Day 34: Putting the Brakes on Oklahoma

Was awoken by an acoustic cover of Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” as sung by Hilary accompanied by Kelp on guitar as a promposal for Christina, who loves Celine and was on a couch in my room. That left only me waiting to be asked to prom, and RTK to ask me. Had a panic attack when I saw the number 97 written after the word temperature on the board in the morning. I asked Melissa if B&B had a heat policy. She answered, “don’t be a dummy. Get in the van if you need to.” This did not sound like a policy to me. I kept up the panicking. 

Meegan found me looking upset and talked to me about her strategies: don’t think about all the miles at once and force yourself to choke down at least a water bottle before the ride starts. I felt better and ready to go, but I had asked Kelp to help me with my too-tight brakes, he had loosened them too much then handed them off to JoHo to fix that, and JoHo said that they were too far gone so I shouldn’t ride. So I got in the van after all. 

The 97 turned out to be an exaggeration, or at least not yet. Instead, there was a thunderstorm. Rob, Katie S and I stopped at a gas station to set up lunch, then moved a few yards to a 1950s or so era abandoned gas station to fulfill Nick’s Instagram dreams. Katie and I got “Joe’s Gotta Have It” eggs and hash browns at Mr. Joe’s Diner across the street, and I mixed mine with kale. I mentioned dot Jack that I hand yet been asked to prom. He immediately conferred (secretly, I guess he thought) with RTK, who brought over a box of doughnuts with a card that said Jenna S. in crayon. The inside read, I Do-nut want to go to prom with anyone but you. Will you go with me? and then with checkboxes: yes, no, maybe. Every O was drawn as a doughnut, and the box held a dozen doughnuts. It was so romantic, of course I said yes. RTK said she had been searching for a doughnut place to pull the promposal off for the last few nights.

Memphis, Texas hosted us in its civic center, though we still got a tour of the 100 year old church (Presbyterian) across the lot for good measure. Went to the town pool for a short swim and shower, then JoHo worked on my brakes. Dinner was brisket, beans, corn, and crudite. Then I couldn’t find my yellow hydration backpack anywhere so Rob drove me back to the pool and we got the employees to come open it, but it wasn’t there. Stayed and talked with Rob about the trip for a while. He said we have a very fast group and I’m probably comfortable at a 14 mph pace or so, which makes me a strong biker who just got stuck with a fast group. I wish there were anyone else at my riding speed and style so I wouldn’t be an outlier. I shouldn’t have to be one, but because of the relentlessness of the schedule and the extraordinary abilities of everyone around me, somehow I’m not the average but the exception. I wonder how my summer would be going in a different group, where enough people were of a normal pace so that the faster people either had to ride alone or slow down, or if we had shorter mileage each day so the times when I get exhausted and start to stand out just wound exist. 

In the end, my bag was under someone’s bathing suit at the civic center. 




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