The winds were ferocious off the lake and bitter cold. Mid February at 5 AM walking on top of 3 feet of frozen snow to a VA hospital in west Chicago for morning rounds…my last year of Medical School. At that moment I vowed to move South but where? It flashed through my mind… I always won at monopoly if I could get the three green squares. Pacific was to vague, PA too cold but NC sounded just right. And so 4 months later I moved never to leave.
Today I part early from Wilmington to head to the outer islands again, the first Topsail where I was introduced to the NC coast so many years ago. I was excited to see the draw bridge to the island and miles of clean white sand. A tail wind sped me on my way. As I approached the coast I noticed more stores than I recalled and wondered at the expanse of building before me.
5 miles later looking forward to a slow draw bridge instead I encountered a massive 2 mile spans 300-400 feet high. I pedaled to the top and looked out over the island to see hundreds of homes had crept in. I was stunned.
To the South rain clouds …so there wasn’t time to consider the change. The rains hit almost immediately and for the next twenty miles I became drenched to the bone in a warm spring rain.
At the north end of the island the winds were so strong I feared being blown into the sound. Safely across I found a McDonalds which had sprung up from the swamp …tried to get breakfast but was 5 minutes late.
I sat there dripping and composed myself while the staff made it clear my wet rags and bike were not welcome there.
I left feeling sorry for myself and pedaled on to the highway
leading to Jacksonville our nights stay.
Not far down the road I found a gas station with breakfast food …the staff said it was ok to come in and sit down.
While drinking my coffee and eating a mystery meat cheese croissant my drippings totally soaked the floor. Feeling sorry for myself suddenly in front of me was a 10$ bill.
I looked up to see a weather beaten young man.
“ Thank you for riding, my wife has MS. She is out in the car, will you please go talk to her”.
In an old brown van sat a young woman with giant light blue eyes. I approached her and she smiled. “ I dont feel too well, riding in a car makes me dizzy from my MS…my husband went to get me a drink. Thank you so much for riding as you do.”
I told her of my planned trip and how much I had raised…tears filled her eyes and she thanked me again. She refused to tell me her name and wanted the donation from her husband to be anonymous. I took her hand and held it for a minute, wished her well and she smiled through her still flowing eyes.
I turned…and suddenly …there was no rain or clouds but only blue skies …”not possible “ I thought “how did that happen just now?”
Angel whispered gently in my ear “ Just to remind why you ride again”…
I dedicated the next 16 miles to a young woman with MS whose name I don’t know who most likely I will never see again…