Patrick Sheridan said they would have wheels down at 6:30 a.m. which I thought was too early after a long and hot first day. But the forecast was for another 90 degree day.
I drove to Nottoway Park in Vienna where I parked then biked to the W&OD and smoked it hoping to meet the cancer group coming up from Alexandria. I reached the end of the W&OD and continued on the Four Mile Run Trail. At a difficult-to-determine intersection I came upon what looked like 20 riders, all holding cue sheets, discussing which way to go. And some already decided to go straight - which was the wrong way.
I pulled up and said "can you guys make it all the way to San Francisco without me giving you turn by turn directions?"
I heard someone, I think it was Chris, yell out "Barry!"
Since I rode with four riders yesterday, most in the group did not know me although I did say goodbye to a number of them in Alexandria the day before.
They were glad to see me and quickly decided which group should follow me. Five or six of us headed up the trail to the W&OD. I was talking with a rider from Dallas, Michael Wray.
As we made our way up the trail I asked where Patrick was. I was told he was "way out in front." Uh, no he wasn't.
They decided which group would follow me -- even on trails they stayed true to riding in small groups rather than all 30 riding as one -- and we took off up the trail. As I made my way up the trail I was asked to slow down. Repeatedly. My response was simply to ask them if they knew how a bunch of 20-something guys asking an old rider like me to slow down really stroked my ego?
Even funnier was the account of Stephanie Ausfresser:
"At the beginning we rode a trail for miles. When a fork in the trail came and we didn't know which way to go, Barry, Patrick’s pedal pal found us and pointed us in the right direction. He rode with us for the first two days. He was so strong and fast, I was pushing just to keep up. We made a line to follow each other and break the wind. Even though it was mostly flat, we were going about 16-18 mph."I guided our first group to Nottoway Park then went back to find the others, eventually leading all groups there. Patrick's group had been first on the trail but missed the Four Mile Run turn and by the time they doubled back, they were last. So I rode with them from Vienna through Fairfax before saying goodbye and riding back to my van.
I took the long way home through Manassas and there I saw the riders again, far off course. I laughed, and directed them back on course. I stopped at a Sheetz and bought 30 hot dogs and found their rest stop. The hot dogs were well received.
But this time I had to say goodbye for good. I had to referee a regional high school soccer match at 5:00 p.m. And some asked me to ride with them. I so wanted to.
I left Patrick's group with my words of wisdom for them. They are too young.
Too young to really appreciate the good of what they are doing. They will look back in 30 years and say "I did what?" While for some this is a (biking) adventure of a lifetime, it is so much more important than that. We survivors can never thank them enough for what they are doing to raise awareness and, yes, funds ($0.5 million). They really do make a difference. Godspeed my friends.
This day and this ride has made me want to retire. Not on the spot and ride with them, although that would be nice. But I want to retire from my job and move on to a place that will make a difference in people's lives. I would like to elevate my cancer fighting game like they are doing for 70 days.