Taylor texts Annalisa and I back after a few hours that she is waiting for us at the next town. Does this mean "The Three" will stay united?
The group makes a decision that it is best to rip off the bandage and split ways. Celebrating my birthday was the last hoorah! Now, Taylor departs at 5 a.m. while Annalisa and I take a rest day.
Group Dynamics of a Three Month Trip
We decided to rip off the bandaid.
Taylor is inspired by the Trans Am cyclists to do more miles and maybe finish the trail by July 24th. She could then fly home to New Orleans for a wedding.
Annalisa and I have our blogs to maintain and long days give us no energy to write.
The tug-of-war between long miles and shorter days would not magically disappear. Therefore, a big celebration marks a perfect time to say goodbye.
Meeting a Stranger
I did not know Taylor before this trip. Neither did Annalisa.
We met on a bike forum.
Taylor has been an inspiration by being such a powerful rider each and every day. She is the navigator, group alarm clock, chef, and the representation of the South.
I cannot wait to cheer her on one day in the Trans Am race.
We hope to see you soon. But maybe like Ben Afflect to Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting, maybe her departing is the best thing at this moment in life:
How do you celebrate a birthday on the trail?! More biking of course. And Girl Scout cookies.
What does it feel like to ride further than you ever have before? Kansas scares off many for the head winds. What they do not tell you about is when the wind is at your back...
Happy Father's Day!!! I roll out of the hotel with four Cinnabons in the handle bar bag, wave goodbye to Gill, and set off for Benedict. That is when we meet Pastor Joe who believes in the Rapture...
Day 25, June 18th, is a 75 mile ride leaving from a hotel and finishing in the house of Pastor Joe.
A storm threatens again this morning. Welcome to Kansas.
TransAm racers have been sharing stories about them going through snow storms, nights of pouring rain, and brutal conditions on the road. What do we do?
Mark finds Taylor, Annalisa, and I cuddled under the sheets watching Inspired to RIde, a documentary about the Trans Am race.
This makes us want to ride 100 mile days - after loading up on carbs at the all you can eat hotel buffet.
Meeting team LIVEabetes
Why are you two riding across the country, "Well...to raise money for this disease called type 1 diabetes."
LAUNCH THE FIREWORKS.
Justin and I are already sharing a Cinnabon as he says the magic words "Type 1..."
Justin and I quickly break out into T1D chatter, while Ashtyn and Taylor begin bonding on what it is like traveling with diabetics (lots of beeping, eating in the middle of the night, etc.). You should check them out on Instagram (@liveabetestour) because they are hilarious.
You can contribute to their campaign here: http://www.jdrf.org/liveabetesbiketour
News of a Death Spreads
Eric Fishbein was hit from behind at about 10:10 pm on Route 96 and pronounced dead at the scene. He was a competitor on the TransAm Race. (Read the short story)
This is a tough blow to the endurance community since the legendary rider Mike Hall was also killed this year. New concerns are bubbling up as the sport pushes people further into fatigue and dangerous situations. On the other hand, the news of cyclists being hit is becoming too frequent for people that are trying to do something amazing with their body and minds.
Everyone along the TransAm offers their condelsences to Eric, his family, the loved ones who are hearing this news, cyclists still out on the trail, those getting into the sport, and the individual that hit Eric. It is a tragedy to hear such news.
Belief in the Rapture
There is "small town" America. Is it still a town if less than one hundred people live there?
Pastor Joe offers him home as a place of refuge for cyclists along the TransAm. You meet him at his convenience store right off the road and he escorts you in his yellow school bus to the home.
Upon the first moments we knew this place would be like David's, back in Eastern Kentucky. Mark immediately leaves the group to push on further. In his defense, the sun is still up and the next stop is not too far away.
Your warning flags go off when someone begins the conversation that they were wanted by the federal government. Who knows if this is true or not but that is how Pastor Joe greeted us.
That does not mean we will refuse the free ice cream he offers. I believe accepting free ice cream is somewhere in the Code of Conduct for bicycle tourists.
The Tradeoffs of Free Lodging
Our group has done an incredible job on spending almost nothing on lodging. Overall, the roof over our heads comes without any obligation for something in return.
The way you pay for Pastor Joe's home is with your ears. He is the type of man that rambles from one story into the next without a breath or chance for the fellow listener to chime in. Frankly, Annalisa, T, and I could not think of much to add.
I classify these stays as "cultural experiences." We are on this trail to learn about America so this is part of our obligation.
We have many people bless us and invite us to hear their perspective and religious beliefs.
The line that Pastor Joe crosses is that he is a firm believer in The Rapture. In short, this is the belief that sinners are going to be eliminated by a plague one day while the believers will be left behind.
This radical idea leads to labeling of people who have sinned and those that are safe. What happened to the Lord forgiving all sins? Anyways...
Our prayer circle in the morning, led by Pastor Joe himself, included a reference to the September 11th attacks. This is a sensitive subject for all Americans, let along two people from the New York area.
You are physically safe while at Pastor Joes and he does welcome in travelers. Expect to pay with your ears and roll out early in the morning.
An early morning storms rattles the windows of Jack's house. He offers to drive me half way to make sure I get to the post office in time. Today, we officially ride into Kansas...
Do you need some inspiration on how to restore small town America? TransAm racers pass me all day, while a detour leads to the Greenfield, Missouri opera house...
The morning starts with a mad dash out of camp because of a thunderstorm. After everything settles, we meet Jon Lester who is in second place for the TransAm race.
There is some magic in the air this morning. We open the doors of the VFW building to a starry sky. It’s 4 a.m.