Signs of hope

This weekend, after raising over $6,000 with your help, I rode 192 miles to fight cancer. I owe great debts of gratitude to all of you who donated to the ride. Those of you who haven’t yet donated, there’s still some time to make your donation.

The long journey to get to this weekend almost made the rides seem short.

Almost.

The first day was 111 miles and the second was 81, and among 5,200 riders and 3,100 volunteers, there were more stories in each day than I’ll ever have the time to tell, but I’ll spend the next few days sharing a few that will give you a feel for what the ride is like. Some stories are big and some, like this first, are about the smaller details.

Over such long courses as these, there are many signs along the way, some directional, many inspirational, and a few puzzling ones. Before we even turned our pedals once, there was a sign of…well…I’m not quite sure what, when we heard that, for perhaps the first time ever, Senator Brown (MA-R) might actually say to Senator Kerry (MA-D), “On your left.”

Then there were the road signs, most of which I didn’t stop to take pictures of, but some of which I puzzled over for miles after passing them. This one was more straightforward and I stopped to take this shot mostly as a tribute to my longtime companion. He didn’t die of cancer. Or perhaps he did. I’ll never know, although I choose to believe that his seemingly ceaseless supply of cussedness ran out.
Then there were the puzzlers…and I admit that I’m not from New England, so there is a language barrier to contend with, which might explain some of my confusion.

The first puzzler was

Thickly settled

To which my first reaction was, I know that I’ve put on some weight, but who are you calling fat, buddy? But then I saw the second sign, attached to that one. Together they read

Thickly settled horse crossing

I guess it’s a good thing that horses can’t read, because I’m pretty sure you’d get a kick in the head if that horse could read that sign.

The next puzzler was

Slow nursing home ahead

I sat down for over an hour for that one…and damned if that nursing home didn’t move an inch in that whole time. I guess they were right–it really does move slowly.

The next one was confusing because I finally felt like I understood the local lingo when I came across it, and I couldn’t believe the misspelling in it. We were coming off one sharp turn down a hill, all moving pretty fast when we whipped past this sign

Wicked hard right

I was so proud of myself as a Californian for being able to translate that on the fly, while banking around a gravel-filled turn in heavy bike traffic at over 20 miles an hour. I think I did see one rider shoot straight ahead into the crowd of supporters while trying to pull their New England Berlitz phrase book out of their jersey pocket.

But what confused me was that second word…there’s no “r” in there. Everyone knows damn well that it’s spelled “hahd,” as in…

It was wicked hahd to not cry seeing all the signs lining the road for all the kids who were saved with the money you donated, and wicked hahd to not cry when I met this dad in the last few miles of the ride and talked with him about his daughter:

I’m working to make cancer history. Will you help me?

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