Life is not only a journey but a drive, such a drive where you take each lane, road, construction, detour or traffic as they approach…
Sure there’s a goal destination but it is always comforting to know the route and to have stops along the way. Sometimes we get so caught up in the final arrival we lose track of the ride and scenery along the way. There are times where you coast, enjoy the view on a cruise, accelerate yourself to the top or you fly so fast down hill you don’t realize your own speed.
This past week I participated in my first day of RAGBRAI. For those who don’t know, RAGBRAI is an acronym for…The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. It is an annual seven-day bicycle ride across the state of Iowa. RAGBRAI is one of the oldest, largest and longest recreational bicycle touring event in the world. There are towns, communities, businesses and sponsors along the way to not only encourage you and provide for you but also take care of you.
I was so nervous to par take in this ride because it was my first year, I wasn’t in “bike shape” and I was intimidated by the experienced masses. I got over my fear and proceeded into the crowd with my best friend by my side. I felt like a child going to camp for the first time, anxious and excited. Once you got the first cycle in, you were comfortable and proceeded the path.
It was one of the most challenging and yet uplifting adventures I have endured. I learned so much about the tour, flow of traffic, rush of the vehicles and a took a deeper meaning from the ride.
On my ride, the environment for majority of the day was bikers, open corn fields, family owned farm land, assortments of nature and the road ahead of your bike. You are constantly surrounded by all different people, which all share the same journey as you. Some come for different reasons, traditions, groups, uniforms, celebrations, music, agenda etc. The beauty of it all is, at the end of the day you all arrive to the same destination and all need to work together for a smooth finish.
You engage with your fellow riders, you signal your move only if it affects them, you speak closely to the one next to you, you assist those on the side of the road, you encourage those at a slower pace and you come in contact with so many groups.
You see those struggling, smiling and pedaling through the same road and it motivates you to do the same. There is no age, size, race, sex or quantity limit … If your desire is to ride, nothing is in your way.
This day was so special to me because everyone came together as one. You approached every person and path with ease. You found joy in the open road and local services. You are not judged for your chosen pit stops or your pace. It is a journey driven by your own given energy and support by those surrounding you.
This to me is the simplistic form of life. A glimpse of what your life could be if we all practiced the same equal peace, love and joy with our surrounding participants. The route in RAGBRAI is like our drive in the journey of self discovery and nirvana. All of these people devoting their mind, body and soul to the self-driven adventure. You experience new people and places for different quantities of time.
Every encounter is always seen as fresh and beneficial. You cherish the scenic stroll to your current home or nourishment. You connect with all of those who share your space. Everyone is accepted on the road and appreciated along the way. It is so amazing when a community is brought together and so powerful to be apart of such a blissful movement.
Lance Armstrong has participated the last six years in RAGBRAI and makes it a point to really get to know the towns and people who make his route. He is able to further his love for cycling and passion of the sport with a different back-drop and crowd. After his incident in 2005, Iowa was his first cycling event since confessing and being called a “cheater.” Iowa has always been supportive of him and accepted him to still be apart of their tour.
He enjoys returning to RAGBRAI and spoke on Iowa and the participants, “I’ve been here before, and I know what the people of the state are like, and I know what the riders of RAGBRAI are like,” he said. “I didn’t expect a wave of hostility.” He then described RAGBRAI to the Des Moines Register as Woodstock meeting the Tour de France meeting something else.
We are all the driving force and riding influence on this journey of life. We all carry our own baggage and struggles along the way. It is up to us to discover the path ahead of us, understand the pavements given and value the pit stops which make our self-trip all worth it.
Everyone has their own chosen joy ride, Everyone asks for guidance on their trip and Everyone needs headlights in the dark.