As the last bits of sunlight licked the tree tops, I found myself rolling into the driveway of a white farmhouse, hoping the owners of the house would let me charge my cell phone for a minute so that I could make contact with Chris and the team.
The blinds parted next to the front door and a girl about the same age as myself peeked at me. She then emerged from the garage and said hello. I briefly described my predicament and she agreed to letting me plug in my phone for a few minutes. Since the garage door was open, I suggested that I just plug into an outlet in there, not wanting to make her uncomfortable by coming into the house and she said that would be fine.
The battery in my phone was so dead that even after plugging it in, I still had to wait a few minutes for there to be enough power to make an outgoing call. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a hold of Chris and had to leave a message. I gave him the crossroads of my current location and asked him if someone could meet me at the county road which I estimated to be about ten miles from where I currently stood. That way we would end up meeting in the middle of what was left of my route. I sent a text message as follow-up in case my voicemail was lost in space and then repacked my bag.
While saying good bye, my new friend gave me a few words of caution about the houses that were on the back roads and suggested I take the road her house stood on up to the main road. I had thought about that as well, but the guys had a print out of my directions and I didn't want to go off course. I assured her it would be fine, that I had lights. She said she thought I was braver then she would be in my current circumstances.
At home, if I were riding the roads by myself, I easily would have allowed myself to get creeped out and would have been turning for home. Out here, there really wasn't another option. At best the guys were still at least forty-five minutes away by car and it was too chilly to sit and wait by the side of the road.
I told her with a laugh that she wouldn't be reading about me in the paper and then started turning the cranks towards the now designated meeting place. The night was now upon me and my headlight shed bright light onto the road in front of me.
As I moved along, I thought to myself that before I knew it I would be at Ben's house laughing with everyone about being stuck out here, just that small rationalization made me feel comforted. My mileage was now hovering around one hundred and thirty five miles, but my legs felt okay and I was still thinking clearly. I also remembered that Eric's girlfriend Rachel was with the guys and that she wouldn't let them forget to come find me!
After an hour had passed, I still hadn't found the county road. I'd followed all of the directions perfectly up until now, but the intersection had evaded me. I came up on what seemed like a main road and stopped pedaling. Leaning my bike against the stop sign, I sat down and started rummaging through my bag. I reminded myself that this was the time not to freak out. I just needed to eat something and assess the situation. Overhead the sky was clear and filled with stars, the fields along the road where glistening as frost was starting to form.
After consuming a Luna bar and my last cliff shot block I decided to move forward and try one more intersection before I turned around. The two houses I passed didn't have any lights on and the next road did not match the name of the one I was looking for...not even close. I was preparing to turn around when a large, well lit auto shop truck rumbled up the road. The truck turned down the road in front of me and I decided this would be the person to ask for help.
I followed his truck to his house like a stray puppy and explained from the driveway my predicament. I felt composed, but I'm sure I looked a little worse for wear, it had been over fourteen hours on the bike at this point. He agreed to let me plug in my phone and I quickly disassembled my gear and plugged the charger into an outlet on the porch.
After three rings Eric answered Chris's phone, I've never been happier to hear his voice in my life...
We quickly discussed where I was located and decided to meet at the intersection I had recently departed. According to Eric, Ben said I had missed the turn for the county road because the name is different on the sign then on my map.
My second new friend of the evening offered to drive me back up to the corner and after I protested, not wanting to cause him further inconvenience, we loaded my bike onto the flat bed of his truck. Within ten minutes I was reunited with Chris and Eric. They quickly loaded my bike onto the roof rack and we filled in the missing details of my route.
In the end, I received a great ride (147 miles) and a little miss adventure. As with all stories, there are many different paths they can take. For this story, there was no unhappy ending, but instead the kindness of strangers and friends shone brightly above and beyond anything else.
I am thankful that my friends put up with me and the idea of my epic ride. Thank you Chris, Eric, Ben and Rachel for getting me home safely. Thanks to Ben and his dad for allowing me to crash at their house and the late night sodas! Special thanks to Chris for making arrangements on my behalf for clothes and for dropping me off back at home, most of this adventure wouldn't have been possible without your assistance!
|Tired Smile On The Road!|