Welcome to Austin: Land of Lance, flushy toilets, real food and boys that say “wow”
Apparently, I have fallen asleep in a face plant on the bus bench. We are closing in on Austin, and things are starting to look more civilized. Not that that’s necessarily better. Nothing inspirational about highways and strip malls.
We pull into a hotel a little outside Austin proper to wait for all the teams to arrive. Tomorrow we all ride in as one. What day would that make tomorrow? Better yet, what is today? It is Thursday, we are told.
Janelle’s friend Tara meets us there, and they take the dog to its new home. And a flea bath.
The hotel dude tells me where to walk to get food, and I head in that direction, but soon I stop. I am starving, but it doesn’t matter. Even though it’s 4 p.m. and I haven’t eaten anything real since a hotel breakfast at 6:30 a.m., it doesn’t matter. We made it, we did it, and nothing else seems important. I almost cry.
I go back to the hotel and do another face plant on the bed. I don’t wake up till 7:30 the next morning. For those keeping track, that makes it Friday.
I look around, and there’s no Janelle. First I think, she got lucky. Then I realize it’s more likely she stayed at the ranch with Tara and the dog. Apparently so, and apparently the dog’s new name is Rolin. As in Beach Ball Team Rolin’ Out. . . . perfect!
Soon, all the teams have gathered, and we’re rolling out together for a 20ish mile ride into the heart of downtown Austin. A few miles into it, Laurens has a flat, which after shouting everyone else off who is trying to help (in the nicest possible way), she changes herself. She rides in the van with us as we catch her up to team. Laurens educates me about “the painlocker,” which is that hurty place that cyclists for some reason want to stay in as long as possible to get better and stronger for it. In my mind, I think we are finally out of the painlocker, and it feels good.
By the way, Laurens is one of my new heroes.
At some point I get bored of sitting in the back seat and hang out the back window of the van. When I was a kid, the sliding door window did not go down, so of course I have to explore this. Keith hands me the camera, and I start snapping away, one arm looped around the bike rack, and an ankle wedged into the seat. Keith tells me a (rather cute, I have to admit) guy walking down the sidewalk sees me hanging out of the van and says, “Wow.” My kind of town.
At a stop light, I see a homeless guy with the typical cardboard sign. Then he flips it over, and it says: “Smile, it’s contagious.” Everyone in the van starts laughing, and so does the homeless guy.
A short list of casualties we have sustained:
*Shadows under our eyes from little to no sleep.
*I have lost more weight, for which I will probably be in trouble when I get back.
*My fingernails are now long enough to cut someone.
*I have a 2 inch bruise on my thigh from running into my massage table in the dark. Janelle has no idea where her bruises came from.
*No idea what day it is.
*I may never be able to eat hotel eggs again.
On the brighter side:
*There are no stories about me running bottomless through a fountain, unlike someone I may know. 8^) (actually I’m undecided about whether this is a good thing or not)
*I do not have a saddle sore substantial enough to have earned a name. (sorry, Robin)
*I have a new best friend (yay Janelle!) and a rather large addition to make to the group I consider “family.”
*I did not break, lose or throw out the window the GPS loaned to me.
*I am hooked. The Challenge to Conquer Cancer Ride has a massage therapist for as long as it wants me.
No matter what challenges came our way, they were worth it. No matter what we are going through, there are people to help if we let them. As the homeless guy said, Smile, it’s contagious. . .
Beach Ball team: out!
p.s.: I have to say, I do love this town. If I don’t come back, can someone please bring my dog? And my yoga students, and massage clients, and. . . ok, I’m coming back. See you Monday everybody. I miss you.
Another p.s.: B.W., I did this for you. I love you. I hope in some small way that it helps.