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bicycling

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The last dispatch: Isaiah Maynard pedals home and looks back.

After he returned from riding his bike across the country, Isaiah Maynard (right) had a couple days to catch up with his friend Ben Lukowitz, who leaves for college soon. Isaiah says their beach landing, by the way, wasn't as hard as it could have been. — Courtesy Isaiah Maynard
Finally sitting still on the Vineyard.
Finally sitting still on the Vineyard.

Okay, here I go:

Total Miles: 3,661

Total Days Biking: 41

Total Trip Days: 48

Average Miles Biked Each Day (not including rest days): 89.29

Top Speed Reached: 43.6 MPH

Waiting for the bicycles on top of mine to be recovered by their owners was very stressful. I was on the boat, just a few hundred feet from friends and family, and yet here I was — trapped. For the first time, something was limiting the speed at which I could move forward with my journey. Reminded by the sticker on my top tube, “Patience,” I sat down, and took in the reality of my situation.

The bicyclists were finally able to head off the boat, but we couldn’t ride our bikes. This was unnatural for me, and it produced quite a serious grin across my sun–burnt face. I strolled along, next to my trusty steed, Nazdak, and as soon as the sun cruised into the boat, I saw a blob of blue — my Follow Me Across America T-Shirts — worn by the most amazing support group around. My friends and family awaited, blasting kazoos, screaming and cheering. I hopped on my bike, just to throw it down to hug my sister. At this moment, I began to cry. I had made it back to all the familiar faces that had cared so much about me, and had read all of my writing and cheered me on. After a round of “Congratulations” and hugs, I dashed over to the shore by the VTA terminal. It was time to dip my tire in the Atlantic Ocean, and truly finish my ride. (Although, I did have to ride my bike home after that).

Now that I am back, I am spending as much time surrounded by people who matter to me — before they all disappear to college — and before I vanish on to my next adventure. I am soaking in the sun, in a new light — where getting hot is comforting! I am able to finally sleep in, although I wake up at six automatically. However, I just tell myself, “Isaiah, you don’t have to bike all day today. You did it. Go back to sleep, you deserve it.”

It feels really strange to wake up and not get on my bicycle. In fact, it feels so weird and unnatural that I have taken my bike out for a spin every day since I’ve been back! I took all my panniers off, and racks, so it is like a feather. I probably will take a break from bicycling, once the weather changes.

Every day there was some moment — some view — where I was just simply in awe. I would feel exhilarated on a day-to-day basis. I cannot truly describe it. Something about letting go of my handlebars, and just throwing my arms up in the air was so wonderful. I truly felt in control of my life. I’ll never forget it.

Over the whole course of the trip I never met someone who wasn’t exceptionally wonderful. The United States is, contrary to the news and general public outlook, full of amazing people. I was greeted by strangers every single day who were just flat-out curious — they were interested, and always helpful beyond belief. No one heckled me, no one bothered my things, and I felt safe the entire time. Strangers opened their homes, and fed me an overwhelming amount of great food. Don’t forget that when we met I was always smelly, sweaty, and just off the bike — usually exhausted. Yet no one had a problem letting me use a shower, a bed, or just allowing me to simply relax on their sofa!

This whole trip has taught me so much. However, the biggest lesson is the virtue of perseverance. Life is going to put you in places you don’t want to be — but believe me, you’re going to get out, and if you look hard enough, there is a serious lesson to be learned.

If I become a father some day in the future, I am going to make sure I do as good of a job as my parents did instilling in me the belief that I am capable of whatever I put my mind to. I’ll make sure that my kids have an attitude that allows them to see past the people who will always try and bog them down. Like my dad said, “You just repeat, repeat, repeat, never expecting anything in return. Then you let them go, and hope they learned the lesson. When they do, it’s the most rewarding thing ever.”

This experience has definitely got me thinking of some other ones in my future. I’d love to walk El Camino De Santiago, in Spain. I want to bike around Iceland. I want to go backpacking through Scotland and Ireland.

If I could relive one day on my trip, I would have to find myself at the top of Washington Pass. Something about conquering the Earth, and summiting a long climb that takes multiple hours is so gratifying. Especially during this day. As soon as I got to the top, I was at a scenic overlook. I was taking in the accomplishment of getting to the top — with my own legs and a bicycle — when all of the sudden an RV comes screeching into the lot. The family rushed out, and funnelled into the overlook gate. They snapped a photo or two, and as soon as they had arrived, they were gone. That was their way of experiencing the natural beauty — and it just really made me appreciate the time I had, the ability I had, and the experience I had to be able to enjoy that moment the way I did.  From then on out, I really took in the day–to–day experience, and was truly thankful for being able to be as young as I am — out there alone, on a bicycle. Seeing the whole United States.

Isaiah intends to meet his fundraising goal of $10,000 (out of which he’s raised $3,000) for the True Health Foundation before heading out to Salt Lake City to receive an award from the organization’s president. A fundraiser will be held at the YMCA’s BASE, at 7 pm on Tuesday, August 19. Isaiah will start a presentation about his ride at 7:30, followed by a Q and A.  Donations will be being accepted all night.

The 25th annual event offers rides of 15, 30 and 60 miles.

Ride the Vineyard is an excellent way to see the Island. — Susan Safford

Last May 624 bicycle riders raised $416,000 riding their bicycles around the Vineyard to help fund research into a cure for multiple sclerosis (MS), and to care for people affected by the crippling disease. This year’s ride, the 25th annual Bike MS: Ride the Vineyard, is on Saturday May 3. It begins and ends at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.

The ride is sponsored by the New England chapter of the National MS Society and is a rite of spring for many riders, most of whom come from off-Island for the one day ride. Riders came from 16 states last year.

Participants are encouraged to raise a minimum of $250 — $150 for youth cyclists, minimum age 14 years old — in addition to the $35 registration fee. Many riders join teams that allow riders to work together to raise the minimums.

MS Bike Ride.
MS Bike Ride.

Ride the Vineyard is split into three separate sections, allowing riders of all levels to take part. There is a 15-mile bike path route that takes the bike path south on Barnes Road, to Edgartown on the West Tisbury Road, around Katama and back to the high school on the Vineyard Haven Road. The 30-mile countryside and ocean view route adds a tour around Oak Bluffs to the 15-mile route, and a 60-mile countryside and ocean view challenge which goes to Aquinnah, then to Katama through Edgartown, and around Oak Bluffs.

It is not a race but a pleasant way to see the Island and meet other riders, according to the event manager Liz Strawn. “We are aiming for $450,000 this year with closer to 700 riders,” she said. “We are partnering again with the Boys and Girls Club of Martha’s Vineyard to support them.”

For more information, contact The Greater New England Chapter National MS Society 800-344-4867, BikeMSGNE@nmss.org, or go to their website atwww.bikemscne.org.