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2/20/2014 Bucket List Ride Day 5

I could tell that today was going to be hard.  We woke up around 7:30 and our sense of urgency was more like a sense of procrastination.  We were both moving so slowly and just sort of going through the motions.  Last night our plan was to get up, eat breakfast and just pedal for 60 miles.  The day went way differently than planned.

Hallway Bike Riding

Dad checks off “hallway bike riding” from the bucket list

On the way out of the hotel my dad said, “I’ve always wanted to do this” and before I knew what was going on he was riding his bike down the hall, I barely had a chance to grab the camera.  Knock that off the bucket list.

Breakfast at McDonalds and things just weren’t clicking and I think the idea of riding another ten hours was daunting to my dad.  I could see it in his face and hear it in his voice.  The prospect of slogging all those hours was hard on me too. 

Arleen knows everyone at McDonalds

Arleen at McDonalds

The locals are always interested in us when we walk in a restaurant and in the corner was a group of retired military and they struck up a short conversation with me.  One of them said, “You don’t have that faraway look in your eyes yet.”  He was about the age of the Korea conflict and his comment made me wonder about his past life.  There is so much untapped wisdom and experience in the older generations, I’d like to just sit and listen to some of the stories of almost everybody that I meet.

The next person to come up to us was Arlene a McDonald’s employee.  She clearly loves her job and I had been watching her as she said hello to everyone in the place and knew many by name.  She asked a little about our trip and our bikes and then she had the funniest thing to say, “We have a few people on bikes here but they are all homeless, I can tell the difference.”  I had to take a picture of her and she was just barely taller than I was while sitting down.  I hope I see her again.

Urgent Care

Uh Oh! Dad needs Urgent care

The winds were in our favor this morning with about 15 mph tail wind!  We’re going to FLY!  But first, we need to make an unscheduled stop at the urgent care. During yesterday’s ride, in an attempt to be a bit more efficient my dad raised his saddle about 2 mm.  This caused a serious problem, perhaps a ride ending situation.  Sometimes known as a saddle sore, the constant friction from pedaling can cause a serious blister sort of infection and even at the pro level can take people out of the game.  This had to be addressed today or the ride was going to end right here in Mobile Al.  Luckily, a bit of slicing and dicing, heavy dose of antibiotics and a doctor ordered a rest day.  Dad feels confident in being able to continue.

The rest day was a good thing and as the time passed I could see that my dad was feeling better and a bit more optimistic.

Staci Woodard donates to Tour de Cure

Staci Woodard donates to Tour de Cure

Special things happen all the time and I think it is really easy to miss them.  While sitting in urgent care I had several phone calls and conversations updating our ride.  Across the way from me I noticed a mom and her daughter and I could tell they were listening to my calls.  They were interested in what I was talking about.  After getting off the phone, the mom said, “We would like to donate to your ride, we have a family member that is affected by diabetes and we think what you are doing really cool” and they handed me a $20 bill.  This is the first time something like this has ever happened and it hit home again how important our fund raising is.  Thank you Staci Woodard!

We had an hour to wait for my dad’s prescription and while sitting outside another Walmart killing time I had the great idea of gluing a quarter to the sidewalk.  I thought it would be fun to watch people try to pick it up and it seemed like a fun thing to do and a harmless joke. 

Quarter glued to the ground

Prank! Gluing a quarter to the ground

A few minutes later a homeless man came up to us and sat down next to me.  I could tell that he saw the quarter and I was petrified that he was going to try to pick it up.  I felt horrible and wanted to undo the joke.

He asked a couple of questions about our ride and we talked a bit about nothing important.  But I started really listening to him.  He was clearly intelligent with a great vocabulary and a calm demeanor.  In a very short time this man had an impact on me.  He had a grocery bag full of a few empty plastic bottles, a piece of white construction material, a few broken SOLO cups and a few other random things.  He started talking about the undercover Wal-Mart people and how they were all federal agents.  “Everyone that has the earpiece is recording everything.”  He mentioned the police that kill people and he didn’t think they should do that because the bible says you shouldn’t.  I asked him where he stays at night and he pointed up the road.  “I live in the burned up house, it’s a good one because there is granite stones and I can stay there and nobody messes with me.  Sometimes my son comes by, I still talk to him.  But the police beat him up once, right in front of me, he is moving back to Florida soon.”  As he talked of his son he started to cry.  I almost cried too and I am as I write this.  His son is 21 and he has a daughter.  It was clear to me that this man loves his family yet he was alone at this Wal-Mart, missing his family and afraid of the federal agents and the police that are trying to get him.  I wonder how he was twenty one years ago when his son was a baby.

We talked a bit more and I reached in my jersey pocket and grabbed two honey stinger waffles and handed him one.  They are kind of hard to open and he asked me to open it for him which I did.  He took a bite and I noticed that he carefully folded it up and put it in his bag with the rest of his stuff, then he said thank you and started to get up.  My heart sunk because I was embarrassed that I had glued the quarter to the ground, he didn’t even look twice at it and started walking the other way.  He never once asked for money, he just wanted to have a conversation with someone.  I gave him some change, I could have given him a $20.00.

Jessie Wilckerson

Jessie Wilckerson

The rest of the day I thought of the homeless man.  His name is Jessie and he has a family.  He was probably my age.  20 years ago, when his son was tiny, what was this man like?  What happened to him during his journey to today?  I relearned something today, I think that when it all comes down to it, when you take all the “stuff” away, love is really all we have.  Insert #6  Jessie, I hope things get better for you.

Today was a day of no-riding.  My dad needs to get better and he needs to recover.  We are missing out on a great tail wind, but our day will be spent in a hotel.  Let’s hope for a fast recovery and a great ride tomorrow.  We are farther behind schedule……

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