by Van Scholten, Team Leader, Team New Hampshire
When I biked from Concord to Wilmot for the first time, I thought it was one of the hardest rides I have done. The weight of my bags teamed with both gravity and the ever-furious push of a staunch head-wind to make the ride much harder than expected. What I think really encouraged me was the anticipation of meeting my fellow team leaders and the coming months of what was projected to be a fantastic summer (my expectations have not been compromised).
The SECOND time I rode from Concord to Wilmot, I had the same heavy black panniers full of all my junk and my sleeping bag, along with a few extra clothes I had gathered on the way PLUS the heavy steel trailer full of the team’s computers, bike tools, reams of paper, markers, vinyl signs, bike tubes, chalk, Frisbees (3 of them), socks, books, DVDs, baggies, first aid kits, pumps, and a surprisingly copious surplus of toilet paper all in a large plastic bin. The weight of things adds up.
All this weight, these hills, (and oh, did I mention the soggy downpour?) made THIS ride seem like it was going to be hell. And you know what?
It was easier! I understand that I probably have built up more leg strength in the past month but I do not think that was totally what made the journey easier. Teamwork and familiarity, I believe, did it. Expecting and remembering what was coming around the next bend brought back memories of the initial ride out of Wilmot and into Concord from the first time we rode together in our teams. I recall where we stopped to take a much needed brownie break, watching the animals at the meat farm across the street (who were not there upon riding back. RIP little piggies). I remember where we were when we passed the Mass 2 team as they were eating lunch and petting the horses. I also happen to remember the pitiful excuse of a shoulder at the crest of a certain hill, and yes, there is still heavy road construction just outside of Concord. All these memories distracted me enough to think about the previous month in review. So content I was as countless wonderful memories flooded my head, I couldn’t possibly be concerned with rain, hills, and potholes.
We finally arrived back in Wilmot to the homes of the Weavers and the Macdonalds, members of the North Wilmot Congregational Church. They graciously accepted our presence and were more than hospitable to tend our needs of sleep and hunger (and thirst! Mmmm espresso).
We had ridden 600 miles only to arrive back where we started.