Day 25: Eufaula AL to Cordele GA: 116 miles, 15.4 mph, 3901 feet of climbing, 7301 calories
We crossed into Georgia, welcomed by the east wind and a long climb up to Providence Canyon. Then the terrain flattened out. We passed cotton fields, pecan groves, and peanut farms as we traversed Carter country. We had lunch in Americas, but without sighting Billy. We ended in Cordele, warmly welcomed at dinner. I believe that it was in Cordele, in 1970, when this hippie with a white Afro was refused service when trying to buy gas. At least some divisions have been reconciled.
I rode in different combinations, but consistently with Bob and Gary. They’ve been my best mentors on this trip, supportive and sharing advice. Gary reminded me to keep pedaling when leading on downhills. Part of me reverted to the insecure cyclist I was when the tour began. Then the appreciation kicked in, because I have learned a lot from many good people.
Here is a partial list of those to whom I’m grateful: Don and Tom N for being gentlemen who keep the enthusiasm of 12 year olds; the friendliness of the Ice Cream Gang (Karen’s rich laughter and Ian’s antics that provoke it); Stig and Bill for kindness; Ernie, John M, and Daniel for lessons on retirement; Tom H and Larry for climbing lessons; Paul and Phillip for teaching me about racing; Karl, Ted, and Mose for wisdom for the road; John, Lon, and James for demystifying mechanical issues; Terry, Todd, young Ian, Doug, Patty, and Tom N for lessons on determination; and Bob and Gary for teaching a rookie. I have ridden with most of the cyclists, deliberately, and been consistently rewarded with warmth and wisdom.
I also cast back to childhood hikes with my parents. My father was the model for planning, efficiency, and determination. On days when I have pushed hard, I am channeling him. My mother saw hiking as communion with nature and other hikers. She would approve of my social days. As a child I would oscillate between them, literally running between them as they often would be hiking at different paces. Now I have integrated them in my flexible approach to this adventure. I feel their approval as I pedal.