I am home...the ride is over, its ended, kapput...the journey has come to its climax! I am a little confused today, Monday, not knowing what to do. My body was screaming let's go, let's go! We have more left in the tank! My thighs ached all day wanting to get on a bike and cycle.
It was an extraordinary feeling, confusing, torn between what I wanted to do and what I needed to do...
yesterday. Sunday was the day I had waited for for 31 days. It almost seems impossible looking at the map of America that I cycled all the way across...all the way from Los Angeles to washington DC.
It saddened me terribly, however, to hear that my wife, Laurie, had kept an incident from me as not to discourage me on my journey. Someone had sent an anonymous E-mail suggesting that I had not cycled across, but had, in fact, spent the trip relaxing in the RV! If it were not for the fact that I had met hundreds of new people on the road. If it were not for the fact that hundreds of thousands of people had driven past me on my journey, many of them waving. If it were not for the fact that many people had helped me and talked to me along the way, shopkeepers, police officers, traffic wardens, truck drivers, strangers who changed my tires in the middle of the desert, people that I helped like the lady on Interstate 40 that had a blown tire. If it were not for the fact that hundreds of cyclists were invited to ride along at certain stages, and many did through Oklahoma, Tennessee and Washington DC. If it weren't for the fact that Charlie Luessenhop rode the entire first 5 days through to Flagstaff AZ with me or that my father-in-law, a christian of the highest moral values was with me, looking after me, for the last four days through the toughest and longest sections going through Tennessee, Virginia and into DC. And last but definately not the least, that Chris Brown, the most excellent and loyal companion of my journey, was there all 31 days watching and supporting, a gentleman of high integrity...I might not have believed it myself. It was the achievement of my lifetime.
To question my tour is to question the integrity of hundreds of people and thousands of witnesses...to throw calamity into the adventure of a lifetime. This ride was a celebration! The accusation that was brought to light including the accident in Bristol TN, was the only sour note. But as sour as it was, nothing could change nor spoil the taste of achievement of having accomplished the goal of crossing coast to coast and the life changing experience's I encountered. The Journey was not the point, the cause was and still is The cause of curing all blood-related cancers is the most important value of the journey. Winning the title of Man of the Year was never a consideration as those close to me know, the heightening of awareness of the cause I sent across America was the most satisfying achievement I have ever had.
The people I met, the places I saw, the memories I stored, the friends I made and the bonds I sealed are going to be the most precious I take with me forward for the rest of my life. Next to my marriage and my childrens birth, these memories are the ones that will always remain with me.
Touring on a Bicycle at 15 mph, the beauty of America brought an appreciation of this land that we call home, sweating blood and tears and exerting the passion I did through each town, and each state, allowed me to take part of each with me...the feeling that part of California followed me to Arizona, and Arizona to New Mexico, through to Texas and Oklahoma..how can I forget beautiful Oklahoma and the Angel that came to me to boost my spirits. Each state is sealed on my heart, a badge I sewed onto my sleeve, as I wove my tyres across the landscape of America.
I have done something that in the great scheme of things few have done, I knew it was never going to be unique, but it was going to be unique for me, and that is what mattered...I was able to achieve a goal, and enrich my life, and if it were not for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the high standards set, I would never have contemplated such a remarkable feat. So I thank you for allowing me the opportunity in my life to help me help others. I hope that I have been able to fulfill the standards you have in your organization. For me, I exceeded the standards in my life and you helped me, as did everyone I met on my journey to raise the bar in my life.
The last day was more of a parade for me, it was my homecoming, I set out from warrenton along route 15 to get to Leesburg, a simple ride of 30 miles. At Leesburg I met up with 10 other cyclists who dared brave the potential downpour that had threatened all day. It was an amazing feeling to be cycling down the W&OD bike path into Rossyln. It had been a mainstay of my training, when I needed miles and endurance this was the path I took. Today it was going to be a gentle ride back into town.
I thank everyone who came home with me, and brought me to the end of my journey..thank you..Michael Long, thank you..its the first time I have seen you outside of the Business Suit ..thank you, thank you so much. Thank you Bruce Deming for your companionship on Saturday and again on Sunday with all your organizational skills to make the final ride happen. The ride ended with us being escorted through DC with an escort by the DC Park Police, parading around the town, Carol, you were awesome girl...I know it was tough for you...it was all for you Carol..I could have dedicated the whole ride just for you....you were my Rock. Lucy my neighbor, i know it was tough for you, but thank you, I will ride with you anytime..thank you for seeing me home...
We were home 2830 in 31days.... it averaged out at 91 miles per day....just a little bit short of the 100 miles per day we set, but you know what..it is not 3000 miles from coast to coast! I don't think anyone will mind..Of the 31 days, I achieved 19 days in excess of 100 miles..and 3 days that just fell short of 100 miles...thats almost 21 century rides in 31 days...
The naivety of the ride is what helped! If I had known then what I know now, I probably would not have attempted the ride. I am glad I was such a novice, as a cyclist, this was a baptism of fire..in at the deep end. Not knowing what pain I was going to go through helped me look at every day as an adventure. Every hill and mountain I climbed was one step closer to home, even though it did not seem that way most of time, it brought me closer to what was important in this life, our ability to give to society. Society is what it is all about, the bonds I feel with my fellow friends has been tightened like a vice that wrap around me.
I am home, I have helped in a small way, I know that someone somewhere has been touched by my journey, if I have given just one person inspiration in life, then I have achieved something by default that I never thought of at the start of my journey. The awareness of our goal has been spread across America...from East to West and then back again...the badge I wear today is not that of hero, or inspirational, or candidate for Man of the year...the badge I wear today is that of husband to my wife and daddy to my children, to see my two children awaken this morning and see me in the bedroom with them, was like having 30 Christmas mornings all rolled into one moment.
If anything, the joyous moment of seeing my family again was worth the entire journey. I sacrificed thirty days away from my children, just to hope that no parent has to give up the feeling of ever not seeing their child in the morning...every morning for the rest of their lives.
The Cause goes on....but for this moment it is time for my family..just one thing to say before I go to bed...this is important..please go to this site ..http://www.rideofsilence.org..
I cycled across the United states, I was amazed at my journey, yet I was stunned at the ignorance of many car drivers as to the awareness of cyclists on the road. I had encountered this in training, but the stupidity I encountered in certain states particularly, was disturbing. One day in just one moment, this journey could have ended differently..be aware..cyclists share the road with cars...it is not our privilege..it is our Right.
Cycle on and please don't forget the Cause..make a donation if your heart tells you to www.tonysbikefight.com if you are linking from another site...Tony