Sometimes in life you are thrown a curve ball. It takes you by surprise; it has the power to thwart, frustrate, and alter course. But, nonetheless, it is reality. Debbie and I were headed toward New Hampshire today intent on our ultimate destination of Houlton, Maine, when such a curve ball came our way. It is difficult to change course with roughly a week left in our tour and Debbie’s return to school looming–particularly so for these two task-driven people. But Debbie’s persistent intestinal cramping was beginning to become more than an ignorable inconvenience. My wife is tough–otherwise she would not have survived our first coast-to-coast nor been able to withstand the long cycling hours in mid-ninety-degree heat and humidity earlier in this tour. She is not easily deterred. However, the cramping was not going away; indeed it was nagging, becoming more uncomfortable, and slowing progress. So we gripped the handlebars hard and jerked them toward Marlborough, our home, deciding to divert for a day or so, pending a medical opinion–doing what we felt was right even though not easy.
After some medical review, Debbie’s condition was deemed not serious–thank goodness. But we do need some time and rest. We will now be watching the clock as we catch up on other matters, hopeful that she feels well enough to resume our Mom-to-Mom tour in the next day or two. Just like life, our bicycle touring experience has taught us that completing a tour does not come without challenges.
A curve ball is one opinion of what stopped our progress; God’s provision for safety is another. How is it that we have cycled without incident for 2,000 miles in more oppressive conditions than the past few days? Now, even as our bicycle route deposits us a mere few miles from our home and from services that can help us complete our journey, our instinct to seek medical attention overrides other goals. We’re glad the discomfort has occurred now as opposed to earlier.
I’m also reminded of a fresh accident scene that we rode through just a day ago in Connecticut. It appeared serious. Had we not taken a break a few miles earlier, would we have arrived at the accident scene and become part of it? Conventional wisdom says “timing is everything.” We are thankful that our destiny is in the hands of Someone greater than ourselves. There are so many life lessons taught on the road.
Debbie’s artwork of I-90 can come with perhaps different interpretations, but it certainly tells some of the story of life in this part of Massachusetts from my perspective. I like the depiction of the constant flow of traffic through the chain link fence. Surrounding is beautiful greenery, which often takes a back seat to the hubbub it tolerates. Debbie’s still shot was unable to capture the incessant whirr of rubber on asphalt, the revving of tractor-trailer engines, and the honking of horns by irate motorists intent on competing for lane spaces on the congested highways. I-90 interrupted our simple existence on bicycles for a short while as we cycled through tree-shrouded back roads, with their blind ups and downs, twists and turns. We were elevated above the fray, at least until we crossed the drag strip known as Route 9 several miles later. Here, we were right in the fray, awaiting the light to “start our engines.” Country roads, take me home!