I was excited my friend Emily and some others I knew were also going.
I pretended not to hear Emily when she said we would cycle to the farm.
But as the time time drew nearer she made the plan quite clear.
I remained in denial.
Then the weather turned and it looked like it might rain.
My soul rejoiced.
And then the weather cleared.
On Friday at 4pm I got on a bicycle for the first time in over 15 years and practiced up and down the alley. Stopping at each end to get off and turn around to the amusement of my family watching from the back of the truck all redneck like.....
I was impressed with myself for remembering how to cycle......but I felt wobbly and not very "in control"...and as we all know that is NOT my happy place.
I thought about just driving there.
But at 5:20pm I set out on my bike to stop No. 1 on this epic journey...... Not with any sense of delight or anticipation but with a deep pit in my stomach wondering if I was actually going to survive.
I look so happy in this photo because I thought is may be my last one ever and I wanted to be remembered as happy not terrified.
On Phase 1 I rode for 5 minutes and learned the following:
1. Bikes do not have rear view mirrors no matter how many times you check.
2. Bike have gears.....I have no idea what gears do.
3. Clenching your butt does not have a stabilizing effect on the bike.
4. Cars mean trouble.
5. Momentum is a "thing".......be careful how you apply the brakes.
6. No such thing as a graceful dismount.
Phase 1 was meeting the other cyclists at Donnas house - all veterans of this
debacle escapade......we had Vera-sized Mojitos as we chatted and got ready......because that seems like a swell idea before a long bike ride.
And then we were off...... all cheery and happy.... were they......me I was still deathly afraid......and when I was given less than 200 meters warning of a turn I nearly died of fright....but I made it....all the way to the dyke..... I happily brought up the rear of the group, pedaling like mad to keep up......not able to take my eye off the path or my hands off their vice-like grip of the handles.....I had no breath for cheery chatter.
"How are you doing Nicky?" they called from up ahead. "I am not having a heart-attack" I said "It just feels like it"....... When one fellow cyclist said "Great work Nicky you are half way there" I wanted to die on the spot.... HALFWAY....... I was writing farewell notes to my family in my head.
And then we rounded a bend, my legs still happily pumping up and down but my butt screaming in protest and my hands now fully molded to the handles......and down a hill and into the farm we rode......Not at all like 18 year old carefree girls from Amsterdam as I had been promised but more like a slightly rotund, 40 something, sweaty survivor of the amazing race.......
I knew then and there that going back the way I came was.not.happening.......
But on to the dinner....... after my heart stopped pounding and the sweat dried I enjoyed the farm dinner prepared by Chef Ian Lai very much..... local ingredients prepared in interesting ways.....great chatter, interesting people, great sunny evening with lovely puffy clouds, outside.... quite charming.
And sunset just as the dessert was served
It was then Allan texted to say he was off to the pub with some friends (husbands of my fellow cyclists). Oh jolly nice......but clearly I would have to cycle home. He did offer to come and get me when I texted my alarm at making it home alive but I felt I had to get back on the bike....in the dark and just.do it.
It was a gruelling ride back. All the symptoms from the ride there plus a full belly.....and not just of food....
I mainly focused on not throwing up or going into the ditch.
With my personal cheering section of Emily on her bomber bike, in her dress, bag swinging off the handle bars, chatting away, texting while biking, extolling the delights of night time biking, on how perfect the night was - all carefree and "Amsterdamy" while I assumed the hunched over, focused stance of person on their death ride....
We made it. I actually made it home.....all sweaty again.......where the party resumed in a house my children cleaned up and made presentable in under 10 minutes after my text (while blessedly stationary for a minute) "People coming - clean!".......
An Epic night to be sure......... in fact my butt still hurts......