It’s a little over two weeks since our trip ended. Since then, the government has re-opened, and I’m back at work. I’m still frantically trying to catch up on things, which has been complicated by moving to a new house. My arm and knee have more or less healed, and I’m back to commuting on the bike, with occasional coffeeneuring trips.
It seems overly dramatic to say that a bicycling trip has changed my life, but I feel like I’ve learned a lot. I learned that I am capable of riding a week-long bicycle tour, and that 50 miles a day, with stops, is completely within my range. I learned that I don’t need to fuel up with food in one go, that I’m fine (better, even) to eat small, light meals throughout the day. I’m reminded (as if I needed reminding) that persistence and determination carries me through obstacles and that I am the stronger for it, but I’ve also learned to take care of myself and listen to my body.
I’ve also learned that in any venture, the best-laid plans will go awry and you just have to go with the flow and make decisions on the spot. I loved being outside– yes, even in the pouring rain– and I think it did a world of good for me to be out in the woods, not sitting at a desk and staring all day at a computer. I think I need to unplug and be away regularly for my physical and mental health. I learned a lot about the history of this region, and I am grateful that there are people who take the time to preserve it.
And always, most importantly, I very much enjoyed riding with my friends. From the beginning through to the end, we all got along so well. We spent a lot of time laughing together and we enjoyed each other’s company, on the bike and off. At one of our meals, we were musing over whether we could have done this ride alone. “I guess I could do it,” I said, “but I’d rather be riding with a group– it’s more fun that way.” It was definitely more fun this way– it saved me from spending the trip talking to myself too much, in any case.
Many thanks go to the following people and organizations:
To the Allegheny Trail Alliance, C&O Canal Trust, Western Maryland Rail Trail, Friends of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, and the National Park Service. Thanks especially go to the staff and volunteers at the visitor centers in the towns we rolled through.
To the places we’ve stayed, the riders we met along the way, and to those of you who sent us encouraging messages via Facebook and Twitter: thanks so much for your support!
To Jane: thank you so much for doing all of the organizing and preparation several months ago– this trip went smoothly because of you. To Nathan: thank you for your bike repair knowledge and great sense of humor. To Steve: thank you for listening to my rants and for making sure I wasn’t left behind. To David: thank you for your ever-positive attitude and awareness of our beautiful surroundings. I would gladly ride with you guys again anytime.
Thank you, readers, for following along. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I’ve enjoyed re-living it while writing this series.
My photo set is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ramblingrider/sets/72157636500882133/