"It is such a secret place,
the land of tears."
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I read an article not too long ago that said the chemical composition of tears changes according to what is causing them. I should have known that a tear is not necessarily a tear because their origins are often so different.
Today has been a wonderful day for a century ride and I have thoroughly enjoyed myself and the pace: not too fast and not too slow. The greenery still has not yet yielded to the dryer weather and heat and has maintained its verdant lushness. Animals cavort in fields. The company is superb. There is laughter and I find I can speak of him now, I can laugh at memories, and while there is still and may always be that deep longing for him, I does not always make me cry. So why, at the end, do I find a few tears seeping from my eyes? And why am I glad, for I have shed enough tears in the past seven months to float a battleship?
This was the last prep ride for Paris-Brest-Paris, and at the end I weep that I am not going this time. I am jealous of the adventures my friends will surely have without me, and even though we do not ride PBP together, I have felt a part of it. My eyes long for the sights of the French countryside and the music of that language, a language I have no understanding of but that goes through me like a song. I will miss the smiles of strangers, their kindness and wishes for my success somehow translated despite a language barrier. Some languages are harsh and strident to my ears, but the French language is soothing to me, like a lullaby. I will miss the pre-ride bicyles trip to Paris, the tempting foods and pastries, and the delicious feeling of belonging.
I will miss the pre-ride nervousness when you worry about your equipment and your fitness level and the weather and the route. And I will miss that moment when you settle into the rhythm of pedaling from control to control. I will even miss the weariness. And I will miss that moment when you realize that you are going to be successful in your quest to finish.
Yes, I made the right decision not to go this year. I am not prepared and remain unstable, emotionally, financially, and physically. But I wish that were not so. And despite the fact that I weep the loss, I am elated to find that I am jealous, that I do wish I could go, that somewhere inside me is the desire to ride more brevets, because I had thought that perhaps that part of me had died during my metamorphosis. And thus my tears, perhaps, are also tears of joy because I find that desire lives and has not died. Indeed, for a time during the darkest of my days, I contemplated giving up my bicycling. And while I know that eventually that day will come for me, as it will for all of us, it is not today.
And so, my friends, I will miss this adventure. But I will be thinking of you. And I will be there in spirit. I wish you good weather and a wind that aids you rather than slapping you in the face. But even if it is like 2007 where the wind and rain seemed determined to stop us, I know you will stare it in the face bravely and persevere. I will be thinking of you and expecting no less, sending my energy and my thoughts and well wishes in your direction.
Ride smartly. Go out slower than you think you can knowing that you can pick the pace up those last three hundred miles. Remember to eat and drink more often than you might think you need to. Mostly, remember to savor the journey and to take the time to find adventure because if you concentrate merely on riding quickly, you might miss the memories that are hidden there waiting to be found.
And I will be here patiently waiting to hear of your adventure, and perhaps, planning my own. Bonne route. Allez.....allez!