It was never the miles that made me nervous about commuting into Mars but the elements. How to be prepared and how to be safe - and strangely enough as I sit and wrote that it dawned on me that those are probably strikingly similar questions to what those seeking out clean water might have.
Yet again, I am in the privileged position of choosing to do this because I can, not because I have to and that difference is extremely important.
As far as the ride goes.
It was good, as far as the ride into Grandville went, I encountered from the get go a head wind which lowered my speed quite dramatically. The temperatures on departure were slightly above freezing but I knew as I moved further east the temperatures were going to drop and the chances of some form of precipitation increased.
The ride along the highway took me quickly back to this summer and riding on roads with traffic going 55 mph+ which quickly brought a smile to my face. Although there were narrow parts along the highway shoulder for the most part I was able to stay a safe distance from the road itself.
Then I hit Hudsonville - a little over halfway and a rain/snow mix hit and began to collect on my arms and face. At this point it felt much like riding in the rain during the summer, outside of the temperature, the rain/snow didn't hurt when it hit. That was until I made it outside of Jenison when the snow faded, the rain turned more to a hard sleet. This was not fun, it hurt when it hit my cheeks but especially when it would hit my lips or the part of my ear that wasn't covered.
Fortunately, this was the final leg of the commute in with the most traffic and I was able to push through and arrive at Mars - taking around 1 hour and 45 minutes, if that gives you any idea of the head wind speed.
During my ride in, I received a tremendous amount of support and 'likes' from friends and individuals who were tracking my progress - many of whom also are involved at Anthem. Many voiced concerns about the ride back to Holland, being that it was going to be at night (leaving around 10:15p) and the uncertainty of the road condition due to the weather in the 8 hours between arriving and leaving.
I wasn't too concerned. I did fear ice, not snow but I knew that it was going to be warmer as I made it towards Holland so the question was how bad was it going to be in Grandville and for how long?
The roads proved to be in great shape. During the ride they were simply wet but had not iced over.
There was very little traffic on the roads and highway which allowed for me to experience a very still and beautiful ride home. In many ways it allowed me to remember and rest in why I was doing but provided a time of reflection and prayer that I had not had in some time.
I did have one interesting encounter some where between Hudsonville and Zeeland. From the picture above you can get a glimpse of how far down the road I could see.
As I was riding, enjoying the slightly erie calm of the night, I saw some thing randomly weaving back and forth across all the lanes of traffic. And by saw, it might be better said I glimpsed movement. It was just out of the range of the lights to give a clear idea of what this was.
Could it be an animal of some sort?
Could my eyes be playing a trick on me?
I grabbed one of my lights, lifting the beam slightly higher to then reveal a reflector on the back wheel of the bike this person was riding down the middle of the highway on.
Yes, I jumped (or at least my heart did). This could be from recently watching a few episodes of the Walking Dead or the fact that I'm also reading World War Z - but my mind immediately went to thinking, 'this is how the zombie apocalypse begins'. Needless to say, a quick shift of gears and wave to the mysterious rider and I was off and past them in no time.
A mile down the road, I sat back and laughed at what I had just experienced and then said to myself 'I will call you Walker'.
In the end, I made it back safe to Holland in slightly over an hour. A great commute.
A huge thanks goes out to NDJR contributors Tom - for supplying me with an additional light - and Geoff who made some great suggestions on how to keep my feet and hands dry (I'll post on that later), along with all of you who gave me encouragement during the day.
Remember, you can still donate to my campaign until I reach my 140 mile mark (tentatively reaching that late next week).
Totals to date:
Overall miles: 98.6 miles
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