Blog post by trip originator, Jon Brockopp.
Well, I’m sitting once again in the warm, comfy living room in the home of Micah and Bethany Spicher Schonberg, the owners of Plowshare Produce. We completed our first 22-mile leg without incident. All cyclists are fed and happy, and many of them are joining Micah and his two older boys for a bonfire. I am relieved and a little bit wiped out.
I awoke at 4 a.m. this morning with so much on my mind I just decided to get up. Bread to bake, clothes to wash, last minute adjustments to our schedule. At times like these, I just prefer to get up and take my time – prepare in peace. It worked, sort of. At the very last minute, with my bike packed and ready to go, I couldn’t find my glasses!
But it was fine. I arrived at the Unitarian Fellowship to find Cricket and a few of the cyclists already there, along with the trombone choir (featuring Cricket and Dave’s daughter, Betsy!). Slowly, the rest of our crew showed up, along with many friends and well-wishers. Rev. Cissel gave us a beautiful blessing, the trombone choir serenaded us, and then we were off: 13 long-haul cyclists and two friends heading south.
The weather was perfect – overcast, but no wind and about 65 degrees. The State College police escorted us along a tricky portion of Hwy 322 (Thanks, Officer Wolff!), and we headed into beautiful Rothrock State forest. I just love the fact that we live a few miles from this gorgeous place. This part of the trip somehow seemed easier to me this year – probably because I was chatting away with my good friend, Ed Prince, who is on his third ride.
The forest road has one significant climb, and Mackenzie de Carle walked back to cheer his mother and dad up the last rise. After a few minutes’ rest, we started the long downhill. The first part on the steep gravel is not for the faint-hearted; some like to go fast, but I take it slow. Eventually, the path evens out and becomes paved once again. It’s a stunning final five miles along the Standing Stone Creek.
Waiting for us at Bethany and Micah’s farm was a huge smorgasbord of Cuban pork, and mac & cheese, and kale salad, and sourdough bread, and enchiladas, and spicy lentils, and, and, and. A terrific homecoming for tired and hungry cyclists. Bethany led us in a blessing and we happily dug in. Conversations were wide-ranging and free-wheeling. Much laughter was heard.
The miracle of this bike trip is a simple one – perfect strangers feed one another, bless one another, and help each other along the way. After only a few hours together, we find that we are not strangers at all, but family.
We are blessed, and so very grateful for your prayers and support. Tomorrow we have a full day ahead of us – maybe also some rain. But for tonight it’s a full belly and a comfy sleeping bag – hope you’re as content as we are! —Jon (and the other cyclists)
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