Reflections on riding Ragbrain 2011

My father had a saying, “Shoot for the stars and you might hit the side of the barn.” I guess he was trying to be funny, but as a member of the “dream big” generation of the 70’s and 80’s, I thought he was being a bit too cynical. I think of him now as I reflect on my Ragbrain (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa NOT) experience.

My dream was big, turning sixty, a team named after my mother (Marvel’s Marvels),siblings crossing our home state as senior citizens atop our mighty bikes. The dream started to fall apart in May, when one of the team members announced that she would not be doing the ride. That brought us town to a team of one. (An important lesson, this, that a team should likely have at least four members).

As a team of one, I looked around me for others to join me. Could my husband take a week off work? Could I hook up with any strangers from the area who might be going? It was already June. Things were looking bleak.
Then the unspeakable happened, my mother passed out and landed in the hospital for a week.

That was the beginning of July.

Mom’s back home doing better after only a month out of the hospital. She turns 90 on August 3rd, when my eldest son turns 21. I turn 60 September 7th. The summer of birthday celebrations is not going according to my original plans. I’m hitting the side of the barn more often than the stars.

Dad has been gone for the 21 years of my son’s life, plus one. His birthday is August 15th.

Maybe Dad wasn’t trying to be funny at all. Maybe he was just trying to tell me something about life, like that hitting the side of the barn happens, too, and…well, really, no big deal, right Dad?

What’s that more recent cliche that I dislike so much, “shit happens”?

And then there’s this one, that I learned a long time ago, “turning shit to roses.” I’m working on it, Dad.


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