Almost every day since I started this blog, I've gotten an uplifting comment from Ellie, the Beast's best fan since her first moment in BMX. Today she said: "I can't tell you how excited I am to check in on you guys everyday and see what is new!" In addition to that, shortly after starting our @ridethenation Twitter account, I got a "tweet" from Elaine that read: "Thanks, you're making me a techie too!" And from the frozen, snow laden Canadian north, my friend, Sheena emailed: "I received an invitation to join you on twitter. OK I'm old and not up on all the new STUFF. What exactly is it and how is it different from your blog or emails?". (Don't let that comment fool you. Sheena is one of the savviest women I know and will have it all figured out by the time I have this posted!)
All of these messages came from women I admire, respect and enjoy knowing. Although we haven't even left home yet, this bike ride has grown into something beyond a physical challenge. We have gotten so much moral support and encouragement that all of it makes me feel better than I have in a long time. In a word, I feel lighter.
As for bike riding, we did not ride today. Frankenbutt worked, the Beast studied and I painted. (I really must research self-painting trim for the next project house.) While I painted, I pondered how many different bathrooms I'd possibly have to use those many months away from home. I calculated 700+ bathrooms, not counting the emergency road side situation. Hmm, I came up with my first spontaneous tweet, "3000+ miles bike trip: Yeah; 700+ bathrooms: Ick!". Although, I've resisted social networking sites and any deep commitment to technology, I'm willing to try it. If I don't die from it, I'll probably try it again. Maybe the younger generation does know something we do not. Maybe we should consider following them, once in awhile.
FYI, I can hear my mom's voice saying, "if your friend jumps off a bridge, are you going to do it, too?". Ironically, I did. During one of the Beast's first BMX camps, the young instructor, Justin Travis, led the kids (and a few of us adults) to a covered bridge at Mount Madness in New Hampshire. There was a brief discussion about overcoming fears on the track and then he and a few of the BMX campers jumped off the bridge and into the cold water below. They hooted, hollared and high fived one another and called for the other campers to do it, too. One by one they mustered their courage and jumped the 20 or so feet from the bridge's rail to the water below. Without any warning, Frankenbutt jumped off the bridge. Suddenly, Justin was calling for me to jump. I froze with fear but something deep inside was bubbling with excitement.
At first, I gave excuses: "I'm too old for that" and "I'm not even wearing a swim suit". I remember young Chris Bickford smiling up at me and saying, "Come on, be my hero". My icy fear thawed with those words and I climbed up and stood on the rail. Everything in me said "You can't do this". I took a deep breath and jumped. It was over in seconds and I felt brave and strong and cold. It's a memory I cherish and a feeling I know I need once in awhile to keep the kid inside of me happy and make even a fat forty something, feel lighter.