It's been more than a week now since we pedaled into Paris. I remember shoving off from Rambouillet that morning with a feeling of caution. Everything can still happen. Be vigilant. Be careful. Be safe. Just a few more kilometers to ride - don't screw it up now. Into Paris we dodged road furniture, aggressive drivers, buses, confusing intersection. At a stoplight I pulled a sample size of Maison Martin Margiela "Untitled" perfume out of my right jersey pocket and sprayed it on. Paris, I'm ready for you.
A wedding party passed us one car at a time: flowers and ribbons flying out the window, strips of crepe paper waving at us from the bumper. A wall of horns. A caravan of cars full of dark-haired women in sorbet colored summer formalwear. They leaned out the window and took pictures of us - one spectacle to another. They were driving to a celebration of love, we were riding to a celebration of pain. Such are the ways we mark the progression of life, one little monument at a time.
Riding up the Champs D'Elysees exceeded every expectation. I posted a photo as we were riding into town: Kym Fant's hair with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Later Sal told me, "That's how I knew you were close. I told everyone, 'Get ready!'"
They were ready.
Standing there on a median in the middle of the street, making phone videos and waving. My family, Jennifer Cree's husband, Kate's parents, Kym's parents, my publisher, our sponsors from Cannondale, Maria's army of 12 supporters, including her three sons.
We rode 6 abreast with an official Flechage van behind us, honking. In front, Michael Robertson took photos out of the back of the photo car while Dave Christenson shot video. People on all sides stopped to watch and cheer.
Russell played frogger with the traffic in the circle around the Arc in order to get to the spot where we pulled over so he could see Jennifer. Kym Fant's mom put a hot pink crystal champagne glass in my hand. We took a team photo. Mandy and Lyriel from Cannondale put bouquets in our arms and someone popped a bottle of Champagne. Kate's husband flew in as a surprise and I watched as she jumped off her bike to tackle him in a hug.
If we had ever been tired, we couldn't remember. If we had ever been frustrated, it was all momentarily gone. If we had ever doubted this possibility, that sensation evaporated.
I tried to write the night after we rolled into Paris and realized that I was completely overwhelmed by the fact that it was over. I thought I'd know immediately what it meant and what it would mean later, but all I could think about was sleeping in and eating a really nice dinner.
I have been holding this thing, this impossibility-made-possible, in my hands for the past week now – remembering, considering, dissecting, cherishing, deconstructing, analyzing. It's amazing and incredible: simultaneously fragile and indestructible. It exists forever - it cannot be undone.
But in the past week, I've come to realize that it's not an answer. It was never a treasure chest of meaning waiting to be discovered and opened. It's an invitation. To try more. Go bigger. Dream harder.
Bike riding is important, but it isn't life. What Reve Tour means to us and you and everyone who cared about it is just starting to reveal itself. It was a reminder to believe in things we love even when believing doesn't necessarily make the most sense. What we do with this new faith is the most important thing.
Will we make it count?