'Tour de Blue' Epilogue:
Monday 10/18
Chicken Sense...

(Coming Up: Unabashed Commentary from Mike and Karyn, "Where Are They Now", More Pics of the Parkway)

When the government's unemployment statistics come out for the month of October, there will no doubt be a blip on the charts that can't be explained by pundits; and a worried Federal Reserve Chairman Allan Greenspan will speak of the irrational exuberance of the steeply rising rubber chicken market. But soon things will be back to normal - at least until Mike, Hans and I do something like this again.

People from literally all around the country have emailed us saying, "I've been laughing so hard at work I'm gonna get fired." Please don't take it the wrong way when I say that to us this is very gratifying. If you understand that, then you will understand when I say that life is too important to be taken too seriously.

The ride was not exactly all fun and games. Physically it was grueling. Then on Thursday morning (Day 5) we learned that Karyn's Mom had been found to have a large tumor which required an operation and biopsy later that day. Karyn's Dad had emailed us with the news the day before - but I hadn't checked email on Wednesday. I remember having to go to Karyn on Thursday morning and say, "um, Karyn..." And if you've read "Remembering Mrs. Santa" you know Hans and I recently lost someone important to us.

Yet for a whole week we three stooges, with the help of Karyn, cranked along the Blue Ridge Parkway going up the mountain, down the mountain, slinging rubber chickens, eating ridiculous amounts of strange food and really laughing (after proper administration of Advil and Power Gel). Is it bad to laugh in the face of unpleasant realities? Should you feel guilty for laughing at work?

Here, I think, is the answer. Throughout the week people told us so very enthusiastically of their own long bike adventures in other times and other places. Some tales put ours to shame. Polly Dyer, whom we met on Day 4, recalled so many details from her 1400+ mile 1949 Alaska trek with Dixie Woodburn, a "thirty-ought-six" and a fishing pole, that I just couldn't write it all down. Even better, Hans and I had never heard our father's Guestbook story about the camping trip until now. Pop never talks about his childhood! That was too cool! It means so much when so many other people share their excitement and reminiscences. I believe the jury verdict must be... not guilty. Appeal if you like. (And if we ever have the opportunity to make you get fired at work again we shall most surely take it!)

The chickens, Happy Man, Chrome Alloy Magdon Man, Tire Marks Brothers... yes it was hard, at first, for me to accept that they had a place on this trip. In fact when I saw rubber chickens come out of Hans' car on the evening before Day 1, Karyn and Mike nearly had to place Hans in protective custody. And you know what my temper is like. I had wanted a nice, controlled ride. But after surviving 469 miles and 48,000 feet of vertical climb I don't think it all could have been done without some rubber chickens, if you know what I mean. (Note: You may not believe this, but when I wrote the Mission Statement I had no earthly idea what Hans was planning... really, I am not lying!)

It is no secret that we humans don't always get what we want outta life - or we don't always want what we get - or we don't get it when we want it. Many people live in fear of missing out on their dreams, or screwing them up; and sometimes I am one of them. But here's a secret - if you loosen your stranglehold on life long enough to let it breath you often get much more than you would have asked for.

What's more, by getting together you can make things happen that don't seem to come to you when you go it alone. Mike, Hans or I would not have pulled this trip off as individuals. After all, we are really just weekend biking hacks who like to boast wildly of what we could do if we really trained. We drew great energy from each other and from our supporters, both online and off. That made this particular dream come true - and it was a hell of a lot more fun that way.

Consider this. My friend John K just called to tell me of the sudden death of his cousin with whom he was very close. She was just 19. What is it about youth that makes its loss so much more painful to bear? Youth represents the promise of what a life can be! But those of us who live beyond our youth have the opportunity right here in our hands. I have had 18 more years than John's cousin will ever have. I've still got a lot to do. Is the glass half empty, or half full? Hell, I'm just glad to have a damn glass! How 'bout you?

Find something you are passionate about. Do it passionately. Cry when it is time to cry. Laugh when it is time to laugh. Believe whatever you want to believe - but believe something. Create your own adventures. And share them!

Eric





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