We smell the barn, so to speak. We’re close. Striking distance. Tonight we are camping on the glorious shores of Lake Champlain on the west side. Tomorrow morning we get to ride a beautiful rail trestle into Burlington VT. We are roughly 250 miles from home, depending on what route we choose. Once we cross into Vermont we will begin to know the roads, know the way home. Barring mechanical failure, or succumbing to saddle pain, we will roll home on Saturday.
A word about that last comment. Back in Ranchester WY we encountered a group we chatted with for a while. One guy said, “What y’all are doing is impressive but it’s not the bears in Idaho, the Bison in Yellowstone, nor the climbs over the mountain passes, that scares me. What frightens me most is that little seat y’all spend all day on.” Yes, that.
Today was 106 miles. We have been pulling 600 mile weeks lately, similar to what we were doing to get across South Dakota. SD is about 400 miles across and we ripped it in four and a half days. Such was the urgency to move through that sparse land. Glorious, beautiful, yet often desolate as it was. We slowed a little through Minnesota (yay the tour of the Prince studio! Yay the stop at the Weldon’s house!), plus the fact that once we wandered close to Minneapolis we had to deal with stop lights and traffic.
The truth is we aren’t locked into busy roads, as much as we complain about Google Lost. We have found marvelous rails to trails bike routes since we left Jason’s house back in Seattle. Of the 3200 miles (or so, I don’t keep track but Hobbit and Annie know the exact mileage) we have ridden, we have found untold bike trails, some paved some not, but all fabulous. We found brilliant trails in every state, notably the Pere-Marquette in Michigan we got lost in conversation and scenery for hours. Just this morning we biked the fabulous lakeside bike trail next to Lake Champlain:
The composition of the group during the days are changing. Obi-wan (Erich) will sometimes leave early, sometimes stay with us, but always on the move. He wakes, and by the time I have a cup of coffee he has already patched a tire or cleaned a chain. He eats nuts and berries and naps under trees while we dine on club sandwiches at the local diner. Obi-wan is at one with the road.
Now we are in Burlington at a cafe, waiting for Obi-wan and Owen to catch up. Owen had a major mechanical malfunction a few miles back. I think a pair of his shorts slid off the back of his bike and jammed into the rear brake. They arrived half an hour later.
But this isn’t unusual. Lately we often drift apart during the day. We joke that sometimes it’s like The Amazing Race, the show in which teams travel place to place any which way they possibly can.
Everywhere we stop people ask us questions. Ian is usually quiet and doesn’t talk a lot, so lately we’ve been getting him to explain what we’re doing. Most people think what we’re doing is not necessarily impossible, but impossible to them, beyond their reach. People everywhere tell us they could never do it.
Hobbit and I have been reflecting on two things. One, it is of course possible. It just takes one mile at a time to get it done. And two, we aren’t all as indispensable as we think. Life goes on. My own business still operates with me checking in periodically from the road. Hobbit’s studio business still runs and events are still hosted back home at his work, and patients still get good care at the hospital while Obi-wan isn’t there.
If all goes well, we roll into Yarmouth Maine on Saturday. If.