
Everyone seemed to be having a good time and I was feeling so peppy that when the fast “guys” came by I couldn’t resist. I jumped on Louise’s wheel and chased with them up a hill, waving at the others as I passed by…”see how fast I am!” Of course, I only lasted several yards probably and wore my legs in the process. I can never learn. But it was worth the effort.
We were then on endless, heavily trafficked roads as we headed northeast toward Peabody, a lovely North Shore city about 18 miles from Boston. We had to go through some not so pretty, industrial areas and contend with Boston drivers, but I could finally smell the sea air (well sort of) and we entered Winter Island Park.
There was a lovely small beach in which we all waded…oooh that cold Atlantic water felt so good. We did lots of hugging and congratulations, then the obligatory group photo followed by our last lovely, delicious PAC Tour lunch.
I found one of the hardest parts of the day’s route was the 6 miles to the hotel. It was a bit confusing finding the right way to go, it was terribly hot and there were more upticks! Ouch, my legs and quads just screamed at me on every pedal stroke.
So there we were at the end. Most of the others had to spend the next hour or so packing up their bikes in their box or other carrier of choice and getting them ready to be shipped home. Oh, joy. I didn’t have to. I had a hotel room as I my original plan was to stay through Thursday, which was the official travel home day. I had a wonderful shower and a leisurely rest of the afternoon. I was joined by my brother, John, and three friends for the celebratory dinner.
The dinner was wonderful. Susan put together an almost hour long slide show that brought back so many memories and/or reminded us of places we had been that we (at least me) had almost forgotten. We laughed and maybe even cried a little at all the pictures of each of us in the various stages of the incredible journey we all experienced together.
To top off the celebration, Susan presented each of us a plaque commemorating the trip with a picture of us attached. She captured each person’s personality and experience on the trip so perfectly. There was great applause given and shared for every one. When she got to me, she bemoaned the fact that my effort climbing up the Big Horn wouldn’t be “officially” record setting because I didn’t do the whole day. I think we both said simultaneously that I’d be back! (Well, we’ll see.)
At the moment I can’t adequately sum up the whole experience. There is just so much to process. Time will put it all in place. In the meantime, it is the end of a magnificent, astounding ride. What I have learned about parts of this vast country and from the people with whom I shared the journey are priceless.
Thank you, too, to all of you who have followed along with me and shared your thoughts and comments as I progressed literally and figuratively on a physical journey that turned out to be so much more!
What I have learned about the power of my own body, feelings and emotions, even needs, has been totally unexpected and will be transformative as I look toward my life before me…on and off my bike!
— C’est fini — for the moment any way.
At some point I will put together a post with lot’s of pictures that I wasn’t able to post along the way, but here are just a few from the last day.
Here’s the mad packing scene at the hotel.
Here’s one of my great riding partners, Jeff Rogers, contemplating his next move.
This is my heroine, Louise Comar, celebrating the fact that I am in front of her. And that is my other riding powerhouse partner, Drew Carlson, behind us.
This is the path we took!
Here, too, is one of the other few women on the trip and new friend, Kathleen Kirk, as we walked to the beach.