For the past 8 years I have worked in a clinic where birthdays of staff are regularly celebrated. A  calendar announces the day a month in advance. For 8 years I have never been included on the calendar. I shyly asked once about this a few years ago. The response…”Well…it’s because you are ageless”.

Herodotus first described the Fountain of Youth 3000 years ago. Alexander the Great sought it out on his conquest of Western Asia ( he died in his thirties). 

Medieval literature abounds with references but it is Ponce de Leon who cemented it in the minds of Westerners. In 1513 from Puerto Rico he explored the east coast of Florida where eventually St. Augustines was established becoming the oldest inhabitation by Westerners on this continent.

By the way Ponce de Leon died 8 years later at a young age with a poisoned arrow sticking out of his thigh. 

My parents lived full lives but not particularly long. My mother, who took minimal care of herself , had already had 20 strokes by my present age and my father was well on his way to alcoholic dementia and a slow slow decline. I have been more careful with my body and soul than they had. Tomorrow this “ageless one” will be traveling to St Augustines, the city which claims to own the Fountain of Youth. My trip, if one is to believe the staff at work, is like “Taking Coals to Newcastle”. 

I’m not sure that the Fountain of Youth is found on some Greek island, some Persian plateau or in the swamps of southeast America. I think rather it is found deep down inside wherein live our most cherished thoughts and feelings…a place where Flossie and Angel live in peace and solitude most of the time. Thank goodness they come out to join me on these rides. 

I have come to know my body and soul over the years. I know my limits of riding in terms of water, food, and rest needs. I am aware that I must drink a liter every 10 miles, eat at 52 miles, and rest at 84. I know that I get tired at 4500 miles. I have adjusted my training for the 6900 to come over the next 16 weeks. More importantly I know to keep the white rabbit in his hat, out for only a rare occurrence. I don’t mind the solitude of long-distance riding. It fits my introverted character and allows me to ponder happenings and  surroundings. 

The ride this year is 1000 miles flat, 1800 hills and low mountains, 2500  flat, and 1600 hills and mountains again. I have mapped out the pace in my mind so to be there whole at the end. 

There is a certain amount of lunacy in this endeavor, yet  I find it cleanses my heart and soul and allows my creativity to flow…

“Easter in the Desert” painted 2023