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Friday, June 12, 2009

Just a little bit different

A few days ago I looked over at my dad and absentmindedly said, "When I get back to the states..." Today while sitting exhaustedly at the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area Visitor Center, my dad looked at me bewilderedly and noted, "I just had a moment when I felt like I was in a different country." This feeling has occurred to me several times while on this trip. And I think it is attributable to more than the cultural differences between the North and the South. I think it is us. We are spending everyday on a tandem bicycle averaging around 85 miles a day, wearing spandex and matching jerseys. We are the ones who don't fit in. Doing something like this, so out of the ordinary from average citizens makes us essentially representatives of a different country--Biketopia. My dad's breaking point at the visitor center occurred after witnessing several able-bodied people use the handicapped button to open the door for them. There is no handicap button for our bicycle. Our legs have to keep pedaling even when our minds want to stop. We speak about chains and derailers and sore butts. We don't interact with many people besides each other. And when we do... it is usually about the weather or how beautiful their land is. We are living in our own little subculture that makes us foreign wherever we go. People look at us funny. We sometimes have trouble communicating with the people we are talking to. We are just a little bit different.

Yesterday night and tonight are quite possibly the most comfortable nights of the trip thus far. Last night was spent at the Nolan House B and B with the jovial owner, Patrick. Patrick collects antique tractors, gave lectures on Jesse James at the local historical society and enjoys drag racing. He gave us a fabulous history lesson about the B and B and provided us witha fantastic breakfast spread at 6:30 this morning--that is service. Patrick's laughter was effusive and got us through many a hard patches in our 90 mile bike ride today. The true bait that kept us pedaling onward was knowing that my Uncle George would pick us up at the end of our ride and take us for a night in Carbondale, IL.

When his truck pulled up, my legs surrendered and my heart fluttered. Don't get me wrong. I am absolutely loving this trip, but a day off in the comfort of family was quite appealing. Surprisingly, I found the 90 mile trip in George's truck to be one of the more anxious moments of my past several days. I haven't exactly been riding at 70 mph. The speed terrified me. But, I just sat quietly in the back aware of how ridiculous my fear was. Upon arriving at a home cooked meal, I was more excited to be out of an automobile than in a house. Still, the food smelled great, and it was nice to launch into conversations with more than just my dad... though my dad is a superb conversationalist. Still, I feel a little uneasy. I feel a little guilt even. Shouldn't I be in a sleazy motel right now? Shoudn't I have my stuff tidily stacked ready to be packed and on the bike by 7?

What's that you say? My aunt got me a massage appointment for tomorrow? I can sleep in? I have time to get caught up on work? Oh my. I guess I'm back in America. The reprieve is nice. But, I'm glad we aren't done. I could use another week in Biketopia.


  1. Biketopia isn't a place, it's a state of mind!

    Thanks so much for the wonderful blog posts, what a great read!

  2. This is a great blog. This bit about the door... it reminds me of watching healthy people circle the Kroger parking lot for 20 minutes in order to avoid an extra 20 yards.


  3. It was wonderful for us to be a part of your blog and bike trip memories. I loved the talks and just having you both around. Happy pedaling and just bike by anytime you are in the neighborhood.