Here he is, smiling---and he never stopped smiling through the whole thing---with the EMTs who cleaned up most of the blood from his face and hand:
1. The support for the ride was amazing. These EMTs were at every stop and driving in between to help anyone who needed help. At one point I saw a bunch of riders standing around a friend who was sitting on the ground, resting, while one of them was changing a flat tire, and these guys pulling up just ahead of them to walk back and check that they were all okay. There were uniformed cops and deputies at every junction where we needed to be directed to turn across traffic and/or traffic had to be routed around us. There were volunteers at every stop handing out snacks and drinks and ringing cow bells. At one rest stop, four teenagers stood just to the right of the road where we rode out, holding out their hands for high fives and yelling, "You can do it! Go, go, go!" And at the railroad tracks where a rider had fallen two years earlier, instead of just telling us to get off and walk our bikes over that slippery metal plate, they were still there telling us to ride slowly and single file, but they had also put some rubber matting over the tracks. In the town where everyone got traffic tickets a couple of years ago, volunteers stood on the corner of the street where the problem had been so they could warn each one of us, "This is not a four-way stop, Cross traffic will not stop for you, You have to come to a full stop before crossing," and so on.
2. The miracle of last year's riding buddy, or as we like to call him, my angel, Rick Geib, really WAS a miracle. All the riders I saw were super nice, but no one was looking for a riding partner. That was okay this year because now I knew what I was doing. But last year, when I needed that help, Rick showed up. (This year he couldn't make it but called Jason about halfway through to tell him he was with us in spirit and he will be riding with us next year.)
3. My real angel and support through this ride and all my training and riding is, of course, Jason. I can't even begin to describe all the things he has done and keeps doing to make these rides possible. I'm sure I'm not even aware of all of it. But, just a few things here: He keeps my bike working for me; sets up the bike rack and puts the bike on and off and again; drives me to wherever, and then between wherever and wherever else, and then back; makes sure I eat something in the morning and gets snacks for me throughout the day; and when we get home he takes everything off and out of the car and brings it in and puts it away and lets me rest.
4. And that's just on big ride days. On other days, he drives with me to the lake and walks down the trail with me till I get to where I'll start running, and then he goes back and waits in the car until I get back; he even drops me off at the gym and does shopping while I get a few minutes in there; he listens to me talk about this and that exercise, class, teacher, trainer, and so on; and he generally keeps me encouraged without pushing.