The tour is over and done and I have been home for several weeks trying to figure out what it all means/meant to me and where I go from here.
I'm glad I went, it was rewarding in all the ways I expected it to be and I now have new friendships to enjoy. The community of women on these tours is rather magical as our biking bubble sustains us during the trip and somewhat insulates us from the larger world. We share a monumental adventure and yet we each experience it in our own way and we each get something different out of it.
We experienced the Atlantic Coast (and its inhabitants, human and otherwise) at people speed - fast enough to cover the miles, but slow enough to really relish the journey. Some of our experiences filled our souls and some scared us half to death. Some days were exhilarating and others more of a slog. But each day was different and each had its challenges and rewards.
There are some downsides of course. Two months is a long time to be away from home, even with today's ease of communication. The tedium of daily routines is different from home but no less tedious - get up, pack up, load up, each day in a different place - it makes you wish for a house elf. The suppers in the parking lot on plastic chairs (one of the best ways of getting to know each other) make you yearn for a real table, a flat place to set your drink down and maybe even a cloth napkin. And while this mobile community gives some shape and stability to everything, a different bed every night, a different roommate every night (added on to the exertion of the day) takes its toll on your sleep.
BUT. Those are also the shared experiences that make this type of travel so rewarding and bind us into such a close sisterhood, so I wouldn't change them at all.
So it wasn't the tour I expected, it wasn't the tour I planned, but it was the tour I was on and I did indeed learn and grow from the experience. I had to laugh at myself as I contemplated this post - I found myself thinking that I only did 800 or so miles (out of 2600). ONLY?? ONLY?? Five years ago I couldn't have ridden 80 miles in seven weeks, much less 800. I rode more than I would have had I been at home and more than most people my age ride at all. So yeah, since I did the best I could at this time and under these circumstances, it has to be considered a success.
Random pictures from a wonderful trip.