Today was the day of setup. The PA chapters and coordinators did an amazing job and the Board pitched in as well. I didn’t do much. I folded some t-shirts and pointed a lot. I also took complaints and helped coordinate a bike pickup for someone with bike issues. I do whatever the important coordinators tell me to do and today they didn’t tell me to do much.
Because I wasn’t needed I was able to meet-and-greet. The day before the Ride-In™ begins is a very busy day of arriving and checking into the hotel and today everyone was pulling in wearing rain gear. It was wet and wild for most but they arrived with smiles of satisfaction that they had finally made it and made it safely to boot. I can’t explain how excited I feel when I see so and so arriving on their special bike or new bike and as our eyes connected through rain splattered face shields I saw the smiles that were already on their lips spread to their eyes.
I don’t remember all of their names but I remember their faces and smiles and laughter and as we hug after they dismount they express to me how happy they are to be right here and they relive their adventures and travels and they tell me all about their new or old bikes and gear that worked or didn’t and troubles that arose and they conquered. We share things that I can’t share with even my very best friends because they don’t ride and don’t understand. We talk about routes and mileage and compare notes and maybe I will do that road next time and maybe we won’t go home on that one and about dropping their bike or breaking their bike or this new gadget that they can’t live without.
After this very long day the most satisfying thing that I do before heading to my room is do the bike walk. I head outside and yes, it is still raining, but I walk the parking lot looking at those bikes that are not covered and I try to recognize the rider just by the bike and I smile and am happy and am thankful that all these women arrived well and arrived safely and that they too are as excited as I about the start of the Ride-In™ tomorrow.