Sunday, June 15, 2008

Nashville Cheerleading Crew Returns!

Stephanie C, Karla M, Pat Clements, Mike and Patty W, and Jeff S just returned from Indiana where we got to see the riders and crew in action. What a spectacular experience! We caught up to Kevin in Bloomington, IN on Dunn Street approaching the time station in Bloomington, IN. I'm not sure Kevin thought we were drunk college students or what, but I think he finally realized what was going on and we got a little bit of a smile.

We caught the off-shift RAAMinator at the timestation and got to see Kevin come by again. Jeff was there and seemed in good spirits. He says he's getting about 90 minutes of sleep per off-shift. His Mom had just been up and brought cookies, so he made sure we ate what was left. I guess cookies and protein energy drink don't mix!

None of us have ever met Kevin, and still haven't but after leapfrogging him and cheering him on multiple times, I think we're all great buddies. At least we think so - he also might want to kill us! We finally left him on IN Hwy 46 past the top of the hill at Brown County State Park. Shortly afterwards, we sat in traffic as the Oakridge Boys concert left out of the Little Nashville Opry in Nashville, IN!

We stopped in the beautiful town of Columbus, IN for some dinner and libations and missed a fantastic photo opportunity of Kevin crossing a beautiful bridge over some river! But, downtown really was beautiful and the food and wine were great.

After dinner, we began cruising through the middle of nowhere. We were a little intimidated driving through the dark on rural roads - no lights, no gas stations, nothing. We all agreed that the boys and their crew are quite fearless braving this night after night. We finally caught Jeff somewhere between Columbus and I74 in the middle of BFE and began leapfrogging Jeff. Of course he rode no hands and gave two peace signs and a huge ear to ear grin!

Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, we stopped by a trailer park for another photo opportunity and cheering session. We noticed a bunch of folks partying on their back porch, and invited them to cheer with us, which they did with great enthusiasm! They had enough tattoos and dreadlocks to hold a mini Indiana Bonnaroo!

Some time around 1AM, we followed Jeff for a while hoping to stop somewhere and moon him, but the officials showed up and we figured we'd better not. We talked to Robert and he was worried about a time penalty for "caravan'ing" so we cheered one more time and headed out for a two hour drive to find a hotel.

In summary, it's truly amazing what those two guys are doing. And I know they're so grateful for their crew, who are having an endurance event of their own. Paraphrasing Jeff at the timestation when we talked, he said with some rare emotion that riding across the United States is an amazing journey, and it's one big place!

Though a little weary and worn down, they look good. We think they'll be in Annapolis on Monday.

Keep pedaling guys. We're impressed and quite envious!

(PS - I'll try to get a link to all the pictures later tonight. Pat)

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