Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The time has arrived

I leave for New Orleans tomorrow. I have packed tents, sleeping bag and pad, lantern, bike shorts and jerseys, 3 dozen boxes of gluten-free foods, cooking utensils, extra tubes and tires...the list has seemed endless. It all fit into 2 large duffels.

How do I feel? Tired already. There were so many last-minute details at the office, which I now leave in the capable hands of Adele, Saskia, Sarah, Autumn, and Kelli. I'm excited about the riding, but that doesn't begin for several days yet. Everyone has to get to New Orleans from the east, the west, the midwest. Then we'll have a couple of days of orientation to get acquainted.

Today a friend said "This isn't just a ride, it's an epic journey-an Odessy-a Beowulf..." Okay, Greg, enough with the metaphors. But, yes, it is. I expect to be changed somehow. But I have no idea how. Sure I expect to lose a few pounds and come back lean and tanned. But what will be different on the inside after five weeks away from home and work? After five weeks seeking 12 states of this amazing country? After talking to so many activists? After facing exhaustion day after day? These changes can't be planned.

One of the more ironic parts of planning for an extended time outdoors is how to get use out of technology. My cell phone is going with me. Luckily, it includes a camera, an MP3 for music, GPS if we get lost, all of my emails, and of course the phone number of every person I know. I'll be able to call in to record a blog or send you a photo. I bought a solar charger so that my phone can continue to bring me all of these wonderful services even when I'm sleeping outdoors. How did Lewis and Clark do it without a Blackberry?

I am so grateful to every person who has wished me well and to those who have given a gift to MORCRC to be a part of this great journey. I am so grateful for a board that allows me the chance to get away and renew myself in this way. I am so grateful to my wonderful staff for the competent way they handle all matters in my absence. I am touched by all those who have asked how they can help while I'm gone. When I'm exhausted, I'll think of each of you and smile for all of my luck at knowing such incredible people.

The next time I check in, I'll be in New Orleans and ready to ride.

The road is calling...