Here is our crew from 25 years ago during a stop in Michigan. When we reached Yellowstone National Park, three of us (Mr. Lime, Gus, and I) had to leave the rest of the group and take a more direct route to our destination. Just after we left another guy (Gerry) joined the group, thus he is not in this picture. Over the years we've had limited contact with most folks in the group. Happily though, for the reunion all but two of us were able to attend. Missing from the reunion were Kristen, on the far left, and Gus, in the black shirt next to me.
Twenty-five years ago my job in the group, since I didn't do the pedaling, was to drive the car carrying supplies, cook the meals, do the laundry, and find a place to stay each night. The first morning at the reunion I sort of fell into one of my old jobs again. Back in the day I did the cooking with virtually no help. This time around several folks worked together to get the meals on the table. That was a nice change. Although we were a single group in theory, there were two subgroups based on half the crew starting the trip in New Jersey and later meeting the other half in Pennsylvania. The NJ crew was a bit more independent in some ways and relied less on the support vehicle. All these years later several of them said they had no idea how much I had actually done at the time. I wasn't looking for it in any way and was surprised when it came, but I got a belated thank-you for being "the mom" from the NJ group. I appreciated it.
Back in 1986 we had lots of laughs with a measuring tape. This time around it was a bottle of ketchup providing the chuckles. Yes, we know how to make our own fun with some of the strangest items.
When we made our cross-country trek we had flat tires. This time around, even during a comparatively short ride to tour the local microbreweries we had a tire with a slow leak which required several stops to pump it up. Once we got to the first pub we were able to repair it properly. It was really wonderful that our host was able to organize borrowing enough bicycles to give us each one to be able to have a commemorative ride together.
All those years ago we were all single and without children. However, two marriages occurred within the group and most of us have children. What was interesting to note is the common theme of adventure and unconventional choices and deliberate lifestyles among the group members. I suppose that shouldn't be surprising given that a 4000-5000 mile bicycle tour of the US is what brought us all together in the first place but that it was sustained to greater or lesser degrees by all of us was kind of reaffirming to me. There was extended wandering for some before settling down. Others settled down early but in unusual settings (overseas, in tents, or intentionally small homes so there was money for extensive travel). There's been a lot of heartbreak and adversity faced by the members of our group, and yet there has been perseverance and endurance as well. I can't help but think perhaps those qualities that were necessary to carry us across a continent were what helped us each find a way to carry on through trials.
Last week in Colorado we convened from all over the US and UK. We decided to recreate one of our old pictures that was used in a newspaper article (the first one in this post is almost the same as the newspaper shot, I just don't have a scanner to be able to reproduce that). Gerry replaces Gus. Gerry's and Trish's daughter replaces Kristen. We relived memories, shared perspectives, and caught up with so much that has gone on with each other over the years. We laughed and cried together, we got on each others nerves and we worked together for the well-being of the group. Folks drifted in and out of the gathering at different times and in different ways, much like we did 25 years ago but the 10 out of 12 of us who showed up all recognized that over the decades and over the the great distances we are all grateful to be a part of this group.