I'm sore in places I didn't know existed.
After months of planning and a night of anxious sleep, our journey is finally underway. Let’s take a brief moment to review today’s stats, shall we?
1,219 calories burned.
4.5 liters of water drunk.
18 collective falls.
Are you proud of me yet? Because I sure as hell am.
Our day started bright and early in Buccleuch Park at the send-off party, where family, friends and fellow bikers came by to wish us luck and join us for the first leg of our trip. Soon enough, we were gathered together rolling out for the very first time as the crowd cheered us on. Before we made it out of the park, we had our first fall of the day (but hey, it wasn’t me this time!). As we straightened out and got into formation the group seemed to morph into a living creature. Thirty or forty cyclists in bright jerseys and flashy helmets moved as one, communicating with each other as we passed one another, signaled turns and hazards on the road, and chatted when we happened to be side by side.
The riding was easy to Princeton, where we stopped for lunch. Unlike last year’s Dreamers, who faced rain for the whole of their first day, we were fortunate to have beautiful weather and beautiful views, and no shortage of friendly cyclists and cars smiling and saying hello. In fact, today was the first time in my life I’ve been shouted at by a middle aged man in a moving car who sincerely wanted to hear how my day was and learn about where I was headed and why.
Around the forty mile mark things got tougher. The sun was high overhead and the hills were steep and horrible. Between downhill stretches my legs were positively bellowing at me to stop, what are you doing, you’ve never used us like this before. The last ten miles were murder. Fortunately it wasn’t too hilly, but by this time it was about 7 o’ clock and we hadn’t had a meal since 8. The traffic was heavy and the roads were terribly narrow, and every other block was filled with families partying and tormenting us with the tantalizing aroma of fresh barbecue.
This brings me to my main observation for the day. For the first time in my life, I’m becoming accustomed to the experience of discomfort. I was privileged to grow up in a wonderful home where all my needs were attended to. Come college, I always had dorms I could make cozy and access to food and drink within a ten minute walk. And let’s not forget the infamous tech internships, with their ergonomic chairs and unlimited snacks and massages every Friday. Since I’ve never been a serious participant in sports, I’ve always taken it for granted to be in a state of content homeostasis.
Today that went out the window. Since I’m not yet totally confident in my ability to multitask on wheels, thirst and hunger had to wait until we stopped. As exhausted as my body was, it kept pushing for *hours* past when I would have given up in a gym, because stopping was simply not an option. Every part of my body aches. My neck and shoulders, which have been working hard to keep my head up at a weird angle all day. My arms and wrists, which have braced my weight against the handlebars. My core, which kept me stable and (most of the time), safely balanced. My toes, which curiously lost feeling entirely after the forty mile mark. My palms and elbows sport booboos as tokens of the falls I’ve taken. And of course, my legs. Oh, my poor legs.
It doesn’t feel good, obviously. But these aches and pains and scratches and scrapes are reminding me of the incredible thing my body did today. It has never done anything compared to this kind of physical and mental endurance before, and to have conquered Day 1 feels almost as incredible as the first slice of pizza I scarfed down at dinner. So tonight I’ll drink some more water and slather Icy Hot all over my legs before I crash into a well-deserved sleep, satisfied in today’s accomplishment.