“Friendship is like peeing on yourself. Everyone can see it, but only you get the warm feeling that it brings.”
With the ride finished, there’s only one thing left to do. Well, two things if you count a trip to Texas Roadhouse, which I do. The second thing is to thank all the humans that helped me along the way and they do come in all sorts of packages.
This ride was completed to support autism awareness and research in association with the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation and as I pulled in to my parent’s driveway at 10:41pm EST on Saturday, the 22nd of July, my dad triumphantly shouted out the window, “$1,020!” The final few donations came in a flurry just as I was finishing, pushing us past our donation goal of $1,000. That’s an incredible amount of money to raise in just a few short days and even though the ride is over, people can still donate if they wish. But, to those who have already done so, thank you so much.
- Justin Lynch
- Ma and Pa
- The D
- Allison Mauch
- The Doodle Hanson
- Chris Hanson
- Uncle Jim
- Jenna “The Warden” (of the) Wall
- Julie Morgan
- Leslie Fickling
- Maeson Laeson
- Melissa Jacob
- Nathan Kidwell
- Tim Fullam
- The Shelters
Special shout out to Allison Mauch and the Hansons who came through in my final 4 miles to get us over that $1,000 goal. Super awesome and so fourth [sic].
Over the course of the trip, I stayed at three separate AirBnB’s. Each one was extremely accommodating to my odd requests of weird check-in and check-out times and laundry access. I had brief but illuminating and fun chats with all three hosts, including one at 3am as I packed up to make my way out. If I ever do some iteration of this trip again, I will certainly be looking them up again, so thanks to Gail, Sharon, and Lee + Co.
In addition to my foray into AirBnBs, I also got to stay with The Warden and The Duke near Cleveland. The Warden may very well be my favorite person I graduated with who lives near Cleveland. And then there’s The Duke, The Warden’s amazing fiancee, with her amazing chicken and potatoes meal that was ready for me when I arrived, was more than just an added bonus.
The Warden was ready and waiting when I woke up late and made me an amazingly large and delicious bowl of oatmeal that I came nowhere close to finishing. Additionally, when I ran out of medical tape for my makeshift chafing remedy of a maxi pad and gauze, The Warden lent me a boxing glove wrap to firmly attach my gauze and pad to my inner thigh. Lucky for her, my mom accidentally washed it so I can’t return it to her with my signature musk.
The Warden and my torrid past is an interesting one in that it tells the awkward story of how two introverts take years and years to become friends when it actually would only take normal people one meeting to forge. Once forged, however, we have become steadfast in our friendship, often relying on one another for advice for our particular situations. I will continue to harass her that she only sat next to me by accident at an obligatory social event and she will continue to insist that our friendship is indeed legit, perhaps most notably because of my place in her upcoming wedding party. Thanks to Warden and Duke for being the whizz.
Not only was The Warden a gracious hostess, but she was constantly popping up on my phone, providing encouragement and exclaiming how pumped she was.
The Warden wasn’t the only one sending encouraging messages or asking for updates, though. Thanks also to my old lab mates MaeLae and Jords for their constant encouragement, or in the case of Jords, constant badgering. Thanks to my new lab mates Marie “The Italian Stallion” Gaine and Sarah “Goose” Ferri who both provided not only encouragement but also a highly entertaining string of text messages about whether or not I would be able to find living quarters in Ohio (#insidejoke).
Additional thanks to others like Kate, Doodle, Ghostbeard, The G, my sis, The Reverend, and Brita. I received a lot of great messages from my Aunt Susan as well, whose husband’s bike made the trip with me. And of course a bit shout out to my parents, who texted me very little but were on the phone with my wife more than ever asking for updates, whether they should ask the police and fire trucks to escort me into town, and what color Gatorade Pop should meet me with.
Those who texted me the most included my wife, who was always there with updates about the donors while also setting up interviews and a ton of other stuff in addition to her encouragements and health treatment suggestions. And then there was D, who provided additional treatment options and feedback about tactics for the ride. Constant reminders that I only had a Fredonia ride left this day or that I could always take it slow at a RTYD I pace.
I have never been an overly big fan of positive reinforcement due to my inherently realist nature. The cliche “you’ll do great” words of encouragement, to me, always seem to stem more from a strong desire to maintain one’s self esteem rather than to provide actual information. However, in this context, I found that words like these actually did help to remind me from time to time that I had prepared for this and that I knew what I was doing and how to survive when things weren’t going well. Beyond that, the heartfelt messages from people like my aunt reminded me of why I was doing this nonsense in the first place and that helped as well. So, thanks to all those humans.
The Support Team
Having my father arrive in Girard on Day 5 was simultaneously surprising and predictable. I have been quite fortunate in my life to have a constant support team in my family. My cheering squad has always been remarkable. We’ve been one short since last year with the loss of Roger, my foster brother who passed away from complications related to Down Syndrome, who would have been on the side of the road shouting my name as I rode past each and every time. But the addition of my nephew, Nico “X-man” Lynch, has helped keep the squad intact.
My father, a man who drove 18 hours in one day to bring me home to drive four more hours after four hours of sleep to drive three more hours to drive 15 more hours all for an interview for a doctorate program, isn’t one to shy away from 8+ hours of riding in a car at 14 mph. His genuine excitement and pride shines through when he greets me at the gas station and immediately launches into a description of the provisions he’s got, wanting to know the game plan moving forward. He pulls out his phone to show me a picture of the shirts they made and then immediately starts taking pictures, something he wouldn’t stop doing for the rest of the day. His words of encouragement can be found in the pre-ride guest post and those words kept coming via text as I plodded along with him asking how I was and how I was feeling. As my wife likes to say, Pops had liquid pride in his veins that day.
The full entourage came to meet me at North East, providing a cheering section for me every few miles, each adorned in their newly minted shirts. I would hear them honk and cheer as they drove past, making their way to a new stopping point to repeat the process. Grandma with camera in hand, taking pictures as they went.
My sister, stuck at work, raced home and pulled in just a few seconds after me, disappointed that she missed the finish. She would call nearly every day to see how I was doing.
My family makes every effort to be there physically instead of just emotionally for every major milestone of my life from 5th grade graduation to my dissertation defense, and now this ride. The only surprising thing about the support team–the same people who seriously considered calling the police and fire station to have them escort me the last few miles home–was that they didn’t have the house re-wallpapered with copies of the Jamestown Post-Journal article highlighting the ride when I got home.
My Support Team also includes my wife. I found myself writing a lot about her during each day’s post because I spent a lot of time thinking about her during the rides. I pitched this nonsense idea to her at the end of January and unlike some, she didn’t scoff at the idea of it, and instead began providing ideas on how to establish a track record of my seriousness to complete this so that a charity would take us seriously when the time came to actually do the ride. From that day forward, she has designed, edited, and posted every article. She has contacted all the charities and news outlets, and has kept everyone up to date managing my social media accounts. She’s a one-woman wrecking crew. She was extremely bummed (understatement of the millennia) that she couldn’t be there physically when I reached the finish but with the amount of support she has already provided, no more was necessary.
The Ride Home
This part hasn’t quite happened yet, but it will and it’ll be sweet town. Thanks in advance to the D for driving me 13 hours back to Iowa City. Someone should probably record the conversations that will take place over those hours because they are sure to be more than a little entertaining.
Finally, thanks also to the numerous clerks at the checkout counter who asked me how far I was going, where I was coming from, and wished me luck as I departed. The conversations usually ended with an exclamation about how they probably couldn’t even bike to the end of the road without dying.