The Brillo Pad has scoured my Soul to the quick. There is nothing left to give…but I must go on.
Cleansed of all previous filth I enter the phase of Survival..the Way to the Staircase to the Stars.
Last night after an exhausting ride all of us faded to oblivion beneath the fluffy pink clouds and rustling cottonwoods. At two AM we were suddenly awakened by a wind and lightening storm with the threat of pounding rain. The Greek Gods turned the whispering cottonwoods to roaring trains backlit by jagged flashes of lightening. My tent ballooned but the stakes held to my relief. For two hours Angel and Flossie protected me from falling branches the size of my arms. Just as quickly as the electrical storm started it passed…with not a drop of rain. Others were not so lucky with tents being blown away to be recovered off in a distance at daylight…these unlucky ones took shelter in the van and trailer about 2:30 AM.
Daylight broke with scattered branches all about, but my tent…and life intact.
Slowly we packed up and headed out planning to stop at a bakery in Napoleon, our nights stay only to find it closed on a beautiful Sunday morning.
Instead we dropped into the town’s single Cafe where I found, not too surprised, the same group of men I met three years before …in this very spot…at the same table…in the same chairs. They recalled me talking with them about crops back home, smiled from deep inside, and agreed to a “follow up three year later” photo op.
As I left we shook hands and even shared a single hug from these people who really make America Great.
Over the Plains we rode towards the Missouri River
and Bismarck our nights stay and a well deserved rest day tomorrow at the home of an MS patient.
The green fields go on forever mixed with yellow Rape Seed.
We are lucky today, no wind, warm but not hot temperatures, and a mild North Wind only part of the way.
As I ride, still tired from yesterday, I begin to get blue and increasingly fatigued. I start thinking back to three years ago on this very road where rain, 20 mph headwinds and climbs brought me to the brink of quitting on Moffitt Road 20 miles before Bismarck. Flossie sends her friends to remind me of this day…
Suddenly ahead of me is that very hill and I realize so crystal clear what happened that day to me, the same thing that happened to me yesterday on the way to Napoleon.
And that realization? That there is nothing left to give…the Brillo Pad has scoured my Soul clean.
This trip begins with months of training to get the body ready for the ride. New England proves that training is never enough as muscles tighten and grow. New York and the Midwest offer the long, long rides to challenge those legs of steel. And then comes the Mississippi River with 10 days of rolling bluffs to prove that the Hills of New England were not enough. Minnesota lulls one asleep with long easy bike paths and a warm glowing sun…the Calm before the Storm.
And then a rude awakening…South Dakota with Winds, Hills, Heat, Rain, Thunder, Lightening, and Long Lonely rides through miles of uninhabited Great Plains. Half way through, this State has stripped away any illusion of competence and leaves me a bare essence with nothing left to spare. Vulnerable but scoured clean…
I know what comes now…pure survival through the Badlands and Eastern Montana but this is where the Soul is reborn day by day through the Western Great Plains…
Pink Belly and All, with Angel and Flossie in tow, after a day of rest, I will again start my trek West, always West….to the Road to the Sun, to the Glory of the Cascades as we approach the last climb, Mount Washington, the Staircase to the Stars.