I was packing, and I was on the phone with my sister. I was putting things in my bag that I never thought I’d own, never mind worry about leaving behind. Things like chamois cream, or energy gel, or tire levers. The whole time I looked for my black and white cycle shorts (because they are my lucky ones – I’ve never fallen down wearing them) and my anxiety was coming to a terrible head. I’ve been frightened this whole time, but I’ve managed to hold it together. I’ve had little mantras that I tell myself, to keep going. I tell myself things like that I don’t have to do this well. I just have to do it. That you guys donated a ton of money, and that this is the exchange. You do your best, and I do mine. I have to be honest. Almost none of it makes me feel better. Erin tells me it’s going to be fine. I know I should believe her, because she’s done this before, but I sort of don’t. I busy myself with organizing my stuff and try agreeing with her, but I’m trying not to cry.
After the flurry of phone calls and I’ve filled a big hockey bag with stuff to take to the trucks, I go to bed early, but I can’t sleep. I’m on the edge of sleep when part of packing day dawns on me. In the morning we’ll put all of our stuff on a truck, and then you go home and sleep. The next morning we all meet downtown at Queen’s Park, group up as riders, and leave – all 300 of us. The trucks with all our stuff leave after that, and drive ahead to our first stop in Port Hope – this is our route, if anyone is wondering…and that’s when we’ll see our stuff again. That means that I suddenly realize that I have to put my purse and shoes and stuff on the trucks in the morning, and won’t see them again. I have to get up to put my shoes in, and twenty minutes later I was up again to find other shoes to wear while I pack my shoes. I almost fell asleep, and then got back up when I remembered that I shouldn’t pack all my bike shorts, because I’ll have to wear some until I get to the trucks. The whole night went like that. I don’t know if I’ve told you, but part of the crazy on this whole bike trip, is that all 300 riders camp each evening. *You ride, unpack, set up camp, sleep, clear camp and repeat from * for six days. It’s nuts.
This morning I woke up (or is it really waking up if you’ve been awake for hours?) and did the last few crazy things. I packed my camping stuff, and Sam’s camping stuff and there was another flurry of texts and calls as we made sure everyone had everything… and then we headed down to "Packing Day."
At packing day, you make your way through "financial" (where they make sure you’ve raised your minimum – we breezed through that. (Thank you knitters!) and then through "forms" where they make sure that you’ve filled in all your health forms. (This is Canada, so all we have to do is make sure the rally all has our provincial health numbers.) Then we got our jerseys (everyone wears matching jerseys the first, second and last days) and then they assign you a truck, give you two bins, and you put all your camping stuff in one, all your yarn worldly goods in another, and the "Rubbermaid Wranglers" load it all in, and that’s it. You’re done. You’re officially ready for the rally – or as ready as you’re going to get.
We all stood there, took a deep breath, reflected on the realness of the whole thing, and then somehow weren’t ready to let go of each other.
We did the only reasonable thing and went to brunch. (We’re Torontonians. Brunch is huge here.)
We talked and laughed, old hands and new riders, and said encouraging things to each other. Everyone eventually let go- we did a few last organizing things, helped each other with a few bike dilemmas (Ken managed to get my pump on my bike, which was great, because it kept me awake the night before.) Now we’re all alone, each in our own houses, and I don’t know about them, but I’m afraid.
I made myself feel better by refining my sock-in-progress bike system…
and went around the block to make sure it worked. (It does – and it also holds my iphone, which I’ve figured out how to blog from, so if fair winds are with me, I should be able to update from the road. If not, watch my twitter feed, on twitter if you’re on it, or on the right in the sidebar if you’re not.)
Now I’m here, and I’m supposed to have a dinner that’s "carb loading" but I’m not sure what that means, and I’m as ready as I’m ever going to be, and today about a hundred people told me I was ready… and I’m still scared. I feel like if anyone thinks I can do this, they’ve just fallen for some crazy glamour that I’ve wrought, and really, I am as bad as I think and….and that tomorrow morning I’ll find out what I’m made of, and I hope it’s half as good as everyone thinks. It helps that I have two daughters and a sister with me, because surely we’re made of the same stuff… but tomorrow morning at 9am, 300 people trying to change the world a tiny little bit will ride out of Toronto, and we’ll just see what happens after that.
Thank you for all your crazy donations. It really made it worth it. Even if I suck, you guys have made this whole thing a success.
(PS. I’m going to try not to suck.)