Home from RAGBRAI XXXVI and processing. Physically and emotionally recovering from an intense week of communal living and the challenges that come with spending 7 days traversing the varied Iowa terrain in the elements of nature on a bike. Tired, browned, a bit sore, and full of a whirlwind of emotion that's hard to explain to someone until they have experienced what is the phenomenon of RAGBRAI.
This year our crew took out on our own, living in a gorgeous old Airstream (and a few tents) driven by my very dear friend Marie. The brothers and sisters together again...with a few new members. A crew of 8, spanning 15 years in age, from various places across the country, and quite different lives outside of RAGBRAI. Put us all together and watch out! We bring the dance party everywhere we go and I can't imagine a group of people I'd rather share this experience with than our team. My love for each of them runs deep and true and forever. Their presence is missed today as I sit here "alone", telling my story.
Last year I was most worried about the physical challenge of riding my bike almost 500 miles in a week. And while it is a physically challenging event each time you attempt it, it's probably the easiest part of the week for me from which to recover. I trained so much more this year that I expected the ride to go a little easier than it did. I was a bit disappointed in my "performance", but remembering that it's not a competition or a race to be won, I rode a good strong ride. I rode alone much more than I would have liked, not having the distraction of conversation to help me through many a mile, but making peace with that demon part way through the week made the rest of my ride much more enjoyable. Our team, while mostly casual riders who's biggest biking challenge each year is RAGBRAI, are all good strong riders and this year I had to accept that I was often the sweeper at the rear of the pack. Having a personality that prefers to be the one in the lead, it was a good lesson in graciously allowing others to take that place for the week.
My biggest emotional struggle this week was a big surprise I didn't see coming while preparing for this year's adventure. Our group is full of amazing, strong, creative, intelligent, beautiful people which I LOVE dearly. So it was a big surprise when I found myself feeling out of place and wondering just where I fit in the big picture of our team. While in my day to day life I tend to be the one "in charge" in many situations, in this group that's not my place. So it was a bit uncomfortable and confusing figuring out my role. Larger (and yes, a group of 8 is large enough) groups tend to bring out my more introverted side and I start to feel lost in the background. I know nobody would expect me to feel that way, or wish for me to feel that way, it's just an old insecurity that starts to surface with which I need to make peace. I need to believe in who I am and that I too am a strong, beautiful person with much to contribute to the experience, even if it's done in a quieter manner. I'm working on it. Obviously it's still a work in progress.
Emotional ups and downs aside, it was an amazing week full of love, good times, and memories that will forever live in my heart. A reminder that every day we should dance, laugh, move, and appreciate that which has been given to us that day, at that moment. A reminder of how very blessed we are to have the chance to take a whole week each year to do nothing more than ride our bikes in the beauty of nature and then party like there's no tomorrow...only to get up after a few hours of sleep and do it again. A reminder of the value of friendships, sisterhood, family, and love.
Processing...and looking ahead to '09.