From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother...
I woke up the morning of the ride about 4.30 am. It's funny to me, not because I woke up at 4.30 am (there is NOTHING funny about that), but because I take such precvautions not to oversleep. I set the alarm on my cell phone for 5.15 and borrowed an alarm clock from my mother-in-law and set that one at 5.20. I do the same routine every year, and have had the same results, my own private hobgoblin of the mind.
I woke up with the worst stiffness in my neck. I could turn my head a total of about 90 degrees. I did a little yoga stretching and that helped a little, but not nearly enough. "This might be a problem later on," I thought. I made myself a big bowl of cereal and scarfed down some turkey breast and an apple, got dressed, and text-messaged my wife and child. Then my phone buzzed. Li'l Fish had texted me back a quick "Luv U" then gone right back to sleep.
I stopped at the local Dunkin' Donut for a bagel and a Cup of Joe, then got back on the road. The traffic was surprisingly and wonderfully light at that time. I honestly expected it to be heavier with all of the people they were expecting, but my guess is that I just barely beat it out. Kurt, who was not far behind me, got caught up in all kinds of shenanigans. He eventually pulled into a parking lot of a local Giant Supermarket and rode the two miles to the departure site...I guess the 100 miles we were slated to do weren't quite enough for him.
I arrived and started putting my bike together and going through the checklist of what I needed and making sure everything was ship-top-shape. Through the magic of technology and cell phones, I managed to hook up with Team Fish: my brother Pat "Patfish Hunter, and my friends Kurt "Fishmagic" Enck and Mark "Kram" Wanco.
Inaugural Team Fish Member Pat "Patfish Hunter" Duffield, ready for his third LiveSTRONG
We went to the 100 mile staging area and hung out, enjoying the loose banter that often precedes epic battles. It's a mix of gallows humor, the joie de vivre of the damned, and the good-natured ribbing enjoyed by men who show affection by making fun of each other and themselves. In truth, there is no one I would want to share the LiveSTRONG foxhole with more than these guys.
Kurt "FishMagic" Enck, getting his game-face on for his second LiveSTRONG
We were all the way in the back, so we missed a lot of the kickoff speech. Lance was not there this year, being in Ireland for the International Cancer Summit. There's a piece of poetry in there somewhere, but I can't find it right now. Someone sang the Star-Spangled Banner (the way I like it: beautifully, and without ridiculous fanfare and flourishes) and then we were given the LiveSTRONG equivalent of "Gentlemen: Start Your Engines."
Mark "Kram" Wanco, in his first LiveSTRONG, and ready for his baptism by fire...and humidity
And then, we were off.