continues to Close.
When I began all this, actually -in a way- before I began this: was planting the seeds to begin all this, I would check out things on the Internets, in print, catalogs... and a name I continually came across was that of Kent Peterson. Rivendell & Grant Petersen, Bob Brown ... and Kent Peterson [a lot of Peterso[e]ns out there]: three names that would play enormously important in my unfolding of a new life.
I would sit, I would rest, I would lay on the sofa, and I would read [and marvel] about this guy who rode to ride. He rode far away to ride even farther away. He resided [resides] in Washington state, but if he was going to ride some event in Mass. [Boston-Montreal-Boston] or the GDR [Great Divide Race -starts in the tippity topper most of Montana and finishes up at the bottomery most bottom of New Mexico], well... he rode there too. Also, he was Car-Free. Had been for a number of years. He's married, has two kids, and they did/do fine.
This guy, and his life, struck me as something special. Best? ...he wasn't running around beating on his chest like some raving Tarzan screaming 'Look at me!! I'm car-free you buncha SUV-drivin' jerkweeds'. He was pretty much quiet about it. Also, with his riding pursuits he wasn't running around pounding his forearms like some extra in Braveheart shouting "Look at ME! I ride more than any of you, and on your longest rides -you know, the ones you take trains, buses and cars to get to... the ones your wives or hubbys drive you to... I ride to those too!!". No, he was & is quietly Herculean.
A smallish, concrete cast, formed from Kryptonite, Buddha with a bike helmet atop its head.
This guy meant [still means] a lot & much to me. I started writing him, and he responded back. I left out the stuff about my size, the hole I was in, I kept to bike and riding stuff. Life -without the mess- stuff. We became friendly.
When he undertook the GDR, we donated bread. Chloe made artwork for him... he took that artwork along with him [tucked into his water purification tablet container]. He mentioned her [Chloe's first major press outing] in his follow up on that race in Dirt Rag magazine, mentioned her by name. She was thrilled.
I was still in a hole... miserable, but planning.
And he was still quietly living his life out in a semi-little/Salmon-known town in Washington.
At the end of that GDR race, I looked at Amy and said "We gotta do something... I gotta do something. This is like Babe Ruth smacking one out of the park for me. I know Kent's racing for his own reasons, but he's fueling me-giving me hope, inspiring me to try. Amy, I gotta do something here." And Amy said back to me, "Whatever you need to do, we'll do it".
Now I knew Kent loves his wife and she loves him in return... and that's something I knew and understood well in my own life. Very well. I also knew that he had been away from home for a very long time to do this race: riding from Washington to Montana, racing from Montana to the New Mexico/Mexico border... and then, now just finished, riding his bike from the border back up to Washington state. Bingo, there it was... get him back home, back home to his wife/his wife to him, as fast as possible.
So, for this guy I had never met and only knew from the Internet and had corresponded with via email, but had given me so much more than I could have ever possibly given him, we bought him a plane ticket home. Home to his wife. And that was tiny peanuts compared to what he had delivered to me just by being who he is. And I got to talk to him for 5 minutes.
Through his wife, I was given a phone number and an approximate time to call-a time she estimated he would be finishing the race. I called that number, a friend answered [a buddy picking him up at the finish line to drive him back to his house to spend the night before riding back to Washington **I think that buddy was Tarik-who visited Amy, Chloe & me last summer in Minneapolis, and we now count as a buddy too ~that Circle again**], and said "Hold on, Kent's just pulling up... ". Off in the distance, at the New Mexico/Mexico border I could hear 'Hey Kent, phone for you'. I was sitting on the edge of our bed in the NYC area with my knees and back shot from having walked from the kitchen to the phone in the bedroom to place this call. Sweating & panting from that 10 foot stroll. It was surreal.
"Hello, Kent here". He wasn't breathing hard, didn't sound like someone who had just ridden thru hell and back, dodging bear, assaulted by hills, dust, cold & heat: nature at her best & worst... all on a Single-Speed bike. He sounded like someone at peace and in his element.
I introduced myself, he was happy to hear from me after all of our email, I told him my plan: what he needed to do, ID to have at hand, times to be where & there... he thanked me, Amy & Chloe profusely. He started to sound a little tired so I steered the call to an end.
The next day he was home, home with his wife. We bought him that...
he gave gives me hope & inspiration.
I got the better end of the Deal.
Happy 50th Birthday, Kent [450 odd miles in 3 days sounds exactly like your kind of gift to yourself]!
Keep Ridin'... Always