Day 23 – Blessings for Better Bridges (November 24, 2020)

Night 23- Wilmington, NC

Editor’s Note: we skipped Day 22 because we lost track of the day numbering around Nov. 11th… don’t worry about it.

Yesterday was just a nice day. Not a perfect day of riding conditions, but nothing really bad happened. The day just started and ended with some great moments.

I woke up in a bed and started writing. Then I got interrupted by an article, shared in a group chat about a mutual friend. A story about how this particular medical worker went well above and beyond her duties to help a patient. A nice thing we all hope to hear, but to a degree that made me wonder two things:

1) How was it that this person almost died because of insurance neglect and denial?

2) How much more does this friend do that goes unrecognized?

Surely by this point she is close to proper saint-hood. I’ll share the link below, but understand that this article was requested and reported by the patient. This friend of mine only has a reflex for kindness paired with a drive to make people healthy and happy as possible.

So, with that on my mind, I started writing again.

Breakfast was over the top with 3 large waffles and all the coffee I needed. Our host, Ray, had done his fair share of touring and pulled out the physical copies of the next sections of our ride. Prior to the trip, I was told these maps were both very useful and awesome keepsakes. Now that I’ve seen the real thing in front of me, I totally agree. Unfortunately our entire route would cost about $1,200 for one full set of 4 major paths.

Maybe one day.

A glance at our next couple days and the weather leading into the holiday… we might get rained on for Thanksgiving. Here we go again.

With our bags packed and bellies full, Ray walked us out halfway up his drive so he could “bless us”. I don’t practice any one faith, but I appreciate good wishes and good intentions. Never say no to someone who wants to give you a chance at a better day.

But Ray pulls put his camera, says “smile” and then “there you go, now you’re immortal”. This 70+ year old guy with a surprising amount of energy just blessed us the same way he had his MANY other cycling guest that had come before us. Being the only host around he has had them all on this part of the route. Off he went inside and off we went into an actual cold fall morning.

After a short transition, we reached our first of two “mountains” for the day. Bridges. The most we will climb until Texas are bridges. Specifically the ones tall enough for bigger boats to roll right under. With another few miles of coastal beach house roads, we passed over our second bridge and headed inland.

Back on 17, but now we were also moving along on bike route 3. A newer set of companion signs for the rest of this path south.

A quick stop at a Lowe’s home improvement store* was needed for some hardware to fix Russell’s saddle, a star bit to tighten up the hardware on our panniers, and some seriously small tools to see if I could remedy the GoPro later. Taking turns sitting with the bikes outside was filled with people asking about the trip as they went in and out of the store. One gentleman and his child stopped to ask for bike advice for his own tour. He then said we could stay with him when we pass through Illinois. Why he is at this Lowe’s? Didn’t ask.

Lunch at subway preceded the major chunk for riding on 17. A highway with pretty decent shoulders, but those vanished when going through shopping areas and the speed limit dropped to and ignorable 35 mph. We then would stop at a Lowes grocery store. A name I had seen since my last trip to NC and I knew they had the only beer I would merit a stop for. It’s not mind blowing, but I’m not really a beer drinker. So when I can get a Red Oak to share, its just a nice way to end the day. Packed away for later we headed into Wilmington.

We needed to kill 2 hours before arriving so we found a park and broke out the chess board. A handful of kids and moms at the playground and a bike path to the side, it was a nice way to wind down from the ride. Then a mom came by asking if we had seen a 10 year old in maroon pants… kid hunt time. We dropped the bags on the ground and started doing laps around the whole park. Fortunately Russell found the kid (who easily could have been better described as having long blond curly hair) wandering along the bike path. Not wanting to be some guy chasing after a kid, he came back for the mom and all was well.

A little more chess and off we went to our host. Some more awesome people with a mountain of tales of other cyclists and their own tours. To be very brief, the mom was the tourist from Bend, Oregon and the husband was an obsessive hobbyist from France. Both wildly interesting people. Both people I would call friends. Dinner was wonderful, nonstop conversation that could last a few more days and even now as I’m typing this waiting for breakfast.

Sorry for the late post. These folks are worth putting the phone down for (As are most people). Now we get to plan how we will outrun or outsmart the rain.

Have an awesome day everyone!

Here’s the link to the article: https://www.aapa.org/…/one-patient-shares-how-pa-saved…/

And here are our normal links:

Bandofbikes.com

Instagram: @bandofbikes

Me: @_round_about_way_

Russell: @rlmichaud

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