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...

18 comments:

G-Man said...

Well, do you still keep in touch with all of them? After that epic ride, it would seem that you would be bonded together for life....
You so cute Limey...xoxox

David said...

What about the red bus in the picture? Did you think I was going to miss that?

Charles said...

Yeah say what you will about how others kept the group together, we see who is in the middle stretching to bring the two sides of the group together. You're special, we know it.
Good morning to you.

Hypersonic said...

So there were no rings involved and hairy old men who could blow incredible smoke rings? Were you sent on this quest by a half-elven king? What here your hit points? Am I confusing this with something else? Shit!! Let me go lie down for a while, it was the sight of your nekkid knees what did it!

jillie said...

That would be great to have a reunion ride...ok, maybe not a ride but a reunion party and listen to everyone talk about their favorite moment. Great story and love the picture. Oh to have been a fly on the tent wall...ok, maybe not.

ttfootball said...

HAHAHA no rings involved haha

I'm enjoying this one Lime. Its the diversity that makes it fun/annoying/all that good stuff hehe. Reminds me of one of my soccer teams in Costa Rica.

Are you going to put all the "episodes" together in the end and make a book? ;-)

Phaedrous said...

Quite a group, and quite a trip. NPI

Lacquer, Semi-Gloss Lacquer said...

..I think I'm going to enjoy this...

chikken said...

OMG-what a great story. I have to do some work, but am coming back to finish reading this...these people are interesting. 11th child of 17 from hog farmers? COOL.

Back soon.

Mwah,
C

Paul Champagne said...

You have successfully set the scene, and flushed out the characters and we are now ready for this epic adventure ... let the peddling begin.

M said...

ok...from your description, i am in love with Greg...well, crushing at least. i mean who wouldn't love a guy who walks into a biker bar in biker shorts.

no kidding, is Greg single? how old is he now? is he still a free spirit?

bsoholic said...

Haha, awesome! Quite the eclectic group. I am looking forward to hearing more stories about this group and events.

lime said...

gman, i am sad to say that side from being married to mr lime i am only in touch with one other member of the group. we all seemed to be far to peripatetic to keep the same address long enough to stay in contact over the years.

david, i knew better ;) 69 VW bus there she belonged to Mr. Lime and i loved her. i was very sad the day she died.

charles, you are really too kind. i hadn't thought of it that way. thank you

hypersonic, LOL, good one...there were times....

jillie, since this may was the 20th anniversary of satrting the trip i've thought it would be very cool to track folks down...

tt, i hadn't planned on a 'book.' just going to blog liek we rode...a destination in mind but how we get there may vary and have some bumps, twists, turns and surprises.

phaed, it was quite the experience. NPI? what's that mean?

lacquer, i hope you do ;)


chikken, del was a hoot. that boy cracked me up every single day.

paul, i hope you're in good shape ;)

m, he'd be about 42 or 43 by now. i have absolutely no idea where he is or what he is doing. he talked about biking to alaska after this trip. i'd not be at all surprised if he had.

bs, i hope you enjoy subsequent installments

Breazy said...

You know, not a lot of people can say that have experienced something like that! I bet it was fun! Do you keep in touch with any of the group?

Hope your day is going good!

SignGurl said...

I admire you for being such a young person and taking on this conquest. How much fun must that have been? Hopefully, we are all going to know :)

cathy said...

I hope I am still here for the next installment of this story.
We leave Athens when the schools close and move to the seaside for the summer.

Speaking of stories I have started a new blog for a ficticious story and would love you to be one of my critics. If you are interested I will need an email address to add you to the readers list.

Hope I catch the rest of your bike post before I go away.

MONA said...

Lime! I thought as much..that you were greek somewhere! your babies names spell it!

& I am ALSO waiting for your post partum post

Moosekahl said...

Sounds like I group I would love to meet but they would be burying me at a roadside service after the first day of 70 miles! 70 miles in one day, every day? Insane...