Contributed by Terry Friend, Karen Marshall.
Cycling through a year of pandemic
We’re here. We’ve still got two wheels. We learned how to find joy and freedom on our bikes during a wild ride called 2020. The year brought us together as a planet in ways that we will never forget. For me the metaphor of climbing a gap applies: an uphill battle, a sweet ride down.
I started the year with a plan for a RAID ride: to cycle the spine of the Pyrenees in France from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. 8 rides, 495 miles, 14 cols and a few feet of climbing with a group of close friends. Like all of yours, my plans were dashed, and a new reality set in as Covid took hold of our planet. It unified us in a common experience we could never predict: separation from our families and parents, a virus that took the lives of too many, racial inequity that tore us apart, jobs lost, relationships broken, hunger, loneliness and uncertainty. And a new accessory called masks.
Someplace in that climb called Covid, we found that two pedals were a safe place to be.
In late March of 2020, I converted my dashed RAID dreams to a 3000-mile goal for the season. April gap rides in Vermont are chilly! I relied on my every woman must have Terry winter tights and insulated jerseys. As lockdown set in, my Covid release was 130 miles a week on my bike. With my two closest friends we rode “in our bubble” all summer exploring endless dirt roads we had never travelled before…on gravel bikes. We never left Vermont but experienced a whole new world of beautiful farms and pastures, sunsets and even a portage around a crumbled bridge. We stopped and took pictures…posting and sharing on Strava. It was our way to stay connected with friends in a year of distance and disconnect.
On July 18th I put my Terry Tour de France kit on, today was the day to cross the 3000-mile mark. Fittingly, I achieved it at 37.08 miles into that ride at the top of a Middlebury gap climb. On the sweet ride down through curves and landscape that had inspired Robert Frost to write poems such as “The Road Not Taken,” I moved my goal up to 3500 miles. The next 500 miles included the virtual Kelly Brush Ride, an annual century event raising funds to support people with spinal cord injuries with adaptive equipment to live active lives (www.kellybrushfoundation.org). In a year of reinventing how we did everything, KBF smashed its fundraising goal- a strong testament to cyclists across the country who took part.
I crossed my next milestone on a gnarly 4th class gravel grinder in October. With insulated Terry tights back on, we encountered 50 miles of dirt, mud, water, rocks and navigated our way through forests. With snow and winter setting in, 4000 miles called. I felt a strong drive to beat 2020, to have one defining victory in a year called terrible. I kept riding – often on my own – but stopped to take in the scenes along the way. Christmas Eve was a balmy day in Vermont, my two wheels called, and I crossed the 4000-mile finish line.
The year behind us was an uphill climb in every way we could never imagine. But we had two wheels and cycling was freedom, fresh air, exercise, and solace. We united in our experiences as moms, daughters, grandmothers, partners, and friends to take care of one another.
4000 miles later. We’re here. It’s a new season. Hope and our bikes beckon. Maybe you discovered cycling in the last year, maybe you shared it with kids or grandkids, maybe you cried one day out on the road. Maybe you found hope, health, and happiness on two wheels. Maybe you’ll ride your bike to get vaccinated!
However you do it, ride in Terry. It’s gear made for us. Women who fight the uphill battle and enjoy the sweet ride down.
Karen Marshall – #terryfaerie – is a healthcare management consultant living in Vermont, enjoying road cycling, gravel grinding, skiing, skinning, sailing and her two adult kids.