Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 42: The planets align

Day 42 miles to/from work: 26.8
Total miles for S4S: 1119.6

We are not doers; we are deciders. Once we decide, the doing is easy.
                                                                                                                   -Ralph Blum

This is really hard—the last ride, the last post* of Sweating for Shelter. It's like saying good-bye to an old friend after amazing adventures of inner and outer discovery. The focus and discipline of S4S have been simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting, creating a confluence of regret and relief that this particular chapter is ending. But enough of the maudlin contemplation—you're undoubtedly anxiously awaiting the weather report.

Odd stuff, it was. Silver beauty and I started with sun in the east, threatening darkness in the west, and temperatures in the low 40s. The forecast was for a drop of 5 degrees by the time we got to work but with the compensating promise of cheery sunniness. The forecast, not surprisingly, told a half-truth. The cloud cover soon shut out all signs of the sun as my toes turned to ice. My friend Jan in Rockport, Texas, periodically reminds me, "I don't do cold!!!!!" (Exclamation points hers.) So for Jan and some of you other cold-phobics, it's hard to explain how a ride that's a little chilly and not optimally comfortable can be a thing of beauty and personal enjoyment. Other than my frigid digits, the coolness felt like a sweet breeze passing through me, clearing space for the day. I savored every moment, and with each landmark I passed, thought about the other 41 times it had greeted, taunted, embraced, and cheered my journey.

Along the bike path that is a primary portion of my route are cosmic signs, each with a picture of and information about a planet. I love these for their beauty and quirkiness. They are also symbolic of this project. I had been such a terrible procrastinator about biking to work and practicing my craft of writing. I wanted the motivation to consistently do both (not necessarily together). I wanted to do much more to support animal rescue.

That last weekend in August when Jazz and I were out for a run, the idea for S4S downloaded in an instant. And truly, the planets aligned. Each of you so kindly and enthusiastically embraced the project and me. When I say I couldn't have done it without you, it is no exaggeration. If I had only committed to myself that I would bike and write every day, I'm pretty sure that ultimately I would have been as much of a liar as

To know I have such support—people who believe in me and are willing to put money on my doing what I promised, money that will touch other people and animals in ways none of us will never know—how could I not get up each morning and take Silver Beauty for the next chapter of the adventure? No matter how late the hour, I wasn't going to miss a blog post, with many of you telling me that you actually want to read about how this is going and that you make it a part of that most sacred of rituals—your morning coffee. As inadequate as these words might be, I can only say "Thank you."

The ride home was like a ghost town with hardly any traffic and... oh yeah! It's Halloween! Go figure. It was fun seeing the yards with lights and pumpkins and kids in costume. The air bore the harbinger of winter, but was still pleasantly cool. As I sailed down hills, I felt like I was riding the last big wave of autumn. I counted down the last miles of S4S; and when I finally put Silver Beauty on her rack, it was with the sense that we had done a good thing.

Today I had a lovely email from my sweet sister Jo sending congrats on the finish of S4S. Her last sentence was: "If the animals you save only knew to what extent you love them...." If only they did, Jo, that would make it just about perfect.

*I will do one more post with pledge/donation info and when/where for the S4S celebration.


  1. What a breathtaking, inspiring, and amazing journey! Congratulations, Liz! It seems like it all went by so fast. But then you’ve been doing all the pedaling, while I pretty much have been sitting here balancing a glass of wine and a plate of brownies. I’ve been delighted and enthralled to follow you. I felt both thankful and humbled to learn about the services that DCHS provides and the angels who work there. I also learned about the importance of proper bike gear, which will come in handy should I ever decide to actually get back on a bike. A toast to your dedication and all-around awesomeness!

  2. Dearest Lizzie Girl! You have done such a wonderful thing for the Dane County Humane Society and for many of us as well! The dedication and stamina you have shown throughout this effort of yours is purely remarkable and inspiring! I will miss your daily posts however, but since snow will be flying soon, it is better you are flying to work in your auto rather than on Silver Beauty! Of course, leave it to Mother Nature to give us an absolutely glorious morning today! That may be her gift to you as you end one journey and start another (whatever that may be)!Have a wonderful day and THANK YOU! See you Friday! :)

  3. Congrats girl! Very impressive feat, both (or is that both feet?). ;-)
    Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

  4. Congrats mom! I'm now looking forward to hearing about your adventures with NaNoWriMo this November! :D