Last summer I took a bike trip with Teen Treks from Albany NY, to Cape Cod MA, and I have never done anything harder in my life. Before I got to the pretty, flat stretch of beach that I had been expecting, the Berkshires wore me out until I was nothing but pretzels and dirty clothing. I became accustomed to walking my bike up hills that trucks had to use low gear to come down. Everyday we pedaled from the bottoms of mountains to the tops. We saw dirt roads and highways, strip malls and antique shops – so many antique shops. We crept a mile into forests (our camping locations included Cherry Plain State Park NY, Windy Acres Campground in Westhampton, and Chester-Blandford State Forest MA, as well as a few backyards), pitched our tents and tried to stay dry and mosquito free. We had a few mishaps, including spilling a pot of chili on the ground and continuing to eat it. One time we washed our plates in a mud puddle at Tanglewood Music Festival in Lenox MA. We managed to sustain eight hungry bikers by cooking on two small gas grills. In the morning, we would roll our rain-soaked clothes into little bundles and strap them in with our spare tires, dry our tents while eating our oatmeal in a parking lot, and the routine would begin again. We couldn’t believe our luck when we stayed in the Marriott, Springfield MA, our halfway point. We took advantage of the Six Flags New England in Agawam, as well as took our first shower all week.
When we approached Cape Cod, we reached the most irritating leg of our journey. With no safe stopping point to rest, we choked through the steep assent to the Bourne Bridge, cars veering around us. After 1 mile of coasting over the bumpy shoulder of Route 6 to the chorus of swearing drivers, we reached the town of Sandwich. According to the other travelers waiting at the deli “we had caused a “5-mile backup”. Suggestion when traveling over the Bourne Bridge on bicycle: teeter along the 1-foot-wide sidewalk to avoid admonition from impatient beach-goers.
At times I loathed it more than anything, or, as my sister put it “I would cry if I didn’t already sweat out all my tears”. One time, after walking my bike a mile uphill at a 45-degree angle, a woman got out of her car and yelled at me for getting in the way of her air-conditioned gas-guzzler. It was those times that I wondered why I would ever even consider this trip, why I wasn’t sitting at my computer or sleeping under a legitimate roof. That fear and loathing is why I loved it. Nothing is ever so funny as when you’re laughing through tears and dizzy delirium at 90s pop songs. There is something to be said for battling through the worst physical and emotional challenge of your life and knowing that you only did it because you never believed you could. People could laugh or curse at you from out of their car windows and you could laugh and curse yourself, but it would be okay because it wasn’t about comfort, it was about accomplishing something nearly impossible. I became instantly close with the people I was traveling with, because they could understand and be angry, or exhausted, or whatever, with me. And when we finally got to Provincetown Cape Cod, fast food pizza and a shower had never been so sublime.
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