Saturday, June 6, 2009

"Oh and then they gave me a purple heart"

Day 4 - June 6th

First Day of Riding today. 37 miles from Providence, RI to Plainfield, Connecticut.

We all stopped at the Narangasset Boat club to dip our tires, be surrounded by overeager parents, and generally feel good about ourselves. It was a fun little ceremony. Saw mom and dad there, who aside from heaping amounts of love gave me a proper pillow. Perhaps my sleep has some hope.

The whole way the ride itself felt like just another training run. Its hard to understand that we are going one way all the way. Right next to the state border sign introducing Connecticut was a huge cemetery. Talk about a warm welcome...

The ride was decent with some awesome sights along the way including an amazing reservoir(which i believe goes all the way to my faucet in nyc) and some great rural scenery. The highlight though goes to a MONSTER hill at the very end of our ride where I clocked my all time high of 40.2 mph. It was awesomesauce.

At St. Paul's Episcopal Church we were yet again met with unbelievable hospitality. Upon my humble request for a tailor in town to fix one of the pouches on my luggage bag, one church member called another and before I knew it the amazing Linda(who just happened to be a professional seamstress) totally pimped out my entire bag. We're talking reinforced zigzag stitches everywhere, even on the pouches that weren't ripped. Thank you Linda!
At the dinner there was also this interesting looking fellow who I decided to sit next to. Within the first minute of conversation, I found out he had been a church member for all 84 years of his life. Highlight of dinner was Linda's amazing Mac and Cheese with corn recipe that her husband Ernie had found in a tractor magazine! Over dinner I also overheard that Charlie had played lots of sports when he was younger, including baseball.

I love baseball and approached him later about this looking for some casual conversation and this is where stuff got crazy. It turns out that not only did he play several varsity sports simultaneously, taking the places of students 2 years older than him, he had also been asked to go to a St. Louis Cardinal's tryout. But wait, he couldnt do this because he was instead required to show up for an army physical.

A couple of months later he's in the frontlines of WW2 Germany fighting for his life, sleeping in ditches in ten degree weather with snow. Wasn't long before he got caught by a mortar and had shrapnel in his legs. He survived and recovered fully. Oh and by the way he casually earned a Purple Heart, you know, no biggie. And all of that from an unassuming cheery 84 year old man who doesnt exactly run up stairs. Oh and Linda casually reminded me that many of his state athletic records remain untouched.

Honestly its people like Linda, Charlie, and Robin(from Providence) that make every single day so unbelievably exciting. These people have led such amazing lives and you would never know it. Plus seeing the excitement in their eyes when we talk about what bike and build does is unbelievable.I can't wait to keep on meeting so many cool people.

Today I also started another pledge to do at least as many pushups as miles cycled that day, given i remain injury free. Would i mind a little bit of tanned rippedness at the end of the summer? Hmm...

56 miles to Middlefield, CT tomorrow and we're not even at the Appalachians.

Swivel, don't push

Day 3 - June 5

Am not quite adjusting to sleeping on hardwood floors yet, but getting there. Had our first of ten build days today. Arrived to an empty foundation and left having almost all of the floorboards in place. Effectively hammering a nail in is easily like top 10 feelings in life. Seriously. Always hold as low on the handle as possible and make sure to swing with the wrist rather than push with the arm, and you too can experience such nirvana. No powertools yet, but that time will come.

Bought an awesome super neon yellow windjacket at the shop. It may or may not have legally blinded some drivers on the way back.

Also stopped by our friend Robin's unique pet store, Plaid & Stripe. It had some super cool and funny things in it. Just when i think this guy cant be any cooler he then shows us his amazing vintage circus poster collection! Apparently there are upwards of 15,000 dogs in Providence but only 1,200 are registered which has serious effects of , and Providence Barks(insert link) is his advocacy effort to push for greater recognition of the pet owning population in Providence.

The wonderful people at St. Martin's church again treated us to an amazing potluck dinner tonight, and my hopes for actually gaining weight on the trip momentarily flared up. Their kindness, support, and enthusiasm have just been awe inspiring. I look forward to meeting more great people like them.

It's so odd how us riders only been with each other for two days but are already ridiculously close and friendly. It's great. Tomorrow we officially kick off. We'll dip our tires in the Atlantic Ocean and then start our first day of riding. On Aug 13, we'll complete our journey by dipping into the Pacific. Nothing like symbolism to inspire a sense of accomplishment...

Plaid and Stripe

Day 2 - June 4

Went on first ride in two weeks(20 miler) along the most scenic bike path ive ever seen. at one point we had water on both sides of us while we rode along a thin strip of land, with a lighthouse to our right. Being on the bike felt amazing and the scenery made me yell in delight several times.

Immediately after i took my first ever group shower. Talk about comfort zones... Totally not a big deal, looking forward to more, in a hygienic sense that is.

We woke up at 6:30am and the day legit just didnt want to end. Just as my hunger almost won out, we arrived at the potluck barbeque the members of St. Martins church threw for us. Burgers for 32 starving people, and 3 alone for me, well these people are wonderful to say the least.

One charming person in particular was Robin, owner and proprieter of Plaid & Stripe. The dude is from Greeenwich village, so atuomatically legit. His "woof" cap though and two beagles, and awesome yellow rimmed spectacles were just the tip of his awesomeness. He described his store by explaining how one of his products is a fortune cookie for dogs that says inside, " One dog's poop is another dog's patte". Super cool, i think yes. He enthusiastically invited us to the store tomorrow, so that is definitely happening.

First build day is tomorrow, cant wait to put in those nails...

Day One

Day 1 - June 3rd

First day of orientation today. typical awkward conversation for first two hours(which is always wonderful) but group is already bonding. Its really hard to comprehend what kind of awesomeness lies ahead of us. It's really surreal. One of the major things Im pumped about is to let you all know whats going on here on the road. Honestly, even if you'd rather not go on a bike treadmill for 70 miles a day as a show of solidarity I am so excited that you're reading this. Also, I can't even begin to explain how unbelievably grateful I am to all the donors who have made this possible for me.

Basically, for me Bike and Build represents a larger, more recent life objective of mine of pushing myself for more. Whether it be more physical accomplishment, open-mindedness, food, whatever. The ongoing goal is to stretch my comfort zone and see what happens. Fittingly, i spontaneously decided to eat an entire apple today, core and all. It was just fine and I don't think I'll ever go back to throwing out the core. Thank you to my FOP training trip leader Charlie Ryland for planting the seed in my mind last year. Sorry for that pun.

I've never kept a journal and in the line of pushing myself I would like this journey to be my first adventure into this field. Thus my goal is to journal each and every day of this trip. I definitely believe in living the moment and not thinking too hard about it, but want to use this as a way to help me fully process all of the cool things I'll be experiencing and as a means of deeper self reflection.

I'll focus on short and sweet posts laying out some highlights and interesting thoughts of each day. They'll be written daily but may be delayed in posting due to spotty internet coverage. I hope you enjoy them and can take away some interesting ideas of your own. Cool, off to my cozy church basement floor!