Our final day started at Discovery Bay overlooking the water. Most of the day would either be on the Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT) or backroads. I’ve been looking forward to this leg of the trip. I’m in my own backyard, and there’s something significant about coming home after a long challenging journey. At Discovery Bay, my entourage (six cyclists and two runners) and I were met by two other cyclists, Wallace and a friend who would ride the entirety of the day with us. We started off on what ended up feeling much like a victory lap throughout the day. There were many points along the route which would be meet up points for friends, family, and fans.
A little ways before we reached our first meet up spot at Diamond Point we would have to ride on Highway 101 briefly. We were provided a police escort from the state police as we entered the highway. At the sight of the flashing lights Matt Marks’ instincts kicked in, and he was seen running into the bushes. After realizing the police were there to support us, Matt came out of the bushes and got back to running. While running behind the escort Matt was heard to say, “This is the first time I’ve ever chased a police officer.”
We arrived at Diamond Point where there was quite the welcoming party. There were a lot of supporters with signs and positive vibes. My favorite kind of women, Women on Wheels, a local cycling club, joined our growing group. We were now becoming quite the spectacle, if we weren’t already. I asked Dr. B. for a head count, but he can’t count past twenty, so I only know there were more than twenty of us now.
After a quick interview and some rest, we continued on the ODT working our way to the next welcoming party waiting for us at Carrie Blake Park. At times today it felt like I was already done with IansRide and was just out on one of my daily rides on the trails. But we still had a job to do, and we still needed to finish these last twenty or so miles. Even though we didn’t have much car traffic today, we made up for it clogging the trails with cyclists, runners, skateboards, and wheelchairs. My trusty domestique Chauncey was there managing the chaos like only he can. It may have been more difficult than dealing with semis on highway 20 at certain points. Throughout the ride I have avoided any type of off-road terrain fearing my chair would acquire enough wear and tear and didn’t need any extra stress. Not to mention, it’s not too comfortable for me either. That being said, today was the last day, so we rode on a quarter mile dirt path to make things more interesting.
Just before reaching Carrie Blake, my good friend and fellow quad Kenny Salvini joined us. I’ve been waiting for Kenny to get off his lazy ass and join me. #getoffyourasskennysalvini. We kept calm and rolled on into Carrie Blake to more fanfare and hoopla. We rested, schmoozed, took photos, didn’t sign autographs, and then it was time to move on. We were joined by another friend and fellow quad Bonnie Richardson as we left the park. My cousins Becca and Jason also joined in here. Again, due to Dr. B’s limited counting ability I really couldn’t tell how big our group was now.
Heading out of the park we had our second police escort of the day as we made our way through the not-so-busy streets of Sequim. Matt, who was on a bike now after twelve miles of running was visibly nervous. I explained to Matt that Johnny Law was our friend, and he had nothing to worry about as long as he stayed close to me. His nervous look remained however until the escort was over. Once at Railroad Bridge Park we ate lunch and we were joined by Todd, the quadfather, and his lovely wife Karen. If you recall, they were with us at the very beginning in Coeur D'Alene! My friend Marsha, also in a wheelchair was now with us as well. And my grandpa, Papa, was there too. He was coming along for the ride in a bike/chair combo powered by Nicole Lepping from the Sequim Wheelers. Russ and my mom were now on bikes and rolling along with us. I told my mom I was so glad she got to ride with us. She’s been running around for the last two weeks taking care of me and the crew. Finally she could relax and enjoy the home stretch.
The entourage at Railroad Bridge
Leaving the park we were more of a spectacle than I could have imagined. Luckily I can’t see behind me and Dr. B can’t count, so I didn’t really know what the situation was. I did though have a sense there was still something missing, and a few miles down the road from Railroad Bridge we found the missing piece, Jesse. Jesse is another good quad friend of mine. Jesse’s great attitude and fabulous new hairdo added to the spectacle. We were officially a motley crew. If I am ever to be compared to Forrest Gump, this would be the moment.
The last four miles or so were emotional for all of us. At different points along the route today we all had a moment where we realized we had made it and accomplished something special. Once we made it to my house it was time to celebrate. My friends finished all the beer from my tap, and made a substantial dent in the collection in my fridge. Jimmy had run the entire twenty nine miles, so I was hoping he would stay hydrated. I recommended water, but he needed the food value that beer contains. Our friend, Kristin, had arranged for burritos from Little Devil’s Lunchbox to feed the masses. A local lumber company, Interfor, together with Little Devil’s Lunchbox picked up the tab. Thank you! It’s going to be hard when I stop getting free stuff.
As the night went on, the crowd slowly dispersed, and the team gathered in my house to reminisce. It was great to sit around with the crew and share our feelings about the ride. I’m so thankful for everything this group has done for me. All they want in return is beer. It’s quite the deal. I am incredibly lucky to have such strong family support and have the good friends I do. I always feel supported whether it’s doing something I do everyday or riding across the Cascades in my wheelchair. No one who knows me ever tells me “no, you can’t do that.” There’s a bitchin’ line in one of my favorite Guy Clark songs, The Cape, “He did not know he could not fly, so he did.”