Today’s Route – Annandale NJ to the Atlantic Ocean
Rob, Chuck, and I rode 78 miles from Annandale NJ to the Atlantic Ocean in what was supposed to be a pleasant, last ride on The Moxie Ride. Instead, it was like everything else in NJ – intense.
At one point my Garmin read 116 degrees! I felt like I was riding through a campfire – the humidity was thick and the sun was scorching. Every 5 miles we stopped at a gas station or the RV to refill our bottles with ice cold water, which we could not drink fast enough. It was so hot that when I left my bike leaned up against the RV during a water break, some of the blacktop literally melted onto my tire. And when we found a sprinkler system at a park, we had to run through it.
Calamity of Errors
The easiest thing about today was the mileage. 78 miles felt effortless. It was the calamity of errors that made today a disagreeable, tough day on the ride. Individually, manageable; collectively, maddening and wearisome. First, the humidity and heat at 7am that didn’t cease until 8pm. Then Rob’s flat tire before we even left the campground. From there we navigated through NJ traffic and confusing routes, got lost 3 times, fixed my chain that had fallen off, worried about Chuck who got overheated at mile 50, cycled for miles on milled-for-repavement roads, and scratched furiously the bug bites from mosquitoes that gnawed on our skin at 17 mph (tough NJ mosquitoes!) causing our arms and legs to itch insanely.
Shout out for the Riddles 4! Our great friends and neighbors, the Riddles, waited eagerly and enthusiastically to greet us at the ocean when we arrived. They brought champagne, ice cold water, food, and Welcome Home signs. After a calamitous day, their cheerful faces were food for the weary soul. Because of their genuine and selfless joy and applause for me, I celebrated, for the first time all day, the significance of reaching the ocean.
When Chuck arrived at the campsite last night, Justin put a microphone in his face. Chuck laughed, “I saw this coming.” Chuck has been a Systems Engineer for AT&T since 1982. What he loves about it is the brain power he has collected over the years. He knows people he met in 1982 who he has worked with on various projects, and he still collaborates with them regularly to solve problems.
When Stu arrived at the campsite last night to drop off Rob, Chuck, Jack, and Carly, Justin turned the camera on him. Stu said, “Can’t believe I didn’t see this coming!” Stu is a morning cyclist with us, a business owner, and a firefighter. When we asked him about being a firefighter, Stu said he loves that it connects him profoundly to the community. And as the Captain, he works to influence his team’s success by modeling for them a positive and collaborative approach.
As my friend Caren said, it’s been such a big day, that it’s taking a while to wrap my head (and my soul) around it. Thinking about the lessons I’ve learned over the past 9 weeks has been tremendously helpful as I process the end. Here are a few more lessons I observed today to add to the list I started on Day 61:
- I have an amazing family and unbelievable friends. Rob and Chuck took the day off of work. Jack and Carly took the day off of summer. The Riddles held on to the end to celebrate our arrival at the ocean. Other friends were planning on being there had we not phoned them to go home on account of being so late. My mom called me first thing this morning to double gush today. And numerous friends – old and new – texted and emailed throughout the day with “Congratulations!”
- Petulance is just a mask for unidentified emotions. I was petulant from the moment I woke up today. Grouchy and snappish. I didn’t decipher it until much later that it stemmed from the reality that today was the last day of the Moxie Ride. Instead of joyously celebrating a huge accomplishment, I was busy being intense and irritable. I can’t imagine what I would have been like had Rob and Chuck not been cycling with me to laugh about the calamities, and if Jack and Carly had not been with us today to cheer at each break in spite of the less-than-exciting hours they spent in the RV.
- I love having people cheer for me. Whether it was comments on the blog, emails, texts, phone calls, cards, or the Riddles at the finish line, I absolutely loved the applause. It kept me writing and riding for 4,240 miles. Knowing how much it nourished me, I will look for ways to joyfully, genuinely, and selflessly applaud others more often.
- I’m stronger than I ever imagined. As I’ve shared in previous blogs, I did not start this ride as strong as I am now. I became strong not by training for the ride, but by doing the ride. The mountains I scaled, the miles I rode, the wind I battled, the monotony I fought, the fears I overcame, the excuses I conquered. All told, I astounded myself.
- I’m glad I didn’t wait another 20 years. I waited 20 years to do this ride. I have no regrets about what I chose to do instead over the years. I’m just elated that I didn’t wait another 20 years and risk any future regrets.
Day 68 Stats
Day 68 miles: 78.17 miles
Day 68 ascent: 2,552 feet
Day 68 descent: 2,713 feet (my current elevation is 78 feet- a far cry from my peak at 11,300 in Colorado)
Total interviews: 108
Final Road Kill Count: 2,058
(Added only 12 today. Here’s my theory about the low road kill count in NJ these past two days. There just aren’t any animals left to run over. They’ve been eliminated by urban sprawl, toxic waste, or intense drivers. All that’s left are carnivorous mosquitoes.) (I’ll announce the winners tomorrow….stay tuned!)