The Lobster Roll - JB's Reflection
It was pretty clear when we turned onto Route 129 out of Damariscotta that Mike planned to pull us all the way to the finish. And it made sense that we would pick it up a little bit since we were now assured that we would not have to get up and get back on the bike the next day. I just enjoyed sitting on his wheel and cruising towards the finish. No more worries about the next stop or if my tender sit bones would survive another long day on this little seat, no more wondering if I should have re-applied the sunscreen or not. Just turning the pedals over and over and over and counting down the miles.
At some point, it became clear that, as strong as he was feeling, Mike was not in fact going to pull the entire last two hours. With something like eight to ten miles to go, he slid to the side and I hit the front. And I got a little bit excited.
As we tore past the densely-clustered pine trees on the side of the road and I started to feel the finish line, I started turning the pedals a little harder, and then a little harder. The deep soreness in my legs no longer worried me as the built up strength of day after day of six or more hours of pedaling showed up.
All I thought about was keeping the numbers even but high, hold back a little on the small rises and then keep churning over the crests. It was such a thrill to feel ever so briefly the incredible power of my body when it is well trained and I have the opportunity to wring it out a little bit. The fact that I was towing four good friends along at the end of an incredible week just made it sweeter.
I’ve had moments like this at other times in my life, in high school when I was just figuring out that if I ran more and faster, I could run faster and more. And then in college when I really got a pretty good idea of what I was capable of if I turned in weeks and months of 80-90 miles a week of running and lived a little bit like a monk. And I’ve always treasured those moments, as more often than not the training and the racing was a grind, things always hurt, and there were always questions of whether I was good enough to actually do the things I dared to dream of doing.
As I get older and my body slowly betrays me, I am afraid of what it will be like when I ask it to do what it has always done and the answer is no.
I am proud that we could do a little something to help people who face that challenge all at once, when their body betrays them and isn’t just not responding but is actively destroying them.
I can’t tow those people to the finish line like I could that day in Maine, I can’t turn the fatigue and pain in the background into a cathartic dash to the finish. But together with all the people that contributed and supported us, there’s at least a chance that someone will be there to do it.