After the finish line

Well, I did it!  Every mile, every hill, every camp night, every single ass-killing, hard-as-hell bit of it.  And you know what?  I hated every single minute of it.  It was awful.  It was hard and uncomfortable and exhausting and completely beyond me why people sign up for it year after year.  And as I crossed the finish line, instead of reveling in my accomplishment and hugging all my fellow participants, I immediately peeled my butt of that unforgiving bike seat, yelled “Bike for sale!” and high-tailed to the hotel for room service and a 12-hour nap.

It’s taken me a while to sit down and write this post because I was hoping that after a couple of weeks of stationary distance from it, my memory of the experience would have changed, and I could talk about how transformational and wonderful it was.  But instead I’m going to write about the truth of it—it was painful and I got tons out of it.

finish line

I learned that as much as I hate mornings I can get up at 5 am and take on a pretty difficult day.  I learned that with some training and determination, even a hardcore sofa lover can take on some pretty significant physical challenges.  I was reminded that every goal is obtained inch by inch and not mile upon mile.  I got to hear about some pretty amazing personal stories of turning grief, tragedy, or sickness into power, growth, and change.  I was reminded to be grateful for porcelain toilets and pillow-top mattresses.  I learned that I am definitely not a cyclist or bicycle enthusiast of any kind.  And most importantly, I was reminded that I’m not nearly as fragile as I always think I am.  And for those reasons, it was probably one of the best things I’ve ever done.

I definitely won’t be signing up for next year, and I smile an evil grin every time I go into the garage and see my bike wonderfully neglected with a flat tire and accumulating dust (you will hurt me no longer, you vehicle from hell!)  But I will take this knowledge, the things I learned, and put them into the next challenge, and the next, and the one after that.  Because after surviving that week and those grueling 545 miles, I know I can probably do damn near anything–except ride a bike again.

Thank you again for your support, encouragement, donations, and sticking with me through all of this.  And if you’d like to take on this challenge yourself next year, I know where you can get a good deal on a bike…

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7 comments

  1. Pamela

    So inspired by this. All of it – your honesty, your grit, your never losing heart. Even when you lost heart. Dude, you are fierce. Namo Namo.

  2. mssdalton

    Love your honesty. So proud of your entire journey (not just the trip to LA part). You ROCK. And I can’t wait to celebrate with you!!!
    PS–If you’re serious about getting rid of your bike, Graham has just recently gotten obsessed with cycling and is wearing his bike-loaning welcome out with friends. We’re ready to do some bike shopping.
    xoxo

  3. Jeremy

    Hey Randy,

    It’s your virtual friend from MN just saying a hearty congratulations on making it all the way. I think the lessons that you’re taking away from this are incredible, and perhaps you’d never quite learn them (or perhaps to the degree you did) unless you did this very thing. I know it’s not exactly the same thing, but I felt a similar feeling after completing my masters thesis — it was one of the hardest things I ever had to do and I realized that if I can make it through that, I can do just about anything I set my mind to do.

    I’m so grateful for the update and glad to hear that you survived! Sincere best wishes as you set off on your next adventures.

    Jeremy

    P.S. — I will never, ever ride 545 miles on a bike.

  4. SF Bi-Coastal

    Well done, sir! There’s no shame in saying “this is not for me,” *after* you’ve done it! No one can say you didn’t put in the sweat and tears, and I think it’s important for people to know – that sh*t aint easy!

  5. timirvin

    Bravo!
    It is an awful thing, but we don’t tend to learn as much from the easy parts of life. Which means – most unfortunately – that we need to challenge ourselves to really grow. Darn. I guess that means I need to follow your example and take on a new project that scares me.

    I don’t even know you, but as a fellow human I am so proud of you. I am proud that you continually pushed through barriers, not just for those 545 miles but also for the months of training before hand.

    Thanks for the inspiration

    Bravo!

    (and please keep writing here….I love reading your stuff!)

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