Rode out on a Dirty Kanza 200 training ride last week. It was not a planned ride but friend of mine could tell I was focusing and told me to get out. So I did. No planned route. East, West, North, South. I geared up and feeling like crud hopped on the bike. I had decided North by the end of the driveway. Northeast of Emporia is someplace I haven’t ridden much but now that I’m living in Thorndale, it’s convenient. Now, I like to have a destination so I decided on Reading. Just a quick 30 mile ride. I road about 30 minutes before I realized where my bike was in fact taking me. Grandpa’s Bridge.
I rode my first century ride two years ago. First ever. First over 60 miles. I chose the date and the accomplishment specifically. My grandpa had been putting up a hell of a fight for a number of years. Heart. He’d fought well beyond where the doctor told him he’d be able to. I loved him very much. He was very proud of his grand children. He loved us all. We all did things that made him proud and he was careful to love us all equally. I remember how proud he was when I finished college. He truly admired that degree. I remember his excitement as I started my own business. I never asked him if he was disappointed when I made the decision to sell it off.
I received a call the day before from my mom that tomorrow would be the day. The doctors were sure this time. Grandpa was sure this time. I decided that I would be on my bike when I received the call. Grandpa would have liked that. He used to take us on motorcycle rides. I’d sit on the motorcycle with him. Grandma would be behind us on her moped. We’d ride out of town, up onto a big hill and watch the traffic race by. The world would race by. I loved those rides.
So I set out for a century. I intended to hit all the towns/places of my childhood. I hit Americus, Kahola, Dunlap, Bushong, Allen, Admire, Miller and was on my way to Reading when I got the call. I saw my moms name on the caller ID and I ignored it. Not yet. Not this place. I pedaled hard. I pedaled angry. I pedaled until I came down this hill, around this corner and saw this little bridge in the shade. Yup, this was it. This was time and this was the place. I stopped. I cried. I did the guy thing and fought it hard but tears came anyway. I made the call, received the official news and just sat there for awhile. It had been a good ride. It was a nice quiet little place. Grandpa would have liked it. I enjoyed the moment, shed a few more tears and then rode on. I had to finish what I started that day.
Now, I don’t believe in signs or any of that stuff. I will say this though. I was glad my bike took me too that bridge last week. I’ll always have a lot of fun riding my bike in the middle of nowhere. When I’m on my bike, my world seems to slow down even though I know it’s still racing for everyone else. I like that feeling. I think Grandpa did also.