And so the daily grind has resumed. The trip is fading into memory, where I will dig it up when appropriate. I have noticed already that I will add things to everyday conversation like, “it was sort of like that in Montana” or “you think that’s steep, try the riding up the hills in Missouri.”

The tour has far more stories that I could tell at any one time; most of them are, for now, forgotten. It is only after someone casually says, “she was so mad, she nearly shot me” that my memory is jogged, and the story surfaces about how I got three bullet holes in my tent in Lander, Wyoming (and that’s the truth, I couldn’t note it in the journal or my mom would have dragged me home that instant.)

I have taken much with me, however, and the small lessons have been learned: drink plenty of water, be nice to the locals, rest when you need to, take care of your things, if you need help, ask the fire department, spend time with people you love, etc. And everything looks a bit different now. Whenever I see a map of the United States, like on the weather channel or in a book, I trace the route in my mind. Every time I see a huge expanse of land, I say to myself, that would be a two day ride, maybe three.

And I want to ride. Every day. Driving my car is mind-numbing. After the initial shock of traveling faster than fifteen miles per hour, the whole process of getting somewhere by sitting down and steering is dull. Ride a bike, even if it is one day a week. Ride until you are out of breath. Find a good hill–the downhill is always a few feet longer than the uphill–and attack it.

I am already planning a tour next summer. All the crazy TransAmerica folk get it in their system, they can’t stop. Take Steve, he’s done it twice and wonders what Canada would be like coast to coast. And Europe. I’ll let you know when our next trip is, and, of course, you are invited to ride with us.