June 17th, Day 2 -- from the Pacific to Skykomish, WA: The first day of riding is manageable, but all is new. We gear up and get out on the road in fits and spurts. From age 17 to 75, hailing from Australia, the UK, Quebec, the Netherlands, and across 4 corners of the US, we begin together, though the group quickly spreads out according to cadence. By the end of the day, many know who the "riders" are, those who power up hills, those who manage their bike with grace, those who can fix a flat and, well, those who cannot. I ride somewhere in the middle, unaware of how ill-prepared I am for the coming days.
We arrive in Skykomish, with a total population of 198 -- just under the student population of the school where I teach. On Day 2, we sleep in the local school and from what I can glean from the framed photographs on the wall, I deduce that one teacher teaches across 5 grade levels and each graduating class is 12.
We dine cafeteria-style at the end of the ride. No one knows each other yet -- but we will in the coming days. I excuse myself to the restroom and realize that the facilities are scaled to boys not men. I remember the porcelain of lower school restrooms and how small I once must have been.
I return for dinner, tray in hand, looking for an open seat amid a table of strangers.