It turns out the last few hours of a road trip also feel like the longest. Our 5-and-half-hour drive - our shortest of the past 4 days - took us from Hays, Kansas, to Boulder, CO, home of our dear friend and hostess extraordinaire, Grace Moore (who was my support team for the Type Rider I project in 2012 and piloted a 40-foot-long Winnebago for the bulk of that trip). We made few stops along Interstate 70, wanting to just get there already, but managed to sneak in a visit to the world's largest art easel in Goodland, KS, and powered the rest of the way through with Comedy Central radio, occasional photos of the highway, and fruit gummies. After almost 2 days in Kansas, the first sight of the Rockies made us squeal. We arrived to Grace sitting in her lawn chair, taking videos of us coming up the drive. And a message in chalk written on the street, saying "You are HERE." And now we are really ARE here, in the alpine Colorado air, with trees and mountains all around, and the grilled steak we ate tonight felt particularly satisfying, and the salad tomatoes especially sweet, and Stef is on her way from San Francisco, and tomorrow Amy & I will ride the tandem to Community Cycles and build our first library and write poems into the afternoon. We are doing a light load of laundry and drinking another glass of water and taking a deep breath, and counting our lucky stars that we have made it to the starting line.
This is about connections. This is about the universe working in mysterious ways. This is about meant-to-be. This is about Francien and Tijn.
You may remember we wrote about them during our Kickstarter campaign. They found us via a tweet from Rails to Trails and contacted us to let us know they would be riding a recumbent back-to-back tandem bicycle from L.A. to N.Y. this summer just a few days ahead of us. They promised to leave a trail of breadcrumbs for us, as the midwestern part of their route would take them to some of the same stops our route would take us a few days later.
As bad luck might turn good on occasion, they lost a spoke on their front tire a couple of days ago, which required a new wheel to be made in California and shipped to them before they could get back to riding. This meant they had to sit tight for a few extra days . . . in BOULDER, CO! We arrived at Grace & Jerry’s house this afternoon and a few hours later we were riding down Iris Court side-by-side with Francien and Tijn, listening to their tales from the last several weeks on the road, and making plans to meet again when they end their trip in August in New York.
I asked Francien what had sparked their desire to make this journey across the country and she told us a story from her childhood when she would borrow her mother’s bicycle and ride from their home in the Netherlands 15 miles to a town in Germany where she could buy chocolate cheaper than she could by it near her home. For the same price, she could buy 2 bars instead of one and so every week she would make the 30-mile round trip trek for chocolate. Her love of cycling was born and when she met Tijn, of all the people in the universe, he, too, was interested in cycling across the United States on a tandem.
Isn’t is marvelous the way things happen? The way small connections spark larger ones? The way an email becomes a friendship? The way a cereal bowl becomes a song? The way you sometimes find a needle in a haystack when you didn’t even know you were looking for one?