Posted by: Mark Wollemann: On the move | August 20, 2016

Days 61-65: Almost done! All the feels.

Days 61-65
Destination: Denton, Md.
Three-day riding mileage: 145. Total: 3,604

Washington monument

On Friday, I rode through D.C. and on to Annapolis and near the Bay Bridge. Lots of images on the GoPro, but this is one that Melody took before I headed out.

Tomorrow is it. I ride from Denton to the Delaware shore — Bethany Beach, to be specific. It’ll be a 60-mile ride, give or take. That’ll leave me just shy of 3,700 miles — and then it’ll be over. Just. Like. That.

 

I’ve tried really hard during these past 65 days to avoid thinking about “the last day.” Even though the destination is what this has been about. When I set out on June 13, after dipping my bike’s rear tire into the chilly Pacific Ocean at Winchester Bay, Oregon, I knew this would be a long ride. If I started thinking about “how I’d feel” on the last day I don’t think I would have made it. The trick was taking this in small chunks. Days at a time. Then states. Then 500 or then 1,000 miles. Each day, building on the previous one. Step by step.

Then Melody asked me this morning, with the camera running, how I’m going to feel when I finally — at long last — reach the shore. And I choked. Well, I choked up. Because I finally allowed myself to think about how goddamned amazing this trip has been. Tears welled up in my eyes as I tried to envision those last pedal strokes before I pick up my bike and charge across the sand to the Atlantic Ocean. It’s going to feel good.

I’m going to be proud of myself. I can allow myself that much. But I’m so happy that I got to share this with Melody, keeper of the 55andalive page and so much more. She’s been an indomitable spirit throughout this whole thing. So many people have told me how lucky I am to be married to such an amazing woman. But I know that. I’ve known it all along. Almost 30 years now and she continues to sizzle with life and energy and passion for whatever comes her way. Without her, there’s no me. Without her, this ride might not happen. Without her, there’s no guarantee I finish, even if I had managed to start. She’s that important to this endeavor. It has been a true team effort.

Melody motor lodge kiss

In case there was any doubt: Melody is, indeed, No. 1.

I won’t list, chapter and verse, all that she’s done. She’s done it all. I just did the biking part. But when we’re old and gray (or older and, at least for my part, grayer), this will join the many highlights of the life I’ve been lucky enough to share with this woman.

 

Anyway, when she asked me how I’ll feel tomorrow afternoon when this is all over, I think I managed to gurgle out something approximating this: I’m going to feel proud. I’m going to feel happy. I’m going to feel relief. I worry there are parts of my body that will never be the same. Two fingers on my right hand have been numb for more than a week. My neck is a little sore and fatigued (I blame the GoPro helmet-mounted camera). And my, um, under-carriage might need days of soaking in salt water to begin to approach healing. Beyond that, though, I feel pretty good. My legs feel great. My feet haven’t gotten sore from the pedal clips. I sleep great every night and wake up eager to chase the day when it dawns. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel at this point, but I have to admit that I feel better than I thought I’d feel.

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I have lost about 18 pounds (confirmed by two different scales). Aw, hell, let’s call it 20. Considering how poorly I’ve eaten (the pie and ice cream, for one, but there has been plenty more — and worse for me than that, I’m sure), I’m a little surprised by this. I’d guess my cholesterol might have spiked a little, but hopefully I can work on that in the weeks to come. I’m going to have to wean myself off the eating habits I’ve picked up these past few months. But that’s OK. It’s on to the next challenge anyway. Maybe I’ll make it a healthy-eating challenge.

I’m a little nervous about what comes next. I need to immediately start looking for work. I’ve made some early inquiries in various quarters about that. I’ll keep plugging away. If you know of anyone who’s hiring, let me know. We’ll be happy to relocate from Chicago if that’s what it takes. I don’t think we can afford to do freelance anymore. I need a job-job for any number of reasons. I’m sure my dad will celebrate reading that last sentence. He’s been urging me to get a “real job” certainly since before this bike ride, but I think I can safely say his protestations have been going on for a few years now. Hi, Dad.

Knowing, however, that I have that amazing Melody at my side, though, fills me with confidence and calm as we head toward a new adventure — whatever that might be.

Oh, and I’m buying a new bike. A Surly Long-Haul Trucker. First, if I’m going to do any more touring, and I plan to, I don’t think I’ll be lucky enough to have Melody around to tote my stuff for me. I’ll be on my own, so I need a workhorse bike, one that can carry a heavy load. So, what you may ask, is on my agenda for the future? Well, I’m glad you asked. I’m thinking about riding around Lake Michigan with a bunch of people next summer. I’ve talked to a few people about this already. It’s only 1,000 miles or so. Who’s up?

***
And, as always, please keep checking in on Melody’s witty posts, beautiful photos and some short videos at 55andalive.com. Once we get off this mad ride, I’d expect Melody will finally find the time to start break down all the hours of video we’ve been accumulating this summer. Another big lift by the master storyteller.

 

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Responses

  1. Chapeaux to you and Melody. What a great adventure. And please oh please somebody offer Mark a job in the Twin Cities.

  2. Have been waiting for this day! So proud of you for accomplishing this adventure that you told us about and we just scoffed at the idea. But when you started we were with you and Melody all the way. Can’t wait to hug you both real soon.

  3. I’m sad for your amazing ride to come to an end as I have loved following your journey. But, I am so proud of you for completing this amazing achievement. You and melody amaze me as you go from one incredible adventure to another. Let’s celebrate your success and homecoming when you return to Chicago! Xo

  4. Congratulations, Mark and Melody! Thanks for taking us along for the ride! Best of luck to you!

  5. I’m guessing as I’m writing this you’re well on your way on this last lap. Congrats! I’m so impressed. We all have dreams and aspirations, but it’s so easy to let life get in the way of living… You and Melody have certainly not done that. I’m sure the post ride emotions will be mixed. I hope you celebrate well. Thank you for sharing this journey. I looked forward to reading each day.
    Cheers!


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