I have been accused of “drinking the koolaid” of bicycle-touring Backroads (and before that,
I had the opportunity to work this ride in the Fall of 2007. Bright eyed and bushy tailed and fresh off a sweet n' easy opening season in the Canadian Rockies, I headed down to Salt lake city and then Tennessee to host 200-some odd riders in Backroads first attempt at a tour ride. Chaos ensued. I drove a van and trailer five days out, did the ride and drove five days back. I was so enchanted with the Backroads machine I'd have done anything including tattoo the company logo on my back or work 41 days both (luckily I did the least invasive of the two). I fell in love with Backroads during the Davita/California stint of fall '07 so in seems fitting to come full circle back to the place where I began. Last year I was busy putting on weight via cheese and wine in Italy, so I was unable to do the ride. I think at the time I laughed at my good fortune. I assured myself this year would be different, more organized, planned, I'd sleep more and be cranky less...
Granted, Backroads has corrected errors, planned, prepared and focused their energy into a stronger ride. However... we still remain working 18 + hour days, sneaking away to use the bathroom or send a text, sleeping underneath large trailer trucks. Endless cups of coffee made way into one or two or four cocktails, capping off lengthy work day in the pouring rain wandering around with your backpack looking for places to sleep. Standing in a foot and a half of water in my flip flops in the makeshift kitchen of ten camping trailers combined, scrubbing dishes in the pouring rain I asked myself. Better, yes. Ideal, no. Busy? Absolutely.
I traveled to and fro the ride in a sweet red Audi, and my sweet friend Rebecca. The little sporty number was courtesy her man friend and we road tripped in and out of Michigan via Chicago. Going in we reminisced about our time together in Ireland, our 2009 Backroads season and about general life, love and happiness. On the way home we chatted through the gong show week, the best and worst parts, and what we'd do if we could do it all over again. To Rebecca I am grateful for the support and laughter. We were hysterical when we pulled into the outskirts of Chicago. I flew to Toronto and am soaking in the luxurious parenting, support and love of Mum, Dad and Hillary. I have also been sleeping around eleven hours a night, which I suppose is also helping my overall outlook.
After Toronto I am headed to California, to do the Coast Ride for the Arthritis Foundation (the exact same deal as in 2007) which I am most looking forward to because I fell in love with the state at that time those few years ago. I go straight into a long stint in Death Valley followed by an exit home at the end of November. Hard to believe the time is planned all the way up to that point...
Madness of Davita aside, with the California plans glistening in the future (insert Phantom Planet's aptly named 'California' song here) the one thing that stays with me over the past week is Davita's cheer. All teams (the ride was divided into color teams) take turns cheering in front of the gathered crowd to show their team spirit. All chants must begin or end with "We Are Here". On further consideration, I decided this was appropriate for all phases of life. We Are Here, an announcement to the crowd (or whomever chooses to listen to you) that you are in fact Here, present, open and waiting- in this moment- alive. You are Here. I am here. We are here.
It is time to rest my tired toes (I was able to complete the Toronto half marathon this morning, a handy little early Happy 26th Birthday to me), stop worrying about my inability to post photos on the blog site (I have no idea why) and enjoy my afternoon and days here in Toronto. After all, I Am Here.