The kick-off was everything I had hoped it would be and more. Friends, family, and total strangers came out to see Jamaal and I off for the beginning of the cycling tour. It meant a lot to me to see so many people who cared enough to come out. Even our sponsors took time out of their busy work schedules to attend. All in all, I am incredibly thankful for everyone who took part today. It was a great moment for Jamaal and I, and a wonderful way to begin the tour.
But now, the part that I have been so excited to share. After getting hung up at the stadium waiting on the police escort, (He informed us that he had to shave before he came, so it was completely understandable.) we turned on to Hwy. 29 at 11:19AM to begin our 78 mile trip from Pensacola to De FUNiak Springs. The escorted ride down Nine Mile Rd. was almost eerie having a whole lane to ourselves all the way to the Escambia River. I imagine the only thing cooler than this is probably riding shotgun with the sheriff, but this is a bike ride, so I digress...
Riding through Pace we ran into some road work, but it wasn't much, so we weren't slowed down by it. The extreme heat of the afternoon, however, did. Riding in 96 degrees of heat wears on you after a while, but Jamaal and I made the best of it. We tried to see who could come up with the strangest road artifact spotted from the bikes and we have compiled a list of assorted oddities that we encountered.
- A lone, metal spoon.
- Numerous crushed, trampled, cell phones.
- "Extra" nuts and bolts that separate themselves from cars.
- A stuffed chew toy for a dog.
- A Cyndi Lauper cassette tape.
After riding for about three and a half hours with numerous stops to hydrate, Jamaal was badly attacked by cramps. They were relentless, and soon spread to my legs as well. So between the heat and the cramps our progress was most definitely hindered, but we pressed on slowly, but surely. At one point, perhaps due to the dizzying deliriousness brought on by the cramps or maybe the effect of the heat on one's mind, I began to feel closer to my surroundings. I felt closer to the trees and the grass, and I felt closer to the clouds. Riding my bike almost seemed to heighten my senses, strengthening my awareness of the world around me. It is this feeling that pushes the pedals on long after my legs have become sore and my butt has become numb, and it is this feeling that I would like to convey to you. This feeling that you are a part of the world around you, and that you should know everything you can about this beautiful thing you are a part of.
That is the goal of this bike ride. To inform people of a single, yet hurtful, aspect of the human life. Despite all my heady ideas and dreams of the amount of money I hope to raise for the Hepatitis B Foundation and hepatitis research, I must keep reminding myself that the greatest thing I could accomplish with this cycling tour for the Hepatitis B Foundation and for myself is the awareness that this ride could potentially raise. Tonight we rode until just before night fall. We did not quite reach our destination by bike, having to travel the last 14 miles by van, but we still had a very productive day riding 64 miles by bike despite having a late start. Today helped me realize that what I am doing is real, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
I must end it here for it is much too late, but I would like to thank everyone who is following along and for everyone's prayers. Take care everyone, and I will be back in touch soon.
P.S. PICTURES WILL BE FOLLOWING TOMORROW !