I rode in BRAN, Bike Ride Across Nebraska, in 1983, and 1984 and then took a hiatus until 2010.
We all have memory loss
I hadn’t remembered that sometimes you get sore while riding.
Share with Others
In fact, I was so sore; I was afraid I might have to quit. I befriended a biker named Judy. She’s from Scottsbluff, Nebraska. She had some Bag Balm and told me that’s what I needed. She lent me some of hers to get me through, but I really needed some of my own.
Don’t watch what you say.
Okay, that should be, watch what you say, but that doesn’t usually happen during a Long-Distance bike ride. You’d never talk to another human being the way bikers talk to each other.
While at a rest stop, Judy ran up to me. “How’s your butt doing?”
I can’t imagine saying that to someone in the office.
Another time, I offered a fellow biker a Fiber one bar. “Oh, no. I have diarrhea as it is.”
There’s a loosening of the tongue that seems to spill out. People aren’t even aware they’re doing it. I confess I’ve spilled my guts to people I don’t even know while riding or at a rest stop. It’s almost a truth serum.
Go to the Helpers
A.K.A. Town Hosts go out of their way to help you. When I got to town, in 2010, I went to the town host tent and asked if they had a pharmacy. I needed that Bag Balm. I whispered to them the problem I was having. Again, bikers share too much. Frankly, I’m not even sure I whispered. I may even have pantomimed the situation. She said she had some and could give me hers, but I didn’t feel right about it. Besides. I knew I’d need more. She called the Pharmacy, and they reserved their last canister for me.
Go to the Helpers part 2
A.K.A. Shuttle Bus drivers are very astute. I caught the shuttle. The bus driver asked all the riders where we wanted to go. Shouts of, “Beer, Bar, Food rang out. I said, “Pharmacy.”
The bus driver turned, “You’re going first.”
Go to the Helpers Part 3.
A.K.A. Pharmacies are lifesavers. Off I went to the pharmacy. They held their last can for me. It was wrapped in a sheet of paper with my name on it. Then, I looked at the price. $10.89. The price didn’t shock me, even in 2010, but the numbers were the numerals of the house I grew up in. I swear I thought I heard angels singing.
Another time, while on BRAN. I was taking a shower, and my glasses crashed to the floor. The arm of my glasses broke loose. It fit in a weird way. It snaked around in a third-dimension letter “S” that was divided by an algorithm, multiplied by confusion and meant one thing. I can’t ride my bike the remaining three hundred plus miles without being able to see.
Everybody needs Duct Tape.
And no one had any. My one-armed pair of glasses sat cockeyed and gave me a headache. All I could think of was, I won’t be able to finish the ride.
I took it the BRAN folks. They couldn’t figure it out. They sent me to the town host. They couldn’t figure it out, but they said, “Go see Sally at the Pharmacy. She knows things.”
Off to the Pharmacy, I went. (See Pharmacies are lifesavers) We were expecting a very cold night. It was supposed to dip down to below 32 degrees. The pharmacy was very busy with bikers buying up things to stay warm. Sally, the one who knows things, said, “Let me work on it.”
Everybody needs a blankie.
While perusing their inventory, I ran into a biker I met the day before. He bought the cutest little ducky baby blanket. He was self-contained, and the blankie would sit atop his panier.
“What do I care,” he said, “It will keep me warm.”
“I got it,” Sally said from behind the counter. Sally, the one who knows things. She did. She fixed my glasses.
Bikers will help you. There are so many instances of this. There’s the time after a hard ride; I could barely finish setting up my tent. We were expecting a heavy rain, so many of the bikers had set up inside the fairground’s animal shelters. Another biker saw I was struggling to set up my tent. He instinctively started grabbing the poles and helped me set up.
Another time, during an optional 100-mile ride, a biker passed a rider who was struggling. He watched the struggling rider in his rear-view mirror and saw the biker collapse onto the highway. He went back, pulled the biker and his bike off the road, and called for help. He stayed with him until the ambulance came.
That night I helped the helper, set up his tent.
It’s okay to cry.
The next day, I witnessed their reunion when the biker who collapsed offered his hand to the biker who helped him. They shook, and the biker who had collapsed thanked him. Believe me, when I say, I cried.
If you fall down, get back up.
The biker who collapsed, got back on his bike the next day and every day that followed and finished the ride.
Be a kid again.
On one particularly hot BRAN day, I was riding with Judy when we passed a home that was watering their lawn. Judy knocked on the door and asked if it was okay if we could run their sprinklers. The lady said she didn’t mind, and we ran back and forth until we cooled off.
Last year on the Mickelson Trail Trek, we passed a ditch full of hail from the storm the night before. Judy threw hail-balls at myself and passing cyclists. (No one was injured)
Know your numbers
I was biking along, and two bikers passed me. One was concentrating and counting. “Seven-hundred and twenty-five, seven-hundred, and twenty-six.”
“Ignore him,” his friend said. “He’s counting every crack in the road.
“Seven hundred and twenty-seven, seven-hundred, and twenty-eight.”
I have a count down at my desk at work. It’s not fancy. Just a cardboard cutout of the state of Nebraska and then the total number of days until BRAN. I brought the countdown with me when we transitioned to work from home. As of this writing, the countdown is three-hundred and ninety-four days.
So, we’ll see in you in three-hundred and ninety-four days or seven hundred and twenty-nine cracks in the road, whichever comes first.
Seven hundred and thirty cracks in the road, seven hundred and thirty-one cracks in the road……