Dear friends and family,
April blew by in a rush of wind and rain, but when the weather cooperated, the sights from my bike were the kind that made me pull over and drink in the beauty that unfolded beneath my tires.
I set out to ride 400 miles this month and fell dramatically short. Weather was uncooperative, but also my month was filled with writing classes and the only thing I love more than riding my bike is writing. So, the goal of riding 400 miles is my carrot for May.
1 Herd of Scottish Steer
On Easter morning I went to my Gramma’s church. (Yes, it starts out as an Easter story and ends with cows. That happens more than you’d think on a bike.) Where was I? Yes, Easter morning at church. Easter morning was particularly hard in the wake of my grandmother’s death. It’s always a day brimming with emotion for me anyway, what with the whole Christ rising from the dead thing. It moves me to tears, but the fact of the matter was that I was also profoundly aware of the separation between my grandmother and myself. She is in Heaven. I am on Earth. The time and space between us crushes me. And so there I was a weepy mess because of the goodness of the Lord and the profundity of my heartbreak. What’s a girl to do with all that raw emotion? Work it out on the bike. Terry and I yanked on our spandex for the second annual Easter ride with my Uncle Jon. I say “second annual” because I’m hoping it will become a third and fourth and fifth annual Easter ride. When I travelled with my grandmother, we had three daily goals: to see something new, to meet someone new, and to eat ice cream. On that Easter afternoon we stopped at a convenience store where I met two men who marveled at how far we’d ridden. It was only a short ride for me, but I took care to puff out my chest and throw my head back in my best superhero pose to properly accept their accolades. Meet someone new? Check. As we rode, I brought the bike to a screeching halt. Okay, not a screeching halt because I never ride fast enough to make my tires screech, but you know what I mean. I stopped my bike and yelled “What are those?!?” To my right were large, hairy, straight horned animals. They had the body of a cow and the hair of a yak. My uncle calmly replied “Cows. They’re cows.” I eloquently said something like “Nuh uh!” They were Scottish Steer. They are the coolest looking cows I’ve ever seen.
See something new? Check. And that night, we ate ice cream. It was the perfect cure for missing my Gramma.
2 Stinky Jerseys
There comes a point in a cyclist’s life when jerseys take on a life of their own, a stench of their own. A point when they stink straight out of the washing machine. A pair of my jerseys had reached this point and I had only two options: burn them or find a solution. I don’t even know if jerseys will burn. I imagine they just glow and then the flame extinguishes itself in the face of all that neon. I clicked around and found a website that claimed the smell was from bacteria living in my jerseys. Things living in my jerseys? Blech. Let’s all just put our head between our knees and breathe for a sec. The website suggested washing the infested items in hydrogen peroxide. So into the wash they went with a healthy pour of hydrogen peroxide. And they came out all bright and sparkly. I bravely held one up to my nose. Know what I smelled? Nothing. And nothing has never smelled so good.
I rode East toward Whitmore this month, out next to the fields of volcanic rock spewed from Mt. Lassen. It was beautiful. There I was marveling at the views when I spotted a butterfly headed toward me, flitting through the air, rising and falling in the breeze. I thought of how butterfly wings are powdery and delicate. I watched the butterfly pick up speed. I watched it pick up speed and hurl itself right into my helmet. It make a surprisingly loud “Thwap!” against my helmet, shook itself off and flew away. More power to you, kamikaze butterfly. I do not possess such positive feelings about the second insect. I was standing in my driveway after a ride with Terry when something began biting me inside my jersey. I rushed into my open garage, shoving my bike against the wall and yanking my jersey off while screaming at Terry “Something’s biting me! Something’s biting me! What is it? Do you see it?”. He did not. He could barely keep a straight face as I stripped down to my bra and spandex and yelped like a crazy woman. I never did see the thing that bit me, but I did catch a glimpse of my neighbor across the street chuckling in my direction while he mowed his lawn.
Somewhere in Millville there is a small castle by the side of the road. It has a sign that says “Look in here.” with two eye holes. I peered down into the holes and saw nothing except a pool of water. I swept back the ivy twisting along the top of the castle and was delighted to discover that it’s called the Blarney Castle.
In the front of the castle, there’s a sign that has been washed away by time and weather. I tried to find the story behind the tiny castle. Who built it? What was I supposed to see? Does it have anything to do with the real Blarney Castle in Ireland? It remains a mystery, one I’ll have to investigate further as I ride by it again next month.
1 fifteen Passenger Van
A mile or two from home, I rolled up to a four way stop. Perpendicular to me was an approaching 15 passenger van with the license plate KID MKR. If you take populating the entire earth as a personal challenge, that’s your prerogative. It’s not my bag, but to each his own. After stopping and waiting my turn, I proceeded with caution through the intersection. I say with caution because Mr. KID MKR was busy policing his multiple back seats and couldn’t be bothered with a pesky stop sign. He would not have even looked up had it not been for Mrs. KID MKR, who upon seeing me, swatted at him with a rolled up newspaper. He stopped and looked at me like I’d appeared out of nowhere. Mr. KID MKR, it’s obvious that you and I differ on our ideas of how to responsibly populate the planet. And that’s okay with me. It’s okay with me right up until the point when you start easing the overpopulation problem by taking out cyclists.
$493 donated so far
Thank you Christine W., Heather F., Jill S., John, P., MaryKay S., and Sallie C. I appreciate your support and generosity.
$1,507 until I reach my goal
If you’d like to make a donation to the Lance Armstrong Foundation on my behalf, please go to: http://sanjose2010.livestrong.org/aliciamccauley. You can donate in memory of a loved one’s life cut short by cancer or in support of a loved one who is battling cancer now.
1 field of rock stacks
On the ride out toward Whitmore, there are stacks of volcanic rocks, giants looming on the horizon, casting their shadows over the fields. I love these rock towers. They remind me of the story of Joshua leading the Israelites across the Jordan River. As they crossed the riverbed, they lugged 12 boulders on their backs, one for each tribe, and built a monument to remember that God was with them in their hour of need. I don’t know who built the rock towers in Whitmore. I don’t know why they took time to stack them one atop the other. What I do know is that they remind me that the Lord is with me in my grieving, in my hour of need. And that is something I desperately needed to be reminded of this month.