I realized after I posted my summary topics that I would not be able to live up to my promises today. I have been experiencing technical and physical difficulties. For some strange reason, I cannot get my photos into the program I want to use to animate them. So … I picked the topic with the least amount of photos … the nice guy named Matthew.
We first noticed Matthew while we were taking a rest stop (AKA restroom break) at the Cedartown, Welcome Center. Very quaint place, it looks like an old Train Depot. Very, very Pretty. Matthew was asking a man he saw on the street for direction … If I heard right … for directions to a eating establishment. Some of the best in town were closed for Easter–on Saturday–I am not sure if he found what he was looking for. I know we did not. The sandwich shop we were going to have lunch at was one of the many closed establishments.
Matthew was hard to miss in his neon green bike shirt–not that neon bike clothing is so unusual on the trail–BUT very few serious riders are loaded down the way that he was. Matthew had saddle/pannier bags over the rear wheel at the back of his bike that were ENORMOUS along with a sleeping bag/tent gear strapped on top of that directly behind his bike saddle. These were not the only panniers bags he had. He had two more strapped across the front wheel. I am not exactly sure of the name for his bike gear, but saddle bags/panniers are close enough for you to get the idea. He was weighted down–67 pounds to be exact–at least that is what I read on his blog. We did not meet him until later when we headed back towards the state line.
Mike and I took our third meal break by a creek. I snapped a few pictures there that I will share with you in my post about The Ride. We were chatting with another couple during this break who stopped at the same spot for a rest from a LONG walk, just as Matthew rode by. I shouted out to him, “how hard is this to ride with that load?” My first thought was that would be WAY too hard, then I remembered how heavy I used to be and wondered if maybe I already had ridden loaded down with that Kind of weight. (It wasn’t until today that I realized that I rode with almost the same weight before OptiFast! Yeah Me! Thanks OptiFast!) Turns out I had, well, really close.
He slowed and then stopped. Mike and I rose from our bench and moved toward him. He began to tell us about how he was riding from coast to coast, starting in South Carolina. He is from Brooklyn, not South Carolina. The thing I found most interesting is that he wanted to travel through the southern states because he had never been before. I thought to myself and then voiced that it was a good idea that he left when he did because most of the southern states will be heating up pretty quick. He was a very polite and pleasant young man. We chatted with Matthew at this stop for a full thirty minutes, until another gentleman rode up and started to chat with him, and we decided we needed to get a move on down the road.
I thought it was such an interesting thing to do. Most of us think about these kinds of things but rarely do them. My hat is off to him. He makes me think of my High School buddy Chuck. I think Chuck did a long bike tour himself when he was younger. Chuck is one of the big reasons that Mike and I started dabbling with bikes. He is, in my humble opinion, a big time IronMan. Matthew and Chuck have another thing in common–a very quiet and gentle spirit that is most enjoyable to be around. I find Matthew and Chuck inspirational.
We found out how inspirational that Matthew is when we met up with him at the state line. Mike and I were talking about why didn’t we get a picture with him to put on my blog. Matthew had given us his card when he took down our names at the previous stop. We decided that we would wait for Matthew at the state line since we got there well ahead of him, not being laden with such heavy loads.
He arrived quicker than we had expected, and we engaged him in conversation again. This time we offered to take a picture of him for his blog with the Chief Ladiga Sign at the state line. This is when I snapped a pic of him for my blog, and then Mike suggested that I get in one too. So, I did and only thought about my helmet head after Mike snapped the photo. Matthew apologized for being sweaty, as if I wasn’t?!?! He was only slightly wetter than I. hehe!
At this stop Matthew shared the why of how he undertook such a journey. He had thought about doing this I believe, if I remember correctly, for sometime. He found himself with a unique opportunity to undertake this adventure across the United States, and he took it. I like that. I like it when a visionary person decides to act upon their vision. I love to see that spirit of adventure come alive in a person. Every amazing, lively, and interesting older person that I have ever met throughout the years has at some point in their lives lived with a zest for life, and they view life as an adventure that should not be missed out on. Matthew has seized his day. That makes me smile. I won’t be around when Matthew is an old man, but I am sure he will be one of those superb souls that will be dazzling and brilliant. I find the boldness and courage to undertake such a journey being terrifically mixed with the quietness of Matthew’s spirit — an exceptional experience not to be missed. Do check out his blog.
Blessings … S