The phone call went something like this ...
"So I'm thinking about riding my bike from North Carolina to Texas. If you haven't got anything else going on, you want to come along?"
"Sure. When are we leaving?"
No hesitation. No let me think about it and I'll call you back. No anything. Only raring to go. Yes, just like that, my mom — who was 69 years old at the time — agreed to partake in all my madness, a seven-state cycling journey with a ton of unknowns. She was going to be in charge of the sag (support and gear) wagon and perform plenty of other important duties.
Well, as you all know, we did successfully make it to Austin in 2002, where I got to hang with Lance Armstrong and hundreds of his rabid supporters. I even got to go riding with the late Robin Williams. It was an epic trip; 23 days on the bike and cycling nearly 1,400 miles.
As my original story — Where's Patrick? — pointed out, it didn't take long for my mom and I to jell as a team. The routine of each day was smooth and easy, just like a well-tuned bicycle. Everything — from mapping routes to mom stuffing food into her bag at the hotel breakfast table for my snacking later in the day — was done with purpose and precision.
The hours she spent in the vehicle were endless, waiting — and still more waiting — for me to pedal by her stationary position. Then she'd go down the road another 10 miles or so, and we'd do it all over again. She deserved a medal just for that alone.
We only became lost from one another two times. One "missing in action" miscue was because I was dealing with a flat tire in Alabama, while the other incident occurred as mom was scouting for a public restroom. After that little scare, she decided that when nature called ... nature it was. What a trouper.
Pure and simple, it was a remarkable fantasy that became true. Even 18 years later, I think about it often. While I've thanked my mom on several occasions for her participation in our trek, it's a fact that I couldn't possibly have done it without her. She is the big reason I succeeded, despite her not getting nearly enough acknowledgement as I was grabbing all the glory.
And while I know she'd gladly come along on my next long-distance bike ride, I'm going to see if I can do it on my own this time. But I'll be thinking about her the whole way, as I'm dedicating my 2021 "Reunion Tour" to my mom. Thanks again for everything.