Pariah

Tonight (Friday) is awards night at Cycle America. Each week we have the opportunity to present an award to a fellow rider. I wrote the “script” and today I found and made the physical award. But the ceremony will go on without me. The meeting about tomorrow’s ride will go on without me. I am eating dinner sitting on the ground outside my tent. Amendment: they moved the meeting outside (for me? to mitigate COVID risk in general?) Tomorrow would be century #4 for the week. My bike will ride on the roof of a van and I will ride, masked, with the Trail Boss in that van. I was able to present The Dread Pirate Roberts award to a rider whose strengths, like those of The Dread Pirate Roberts, are myriad. While he may seem intimidating, he is a hero. He stopped by my tent and offered to pace me all day. I’m not young and stupid enough to accept, risking the rest of my summer for one day.

I know I have a friend here…the one who brought me dinner. I know she’s not the only one. I am writing through tears. The tears and accompanying snot are contaminated. Tomorrow we ride to Missoula, MT for a rest day. It is a hard 100 miles. I will be riding it in a van. I won’t be staying in the dorm with the other riders unless Greg finds a spare room for me to occupy alone. I will probably spend the rest day in a hotel, ordering room service or takeout. Can I do laundry? Addendum: turns out I can stay in the dorm and share a room with another COVID + rider.

I rode EFI (every fucking inch) in 2018. There is nothing to prove. I can take some solace in the fact that I climbed a mountain pass with COVID-19 and that I kept up with a 24 mph paceline. I have the sense to realize that riding tomorrow would risk the rest of the trip. If I take two days off, I may be able to get back on the bike next week, depending on how much this knocks the stuffing out of me.

Greg offered the option of flying home – ending my trip, or flying home and coming back later, or spending a week in a Missoula motel and catching up with them. Or I can take two days off and see how I feel. I’ll take door #4.

I knew this was a risk. I haven’t been maskless indoors with anyone other than my immediately family since February, 2020. I got through multiple tours of duty on the COVID units of the hospital – but I was always protected. I have a large supply of N-95 masks with me. The supply looks smaller now that I have COVID. Early in the pandemic I wore masks for weeks after airing them out overnight. I’m not sure I want to do that with masks contaminated on the inside.

Yeah, I feel sorry for myself. Yeah, I’ll survive this…at least I plan to.

(Saturday) I’m waiting for dinner to be delivered and will go to bed soon after, as I never got a nap today. The restaurant delivers beer so I will drink a toast to the MGHS class of 1971, celebrating a COVID-delayed 50th reunion. I hope they don’t spread COVID among them. It’s not fun. It takes (and took) only one selfish and inconsiderate person to create a superspreader event. I verified with that person that they are the source. They didn’t say so in so many words, but made it crystal clear. They didn’t seem concerned, but are going home today. I am expecting a rolling infection through our ranks. People are taking more precautions now, but it may be too late.

After a frustratingly long day dealing with the healthcare system, I received my antiviral medication at a local drugstore 10 minutes before closing time. I just took the first dose. The nurse I spoke with also recommended multiple supplements. The anti-viral drug was free. The supplements cost $65. It took a half hour to walk there and an hour to walk back.

I saw the innards of Cycle America as I rode in the COVID van with the Trail Boss. We were the last to leave our overnight stop and we picked up the first water stop after verifying that everyone had passed through. The person riding shotgun checked off each rider as we passed them – we also check in at lunchtime and the end of the day. Watching scenery was, in some ways, easier, as we didn’t have to keep our eyes on the road. The river was running high and fast.

Tomorrow (Sunday) I rest. See you down the road.

I am in a dorm on a university campus. Ironically, this is the worst internet and cell service yet. The post failed to upload overnight. Maybe it will at some random time today.