After 17 years in a row of riding in the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia, I'm not riding this year. At least not the whole thing. I may do the first (mountainous!) day, and I MAY do a leg in the middle of the week because it starts close to home, but other than that I'm not doing the ride. I couldn't do the whole week this year anyway because of our retarded school schedule this year. We will still be in post-planning, and although I was allowed to miss it last year, the climate has changed at school this year, and I wouldn't even ask.
Am I going to have to change the name of my blog?
Am I going to have to turn in my license plate that says "Share the Road"?
I don't know if this is the END of riding in the cross-state ride, or if it's just a one-year thing. I'm not EVEN going to predict how I might feel about it this time next year.
My only regret so far is that I'm afraid I may have let Katydid down. She scheduled her vacation around the ride, and it's sort of hard for her to ride on the back of a tandem by herself. Now don't crucify me, she also has a single bike, and she can go if she really, really, really wants to. But mostly we've gone together. There were even the years when our mother went along with us to do the laundry and set up the tent and cook for us and make coffee in the mornings. Sounds heavenly. Wasn't.
This year the hassles finally outweighed the benefits.
I'll be teaching summer school online. Last year I was 98 assignments in the hole when I got back from BRAG, and that was with staying up until 11:00 every night of the ride working on the computer. Then getting up at 5:00 AM to ride 60 miles on a bicycle. In the heat. Only to get to the next town and the next hotel and being FURTHER in the hole.
I have to haul said computer, plus my CPAP machine. That means I really need my car, because I don't trust either of those things to be tossed on the luggage truck. It's hard to get someone to drive my car from one town to another. Rozmo was sweet enough to do it last year (except for the day that Scott drove it), but I can't ask her to do that every year, not when she has other responsibilities as one of the BRAG folks.
I grew too old a couple of years ago to sleep in a tent or in a hot gymnasium that's wall-to-wall with snoring men and women. That means going to a hotel every night, which means wonderful sleep and a (usually) guaranteed spot to use the internet. But it's just another detail that has to be managed. I'm getting too crotchety to manage details.
I only have six weeks of summer this year (SORRY to those of you who are saying "Only? WTF?"), and I was reluctant to give up one of them for something that's physically challenging. More challenging this year than usual because I haven't trained.
And speaking of training, it isn't because I haven't had time or the weather hasn't cooperated. My heart just hasn't been in it. One day when I was on my way to the laundry room, I walked past my bicycle in the basement. I shuddered at the thought of having to get on that bike and ride across Georgia. I had never felt that way before.
When I first felt like I didn't want to go on BRAG, I was afraid I was going through a little mini-depression. It was on a weekend, and I felt kind of blah. But on Monday morning, the fog had lifted, and I still didn't want to go on BRAG. In fact, ever since I decided NOT to go, I have felt like a tremendous burden has been lifted from my shoulders. That's got to mean it was the right decision, right?
I always wondered how long I would continue to ride in BRAG, how many years in a row. I wondered if I would get sick or develop some kind of chronically painful condition that would prohibit me from riding. Considering the age of some of the folks who manage to do it year after year, I was pretty sure old age wouldn't be the culprit.
It just felt weird to get up one morning and not want to go. It even feels weird that it still feels right.
There are some folks I will miss, friends I've met through cycling that I only see on BRAG. There are some folks that I see on BRAG every year that I will DEFINITELY NOT miss. The lady at rest stop #2 who generates so much controversy, for example. I can do without her and her antics. A certain former co-worker. Another someone who shall remain nameless but has pissed off more people in more states than anyone else I've ever known. A cyclist who, upon receiving a sample of lubricant for the "saddle sore" area, proceeded to apply it right then. In mixed company. In a parking lot. She was also the same one who almost made an 18-wheeler go off the road going up a steep hill because she was in the middle of the road writing something in chalk. Yeah, I won't miss her.
Katydid is worried about me breaking my streak of 17 in a row; Sweet Girl had the same thought. I have assured them both that there is no one keeping score.
Besides, if I ride even one day, I can still say I have ridden in 18 straight BRAGs.