What a great day for riding! It was warm. It was sunny. Good people, decent roads, lots of great scenery...those of you who ride know what I'm feeling.
I went with a group of 16 bikes that headed north from the hotel. The destination was the top of Mount Equinox, part of the Green Mountain National Forrest range in Vermont. We made good time, clocking about 80 miles in a little over an hour and a half. Good time, in this case, might be understood to mean that speed limits weren't necessarily obeyed. :)
We each ponied up $10.00 to pay the "toll" to open the gate at the bottom of the mountain.
We queued up to begin our ascent....and had to wait for the girl running things in the gift shop to come out and start chucking tokens into the toll gate, one token per bike, with a little "jiggle" of the token box to get the gate to open. The ride up the mountain really wasn't bad. A couple of hairpin turns, a few steep climbs, but nothing too harrowing. The view from the top...green. Green everywhere. Trees, trees, and more trees.
It really was beautiful. You can see for just about ever, I'm guessing you can easily see New Hampshire and New York, maybe even Massachusetts, from up there. The trip up and down reminded me a lot of Brockway Mountain Drive, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, only the road was in better condition and Mount Equinox is a lot taller than Brockway Mountain.
We all stopped for lunch in Manchester, and I decided that I'd ride back to Lenox on my own. The group ride up was great. Lunch with my fellow riders was wonderful fellowship, but...
...sometimes...a man just needs time to himself.
I choose to head north out of Manchester, taking Route 30, Route 100, Route 8, and Route 9 in a loop around the national park, and back down to our rally location. It was a good 106 miles. Lots of time to think, to look around, and to notice...
On August 28 & 29, 2011, the remnants of hurricane Irene unleashed their fury on the New England states. The results were devastating. There was widespread flooding, damage to roads, bridges, homes, businesses...and lives were lost. To be honest, they've done a great job cleaning up the damage. There are new bridges everywhere. Roads have been patched. The obvious signs have pretty much been taken care of...but the less obvious ones remain.
Route 100 follows rivers and streams through the mountains. If you're not paying attention, it's easy to miss the fact that there were devastating floods just 9 months ago. But...if you look closely...you can see the signs. The riverbeds are often still full of debris; trees uprooted by the waters as if they were merely toothpicks. The banks of the streams and rivers are torn apart; earth rent asunder and opened like a gaping wound by torrential waters. The cleanup crews have come in and done great work, but they can't do much for the river banks. Those have to heal on their own; nature has to take over and take however long it needs to "reset" the river's edge.
It was these images that stirred my empathy. I could understand this devastation. It felt familiar. Not because I've lived through physical floods...because it's how I feel on the inside, like there are parts of me that have been flayed open, exposed for the world to see, not by choice, but by catastrophic chance.
It's been over 15 months since I lost Sara and Miranda on that snowy highway; but, the banks of my "river" still feel exposed, torn apart by the flood of grief. Everything uprooted, spun around, and jumbled into a debris field called "my life." You, my friends and family, are my cleanup crew. You've helped rebuild the bridges, patch the roads, get the utilities turned back on...but, I'm slowly learning that the banks of the river take longer to recover.
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Location:Lenox, MA, USA