Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Bike Trip Tuesday #2-The Riders
I thought this week I'd introduce you to the group of folks who were on the bicycle trip. Going from left to right:
Greg was part of the local group. He was the free-est of the free spirits. I believe he was one of the originators of the trip idea and he was the one who somehow linked us up with the other 5 who were from all over the place. He definitely marched (or rode) to the beat of his own drummer. He was laid back and generally unconcerned by whether or not others thought he was odd. He demonstrated this most notably by walking into a biker bar (motorcycles, not bicycles) while wearing tight bike shorts, penny loafers, his helmet, thick glasses, and a wrap around pleather jacket and promptly ordering a soda.
Kristen was also part of the local group and among the most regimented of us. She liked to plan as much out as far in advance as possible. She helped keep us all on track. We helped her completely loose her mind. The group was divided clearly into morning bikers and evening bikers. She was among those who rose before dawn to ride early and therefore among the first in camp at night to begin hounding me about how soon dinner would be. She cared deeply about each one of us in the group and wanted to make sure the group was functioning well.
Gus was another member of the local group although he hailed from Paraguay (yes, my old time readers may recall the story of the duelling Paraguayan, this is him). He was THE most regimented of the group and the other driver of the support vehicle. He had a very military bearing about him and was inclined to be very very precise in all matters. Someone decided I should not be driving the car alone and thought Gus would be good company or protection or assistance and invited him. He was excellent protection and assistance. Our two very opposite personalities being confined to a Chevy Citation for a summer was shall we say an interesting blend. We had been friends before the trip. I think it is fair to say we grew to despise each other during the trip. By the end we made amends and I'd like to think we learned from each other.
Mr. Lime was a member of the local group and one of the arrangers of the whole thing. He was also one of the people who had the idea of making it a way to raise money for charitable causes. He's also the one who invited me to be the lackey of the group....because we were sweet on each other. Hahahaha. Now, we had not really dated in a romantic sense before this trip. We had been best buddies who hiked, and backpacked, and spelunked, and rock climbed together. We spent a lot of time together but had only recently decided we liked each other in more than a friendly sense right before this trip. This would prove a very maddening dynamic for the 65 days we spent crossing the continent.
Mike was from upstate New York and part of the grafted in group. He was a very intelligent and extremely dry-witted guy. He was also the fellow who each evening tended to map out our course for the next day. We had a general route we were following but he was charged with plotting the specifics each day since he seemed to have a knack for it. Often Pete would offer suggestions and between the two of them they were able to figure out a route that helped us make enough progress and yet not be horribly exhausting for the riders. We averaged about 70 miles a day.
Me...what do you really need to know here? As I said, I was only 18, the youngest of the group. I had just finished my freshman year of college. Up until this point I had grown up in a very homogeneous little town in SE Pennsylvania...so homogeneous I was considered an exotic because I am half Greek (read that as 'dark'). I had been to New Jersey every summer, Florida once, Texas once and just a few months before had travelled with 6 people in January to Kentucky in that rattletrap VW bus you see to the left. I had my driver's license less than a year. I was very green but I knew how to cook and clean.
Pete was the oldest of the group at 28 and from Colorado. He would become my big brother. He was incredibly wise and seemed to really be able to zero in on what everyone was thinking and feeling even when they couldn't or wouldn't. He had a very gentle spirit and was a tremendous listener. He was also the one person who had made this trip in this way before so his experience really benefited us all in so many ways. He was also an incredible musician and brought his mandolin along. Many nights after we'd all eaten and were relaxing he'd either play for the group or he'd slip off quietly and play by himself, sometimes on the mandolin, or since we were in a lot of churches, sometimes on a piano. He'd soothe himself with each note and many times I'd find some dark corner where I could hear his music without disturbing him so I could be soothed as well.
Christy was another member of the local group. She was the bubbliest girl you could ever hope to meet. She was sweet and cheery and always had a smile and a laugh. Often when Pete played she could be found singing into her bike pump and dancing next to him. She was such an asset to the group in her ability to help us all lighten up when things got tense. This picture was taken the first time we all met each other and it is no coincidence that she was way over with the 'new' folks. she was the one who really helped the two groups to mesh into one because of her sunny and outgoing disposition. I was just so thankful she was a part of the group.
Tricia was a nurse from England. She was all business all the time. I'd have to say she is the person I got to know the least because I just didn't know how to connect with her. She, along with Tom, would bike their 70 miles a day, pull into camp and commence with their daily workout. That's right, pedalling 70 miles on a bicycle was not exercise enough. They go through their regimen of hundreds of push ups, chin ups, and crunches AFTER that ride. I swear you could bounce quarters off her belly. The woman was a machine. She seemed kind of aloof to me, maybe I was just afraid she'd crush my (by comparison) soft and flabby self if I dared approach her. When I got over my trepidation enough to sit and talk with her I did find a very intelligent and funny woman there who had a gentle and nurturing side.
Del was the 11th child of 17 in a family of Iowa hog farmers. As I mentioned last week he was the most easy going and the only fellow on the trip who never seemed bothered at any point by living in close quarters. He had a great sense of humor and a quiet unassuming way about him. He just ambled along happily and I think sometimes took great amusement in watching the rest of us grind at each other. He was a terrific storyteller and could get the group in stitches with tales of his family and the life of a hog farmer.
Tom was from Texas and, as mentioned, Tricia's hard bodied sidekick. Whereas she seemed to be all business, and he definitely was no slouch there with all that crazed exercising, he had a more approachable manner. He also had a very silly side that showed often. Just imagine a three stooges sense of humor in a GQ body but over it all maintain a southern gentleman's kindness. As favored as he was in looks and charm, the guy was absolutely plagued by bike problems. He constantly had flat tires and mechanical problems. I think he could have single-handedly kept the patch kit business solvent.
So there you have it...what a divergent group of crazies huh? Tune in next week for more...