Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Destination and duration: UNKNOWN

I set out on RAGBRAI last week with a known destination and set time frame for completion of my literal journey and at the same time continued on a metaphorical journey through grief. My dad's death preceded this mega-ride by two months and a week.

Typically I love RAGBRAI start to finish. I enjoy the challenge, fellow riders, towns, local folks welcoming us, the costumes and characters, the stories and silences. Even on a difficult day with hills or heat, rain or flat, regardless of the difficulty, I would find the "awesome" in my ride. Journeys and journey stories lend themselves to personal transformations and RAGBRAI has proved no different for me in the past.

It didn't seem to be working out for me at first. The first three days of RAGBRAI XXXIX were extraordinarily hot, humid and hilly. To top it off, I was completely unable to find any "awesome" in the ride for nearly three days running. I hated RAGBRAI, didn't understand why anyone would ever do something so ridiculous, purposeless or insane. I hated kybos (the ubiquitous portable outhouses that populate the route), I hated the hills, I hated it when people talked to me, I hated it when they didn't. I hated the food, the water. I hated being on my bike. I hated being off it. I was so angry about everything that I actually flipped off the sun.

By Tuesday afternoon of RAGBRAI we were in Pilot Mound. We had twelve miles to go that included a hill that had become legendary over the course of the day. Most of my energy had gone into being angry. The rest had gone into climbing the hills in 90+ degrees and what seemed like 100% humidity. My loving and caring husband who remained steadfast through 99.9999% of the ride (he got a little crabby once or twice!) made the executive decision that I was refusing to make. We would "sag" in for the last twelve miles that day. (Sagging means waiting for the SAG -- Support And Gear -- wagon to come around, pick up your bike and yourself for a ride to the next town. In this case, Boone, our overnight town.)

Shortly after we made it to Boone, found our team campsite, set up our tent, snagged the last couple of slices of pizza and a beer. I sat down and proceeded with my meltdown. It was upsetting to me that this thing I loved (RAGBRAI) had turned into this thing that I now hated. Something that was irritating me. Something that was causing me to complain about my ride instead of really truly being able to answer the question "how was your ride?" with an enthusiastic, "Awesome!"

I did what anyone would do in that situation... I called Mom. 

Tune in tomorrow for the continuing saga...

Resources: Journey of grief  

No comments:

Post a Comment