Today started like a normal day. Woke up at 8:00, did a little Yoga, ate Kashi with Soy Milk (RISKY I KNOW!), Took a test, practiced, went to class, ate a sandwich for lunch. Nothing risky besides the Soy Milk.
And then, I decided I was going to hang out on my fire escape. Now, to get to the fire escape, one must climb out of my bathroom window or climb up stairs. I decided to climb out of my window. Now the fire escape is a lovely part of my roof and doesn't look at all stable, but it held me and a friend while we chatted, supported me during a nap and reading, and was very stable for me. I'm excited to spend more time out there. On the way back in, I climbed back through the window and almost put my foot in the toilet.
I thought that might be the riskiest part of my day, but it wasn't. At 5:30, two friends of mine (Ben and Letsche) and I went on a bike ride. Being that it was the first ride of the year we weren't planning to go far, maybe just 12 miles or so. We headed to the Vermillion-New Castle Bridge in Nebraska and road over the Missouri River. At that point, we decided to continue on because it was such a nice day! There was very little wind, it was warm enough for shorts and a long sleeve shirt. So we road farther into Nebraska a came to the junction of HWY 19 and 12. A few of my friends passed us, and cheered us on! We were all indecisive on whether we should continue on, but then we saw a sign that said Maskell, Nebraska 3 Miles. Now, I knew that Maskell had the smallest City Hall in the US, but none of us had ever seen it before so we decided to ride. We continued to ride, and my friends made a loop and once again cheered us on. When we arrived at Maskell, we headed North for 3 blocks and there it was: The Smallest City Hall in America. It looks about the size of a Port-a-Potty.
We rode out of Maskell still feeling great about the day. It's still nice out, and we've only been riding for about 45 minutes. Ahead we see a sign that says New Castle 6 miles, once again we all are pretty indecisive. Letsche and I know that there is a good place to eat there called the Copper Stop that has buffet, and we think we can ride there, eat, and then ride home before it gets too dark. So we ride the longest 6 miles of the trip which are mostly uphill, but we finally get there. We walk into the Copper Stop and see that there isn't a buffet, so we order off the menu. (Being in a small town in Nebraska, there wasn't anything Vegetarian on the Menu... So grilled cheese for me.) Our bodies welcomed the break, but we are all freezing because we are no longer moving. It takes a little longer than expected to get our food, but the salad bar was great because it had Cookie's-N-Cream moose. Being that we burned around 500 calories, it tasted pretty great. When we were finishing, Ben looked out the window and saw that it was very dusk.
Once again, we hopped back on our bikes and rode. It got pretty dark, pretty fast. Because none of us had lights on our bikes and very little reflective gear, every time a car approached from behind, we headed off the road into the soft, muddy, ditch. We did this probably five or six times. It was a little bothersome not knowing if the driver saw you or not. Once we stopped, and I saw deer tracks. We looked up and the car that had just passed us, just about hit a few deer. Good thing they slowed down for us, because the deer and their vehicle may not have been so lucky otherwise.
The next challenge was riding on the bridge. This was really scary, but really really cool! Now, the bridge doesn't have much of a shoulder, and if a car doesn't see you, you've got a fall to your death down into the river. We made it past the bridge and no cars passed us luckily. We continued to ride and made it back into Vermillion. As we were going up our final hill on Dakota street, someone drove extremely close to us. We were all OK and made it, but it was a little too close for comfort after riding with a high stress level on the way home. We made it though, and I'm glad we took the chances.
Now I'm working in the Library. Working as in sitting. I'm glad for the chair. My body is tired. My shoulders and neck are sore. But I feel good, and I'm happy. I'm glad for the friendship with Ben and Letsche, and I'm glad we took every opportunity to go farther. I really like this quote by Muhammad Ali: "Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything." I know that friendship is making decisions that are absolutely crazy sometimes, but experiencing them together makes it worth every minute. I know that when I try to explain this adventure to anyone else, that only Ben, Letsche, and I will ever really understand exactly what it was like--our fears, our laughter, our tired aching bodies, the two clumps of Cookie's-N-Cream moose--but my hope is that each of you that read this experience that same type of friendship.
31.6 miles. Half in the dark. Ben pointed out that it sets the bar pretty high for our next ride. As I sit here eating my rice cake with Peanut Butter, I wonder what I'll do for tomorrow's risk?