By this time next week, we'll be in Europe getting ready to start our ride.
I started saying goodbye to people yesterday. I started saying, "See you in August."
A long embrace followed by an "ohmygod" face that actually means, "Holy shit I can't believe this is happening." (For the record: holy shit I can't believe this is happening.)
We've talked (and I have written) ad nauseam about how hard this will be and how great the challenge is. We've given interviews about what it means to us personally, to women and to cyclists in general. There's a chatter and a clatter that's getting louder with each passing day. There's speculation and criticism and skepticism. There's also been a barrage of emails and hand-written notes: words of encouragement, wisdom, honesty, hope, and unconditional support, no matter the outcome.
A few weeks ago Kym Fant and I were exchanging frustrated texts about training hours and training problems and time constraints and stress. And then she sent this and restored perspective to us both: "France will be rad. Ride, eat, sleep and laugh is all I want to do!"
We've set out to do something that will take us to the edge of our physical limits and, probably, to the edge of our sanity. But at the end of the day, we're also just flying to France to pedal for three weeks on some of the most beautiful roads in the world. We're going on 17 really long bike rides and 2 short ones. We are about to embark on a trip that most people will never have the opportunity to even consider. And our gratitude meters are off the charts. Believe that.
Now we are packing bags and stocking up on emergency prescriptions and organizing paperwork and triple checking our hazardous sport trip insurance documentation. We're arranging kits carefully into plastic baggies labeled by day. We're stocking up on sun dresses and rest. We're tapering and hydrating and sleeping well.
We're ready. Or at least we're as ready as we're ever going to be.
We made the choice to do this: to dare and risk. In a blog entry for ESPNw last week, Kathryn Bertine wrote: "I put my heart and soul into trying. I am pretty certain that is what hearts and souls are for. There is no greater regret than looking back on life and wondering, "What if?"
We, the women of the Reve Tour, reject the what if. We reject the wondering. We're going to go across the ocean and find out. We're going to try. And we accept all of the responsibility associated with that choice. We accept all of the possibilities, both negative and positive. We accept the assurance of pain, the potential for failure and the inevitability of conflict.
We also accept the beauty of non-stop croissants, an endless supply of nutella and plates of pasta bigger than we might have ever imagined.