Day 42: 171 miles
I decided I wanted to set out at 2am to push to Yorktown. I told my friends from Oregon that I would be getting up early, and they woke up early to pray with me before I left and to send me off. I was already very tired since I only slept for about 3.5 hours, and I didn’t even sleep well during that time. But once again, I could keep down a decent amount of food in the morning which made me feel better about riding a huge day. I loaded up on snacks and pushed hard in the morning. I had completed my first 72 miles by 8:30am. I was able to enjoy an incredible sunrise over the lake and seeing many, many animals in the early morning. I saw several deer and even a bear in the distance. In Ashland, Prince Purple from the Facebook group had been waiting for me. He pushed back a meeting to make sure he saw me. I went over to a cafe after spending some time with him for some caffeine and a bagel. On my way out of town, my next door neighbor David from home pulled up alongside me in his car with his family. He pulled over and got his bike off the bike rack to ride the last 100 miles with me! It was really good to have his company since I was incredibly exhausted both mentally and physically. While we were riding, we crossed over interstate 81. It just so happened that my parents and my girlfriend were approaching the bridge at the same time in the car driving from Pennsylvania, and they were able to see me riding by. Trail angels were also huge in carrying me to the finish. Deb, Linda, Jeanne, and a few others were on the roadside at different points handing me drinks and some snacks. They were all positioned at just the right place for when I needed them. Their encouragement through the food, drink, and conversation always got me back on the bike in a little bit of a better mindset no matter how I was feeling. The Capital trail was also beautiful. It was so relaxing to not have to worry about riding with traffic for a while. As we got closer to the finish, I kept getting more and more emotional. The countdown on my GPS telling me how many more miles to the finish also meant how many more miles to my family. I had missed them like crazy, and they were huge in getting me out in the race and getting me through the roughest parts of the race. As soon as I heard the bells and cheers coming up the last little hill, I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. And then I saw my parents and girlfriend by the monument, and the tears came faster. My mom gave me a quick high five as I rode past, I hopped onto the monument, and touched it, making the finish official! I turned around and hugged my girlfriend, then my mom, and then my dad. Embracing them made me realize I had ridden all the way back home. Many others were there to greet me and congratulate me and even brought me some cold drinks. We all took pictures and enjoyed celebrating what I have been able to accomplish. Having the support from my family, friends from home, and new friends from the monument provided an overwhelming feeling of joy, pride, and humility. Everyone came out to celebrate me, and I was incredibly appreciative of all the support. After riding across the country solo, it was awesome to be able to celebrate the end with so many people. I went to sleep that night knowing that I had accomplished greatness, but only through the help of many.