Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Day 38 Waxahachie to Waco

We rode today. Dave, Diana and Rich Howell. Dennis and Amy supporting us from the van.

I wasn't sure it would happen.

We struggled with this. I knew this is what Don would have wanted. His wife Andrea was also sure of this. Yet emotionally, Diana (Don's little sister and my wife) wasn't sure we were ready. After  long talks with Don's family we agreed we would ride. But the misgivings were still there.

I texted Rich, who had bought tickets months ago to fly from California to Dallas to join the ride. He was planning to cancel his ticket and join us later in the trip.  I instead, encouraged him to come. And he did. He arrived yesterday afternoon.

I soon regretted this. Diana was now feeling that she wasn't ready and that we should take a pause. I agreed but felt trapped. Rich flew out to join us and now we didn't want to ride.

So we slept on it.  Diana told me in the morning that she wanted to ride...in the moment she told herself that she could and would ride, she felt an emotional release and felt Don's support.

Diana had flown to Dallas, as soon as she heard the tragic news of Don, with no intention of riding,and did not bring any biking accessories. Her bike was still in the van, but nothing else. So she came out this morning  wearing Don's clothes, helmet and shoes. She had tightened the shoes to their maximum snugness, and hoped that the oversize shoes would not hurt her feet.
And she told us she felt Don surrounding her.

We drove the first miles to Waxahachie to avoid miles that Don often referred to as "junk miles". Junk miles are miles with traffic, stop signs, light after light etc.

The first thing we did in Waxahachie was visit her Uncle Harry and Aunt Flo.  Both are doing extremely well and are living independently despite being in their late 80's. Hugs and support abounded. I was so happy to get a chance to see them again.

We then drove to the Wagahachie Dog park and started preparing to ride. It was drizzling. And cold. I was going to say, 'let's just drive' but Diana was already on her bike testing out the fit of her shoes...

getting bikes out..

Diana getting ready to go

So we rode..

I now felt lighter. I needed this. I think deep down I knew this was right for me and right for Diana. I think I had been afraid to give myself permission to do this. Now my only fear was that one of us would get hurt. But I was glad we were doing this.

I mentioned to Diana, "I can feel Don's presence. I think he's in the van laughing at us". We laughed through the rain.

Soon the rain stopped. A beautiful tail wind came up and carried us forward. Don was with us. We flew through Italy, Texas. I looked at Diana riding. Protected in the front by me and in the back by Rich. I was so glad Rich came. Had he not, we would likely have not ridden.

We reached our lunch spot only to find the little quaint cafe we found on Google maps had closed three months ago. We kept looking for a place and finally happened on a small grocery store that looked ready to fall apart. They had a small deli section and we were told they  could make sandwiches for us.

We all ate up and had a good talk with the young girl who had made our sandwiches She was fascinated by our story. "I've never been to California or New York. Never left Texas!" She  then said, some day she was just going to go out and walk and walk, just like Forest Gump, her favorite movie. Soon she  was quoting lines from the movie and Diana and her were singing lines from "Against the wind".

We told her about Don and she expressed  " Oh no, how sad". Then without hesitation she said "It's good you're riding." She added, "It's also good thing you didn't eat too much.  You won't be able to ride if your tummy's too full!!" She really help lighten the mood.

The rest of the ride was good. It was different than any ride we have done on this journey. I was not riding for Heart Across America. I wasn't riding to prove a point or keep a schedule. I was riding because I needed to ride. For me. For Don. I think the same was true for Diana and Rich. The rhythm of  our ride was meditative. It  was calming.

It may be true that I'm not facing the hurt and that this will make it hurt deeper and longer. But I'm in no hurry for the hurt to go away.

As we cleaned our bikes I once again felt pangs of regret. Missing Don. It's not the same, Never will be.

But I could still feel the  bits of the relief I felt while riding. The intermittent  laughter and joy between periods of  sorrow and contemplation were still fresh in my mind. I'm glad we did it.


  1. Beautiful, Dave. I'm smiling, with tears in my eyes. XO

  2. Thinking of all you...thank you for continuing your journey...

  3. What a beautiful post, David. We can almost feel the pain you, Diana, and Rich must be enduring. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and emotions ... it can't be easy. Hugs to all of you.

  4. Dave and Didi
    I can see this was a very tough ride to get underway. Glad Rich is there, hope he can ride with you a while. Do what you need to do for yourselves to stay healthy and strong. Thinking about you guys all the time.
    Carl Butler

  5. Dave and Didi
    I can see this was a very tough ride to get underway. Glad Rich is there, hope he can ride with you a while. Do what you need to do for yourselves to stay healthy and strong. Thinking about you guys all the time.
    Carl Butler

  6. Dave...clearly a introspective day, and you captured it wonderfully...I am so happy you and Dedi were able to get on the bikes and enjoy your time with Don... Ride with the wind will have a whole new meaning for those lucky enough to have known and ridden with Don. Take care my friends!

  7. Dave, thanks for this post and for sharing your thoughts. I just heard/read about Don's passing, and I'm so sorry for you all and the rest of his family. I just met him on April 17th for the ride from Albuquerque to Moriarty in New Mexico, but I really enjoyed getting to know him some. I remember riding with him through town, and he came up and asked me how much I ride with genuine interest and them gave me some helpful pointers - like raising my seat :) He was so kind, and it's hard to think about him being gone - at least physically. I'm glad you all decided to ride today - for the sake of your own souls. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to ride without him, but it makes sense that it probably helped with a bit of healing - which I imagine will take a long time. I didn't meet Andrea, but my heart goes out to her on the loss of her husband. I pray for God's peace over you all as you process through the hurt and for wisdom on the decisions to be made.

  8. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings on your first ride without Don. Over here in England I am training for the London to Brighton Bike ride (54 miles) on the 21st June. Originally I was riding to support my uncle Sean but now there are so many more motivations- for Don and to support you Dave. And to raise awareness of what all you guys are trying to achieve! I will be keeping up with your blog as I get closer to my ride. Good luck and best wishes. Sara

  9. Dave, Andrea, Didi and Amy, thinking of you all at this time. It was an absolute honour to cycle with the peloton in CA - I am so so sorry for your loss yet inspired by your positivity and strength - Huge hugs to all. Karen

  10. Friend of Karen Atkinsons reading the blog:
    Wow! How heart-tuggingly sad but also inspirational at the same time. A phrase a good friend of mine used was simply "leave it on the tarmac". I have since then spent many many miles pondering various issues and his phrase keeps ringing true. Think on the bike, leave it on the tarmac - its very refreshing for the soul.
    Best wishes to you all.
    Ben Anderton

  11. Dave, I'm very sorry to hear about Dan, like yourself he was a great riding partner. Take care and 'ride on', see you.

  12. Dave, Diana and Amy

    Our hearts go out to you, our wonderful neighbors. We've been following the ride and were crushed to read about Don's passing. Our thoughts go out to you in this very difficult time.

    With Love,

    Benjamin, Alicia and Paul

  13. Dave-
    I know this was very hard for you and Dedi to do the ride and to write about your complex emotions, but I'm glad you were able to do both. I hope each passing day gets easier, and perhaps other experienced riders will join you on this journey. It really does mean a lot to me and Amy to honor brother Don in this way.
    Take care,

  14. Hi Dave,

    I can't imagine how horrible the last few days have been for you, your family, and your comrades-on-wheels. There is no WHY to something like this; it just IS. The only real silver lining is the opportunity to show character by making something positive happen. Horrible times are what produce heroes - mostly unsung. And make no mistake; by pressing on you are doing something heroic. HAA started as a fundraiser, but it is obviously turning into something more.

    If you hadn't persevered, I think you would all have regretted giving in to the temptation to bag the whole thing. It's hard, but I think you will find some healing along the way as you create meaning and purpose for yourselves while inspiring the rest of us and doing something selfless that greatly benefits others - the adversity be damned.

    Please ride safe; we need you back when you're done. Good luck and strong tailwinds the rest of the way!