My eyes opened on day two of our journey. Thursday, December 12, 2013. We had arrived long after sunset the night before so I was anxious to see my outdoor surroundings. It seemed we had driven through emptiness arriving in the middle of nowhere. I was imagining beauty, from the description I had been given by Becky, our hostess. I was not disappointed. The morning light peeking through the window displayed a spectacular view of the pristine landscape of the back of the home, which had been hidden in the thick darkness of the night. It was remote and breathtakingly beautiful. There was not a sound. It was as if time stood still and I was the only person present. I had been given a room all to myself, probably for the last time on this trip. I stretched, like one of Becky's cats, and remained in bed for a few more minutes lost in my thoughts. This was a rare luxury and I was taking full advantage.
As I relaxed, I closed my eyes and reflected on the sense of peace I was feeling. Our slow progress toward Florida was another luxury I appreciated. This trip means more to me than a simple vacation and cycling training. It is a catalyst to an even deeper level of spirituality. A much needed battery recharge.
I was in perfect company. The three amigas, as we have dubbed ourselves, have different personality traits, yet we blend well together. Balance each other. Compliment each other. Athletes, women and friends on a common journey. There are times in life where one must put the hustle and bustle behind and return to simplicity. We had no particular agenda other than to arrive at athlete check-in in Mt. Dora, FL at 6:30pm Friday evening, and the big training ride on Saturday. Otherwise we were winding our way slowly to the sunshine state.
I am not spontaneous. Or, at least I haven't been. Recently I have been consciously letting go of a lot of my old ideas, habits and character flaws which have been holding me back from achieving balance. On this trip I have learned spontaneity, patience and tolerance. So far. Ha Ha.
We had a lovely breakfast with Becky and Fatty the cat, reloaded the car and hit the open road. Destination: Chattenooga, TN. The only plan was to ride our bikes when we arrived. Hopefully part of the Ironman Chattenooga course, if we could locate it. Basically, however we had no idea where, when or how long the ride would be, and I let go of the control. I was along for the ride, so to speak, in more ways than one. And that's huge progress for me.
We arrived in Chattenooga around 11am, and scoped out a good place to start. We parked in an open lot and unloaded the bikes. It was colder than we anticipated and we needed our cold weather gear. We laughed, bundled up (understatement) and set out. We were going to attempt an out and back, as we were unfamiliar with the town and surrounding mountains. Yes. Mountains. We started out, and Catherine stopped to request some sort of directional advice from a local Salvation Army bell ringer. He seemed to know what he was talking about, and once again the urge to act spontaneity struck and we decided to throw caution to the wind and set out in the direction he pointed. Our plan was to make as few turns as possible.
After taking an eternity to get changed, fill our water bottles, use the restroom and set out amidst much laughter, it was close to 2:00pm. The ride was hard. The elements and the terrain worked against us, but we persevered! It felt bitterly cold, there was a fair amount of wind, and we faced challenging climbs. (I happen to love riding in the wind and I embrace climbing, so the ride was so much fun.) The girls had a blast as well.
Downtown Chattenooga was beautiful and the perfect spot to break up our trip to do what we love.
We returned to the car, locked our gear and our bikes and had an early dinner. Ben and Jerry's ice cream for dessert. We justified the calories with the exertion we had put forth on our bikes. We got back on the road at 6pm, laughing and chatting as we replayed the day. We stopped for the night (spontaneously) in Valdosta, GA.
Next destination: Mt. Dora, FL A three hour drive....
To be continued....