Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Tardy Reward for a Long Ago Feat of Strength, Bravery and Foolhardiness

Here are a few more photos from the race. See the finish line. See the path into the park past the people with microphones on the right; see the promenade between the flags with the applauding people. And finally, read on and see my medal. The one I didn’t get 31 years ago when I rode the 300 miles from Eugene to Seattle. Took me five days.

Yes it’s true, I did that – all by my lonesome, on a whim, with a half-baked plan that unfolded mile by mile along with the bike-unfriendly map I carried. Not to mention a mountain of equipment – such as a tent and sleeping bag, a small stove, tools, extra inner tubes, even an extra tire -- all stuffed into and strapped onto a pair of homemade panniers I stitched together myself.

Not like these folks, sailing along on their twelve-pound bicycles with only the skimpy clothes on their bodies, and a sag-wagon full of all-you-can-eat-and-drink goodies and supplies and tools and a team of mechanics following along behind. Hello? How hard is that?

In case you’re sitting there thinking “What do you want, a medal?” the answer is yes, I do. And now I have one. See? Here it is. So don’t be telling me I’m some kind of an impostor just because I happened to be riding by a certain place at a certain time. Just because I followed along like a lemming. How did I know all that was going to happen? If someone approached you and draped a medal around your neck, what would you do? I rolled with it – just like I’d been rolling along with those cyclists. I sensed something going on, my reporter instincts rose up, and I started pushing that button on the camera that hangs permanently around my neck. My only intention was to record the event. I can’t help it if everyone started applauding and high-fiving me -- I was only trying to blend in so I could take exciting, action photos from the vantage point of the participants.

If I ever get the hare-brained idea in my head to try such an expedition again, I’m definitely doing it their way. Why kill yourself? Or get killed -- camping by the side of the road like a damn fool. As IF you’re in the mood to mess with camping equipment after ten hours on a bike. Please.

Give me a high-falutin hotel with room service, a hot-tub, and a heavenly bed.


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