I MADE IT!!!!!!!
For some unknown reason Norm (I had set my tent up right by his yesterday) got up @ 0530 and started packing up his camp! Breakfast was @ 0700 and we had a group photo @ 0730. I woke up grumpy as hell!!!! I slowly packed up my camp for the last time and as usual was one of the last people to get my gear on the truck. Everyone posed for the group photo and misc other pics and we left the campground @ 0800. @ about mile 20 I had my 4th flat of the trip, it was a slow leak so I replaced the tube, I was almost afraid to pump it back up to it's correct pressure after surveying the tire, it had 3 large cuts in it where you could see the casing thru the rubber, I was unable to find what had caused my leak. Carol and Ellen stopped to give me encouragement during the repair. When we got back on the road we traveled about 5 miles when we found Will patching Katie's tire. What a crappy day for a flat! We, the 5 of us, were the last ones thru the final checkpoint of the ride. After the checkpoint I suddenly realized that we were running late for the lunch that was scheduled for us in D.C., so I got down on my bars and hauled ass! Just outside of D.C. I noticed that my front tire felt soft and pumped it up some more. We entered D.C. on a bike trail and then onto the street that passed right in front of the Watergate Hotel. You could see the Washington Monument @ the end of the street. We rode past the finish line to get to the Old Post Office building where we had lunch. About 1 mile from the restaurant, as I rode down the sidewalk, I looked up and there standing in front of me was Norma, she was walking towards the finish line to meet me there. After a GIANT hug, she then walked along beside me to lunch. Lunch was put on by a Big Rider from 1999, who has a Greek restaurant in the Old Post Office building. Great food, and as much lemonade as I could drink! Norma walked back to the finish line with the Ride staff. Alan (the mechanic) released us 2 @ a time @ 2 min intervals so we wouldn't run over all the tourists on the sidewalk and not overwhelm the finish line! The Big Dogs went 1st, Dave and Moon, then Justin and I. Guess I made it into the "gang", as we were called by the other Riders! The finish line was a mad house of relatives and friends, everybody trying to get pictures, lots of hugs, quite a few tears, and lots of laughter. There was a presentation by Charlie V.(from the ALAW office in Seattle), the staff, and all the past Big Riders that were present. We received certificates and medals, and anyone who wanted to, could speak. After the festivities the Big Riders dissolved into the crowd of families, friends, and tourists. I know that I will never see most of them again and I wish I could have given each one a hug and told them how much I enjoyed spending the Summer of 06 with them! Several of us rode our bikes to Capital Hill Bikes and had them shipped back home. Charlie V. picked us up and then dropped us off @ the State Plaza Hotel, where most of the Riders were staying, Norma had gathered my bags and was waiting patiently for me. We caught a taxi and went to the Harrington Hotel, where we were staying for our visit to D.C., I carried my bags up to the room and then collapsed on the bed, still dressed in my bike kit. Fell asleep for about an hour, showered, and then went downstairs to Harry's Grill. Had a huge hamburger and 3 beers, and then back up to the room. It was hard for me to comprehend that it had been 48 days since Seattle, the mad rush and confusion of the start, and the fact that I was now laying on a bed in D.C. I'm not sure I will ever undertake such a grand adventure such as this again, but it sure has inspires me to dream BIG!!!!!