I don’t know if the title of this posting is a firefighters’ motto. I know that it has to be part of who they are, of what they do, that if they don’t have that sort of trust in their compatriots when they go into a burning building, into danger, then what they do won’t work, can’t happen. I first heard these words from a firefighter in 2007 at dinner the night before my first Trans NH Bike Ride.
The TNH is a 250 mile, three day charity ride to support the Muscular Dystrophy Association of New Hampshire. We start at the New Hampshire / Canada border and finish in Portsmouth. The first year I rode it to see if I could train for and succeed through that sort of ordeal. I did. This year I’ll ride in my eleventh. Over the years there have been many challenges, whether it be getting through the hills and flats of the state or encountering all kinds of weather from temperatures in the 40s to 90s, wind, hail, thunder, lightning, bright sunshine, and downpours (but no snow, at least not yet!). And, yes, I am looking forward to this year’s ride and whatever the weather may bring.
It’s kind of ironic the thoughts one has out on the road when undertaking this kind of endeavor. Not just thoughts of what is ahead, of the aches and pains of the ride, but also of life in general. It’s an amazing experience participating in this ride. It’s small in comparison to other events, usually around 120 riders, but some years it’s been as few as 80. This lets us get to know each other, helps develop a spirit of camaraderie. Never on this ride do I ever feel alone, even if I spend most of a day riding by myself. Whether it be the other riders, the support staff on the road, the massage therapists waiting for us at the end of each day, there was always someone there encouraging me and me doing the same for them. As I said earlier, my first year on the road I learned that no one gets left behind, that we all finish. And I guess that’s a big part of what MDA does as well, ensures that no one gets left behind. No matter the issue, whether it be a quick stop on the road to check my bike, a flat tire, or otherwise, there would always be someone there to ask if I needed help and to provide it. And I was happy to offer the same in return.
This year, in late June, I’ll be back on the ride. And for three days what goes on in the rest of the world won’t matter. I’ll share the road with brothers and sisters that come together once a year for something bigger than any of us as individuals. I’m sure that some are Trump supporters. Others are not. Some are probably apolitical. I don’t know, it’s not something I ask (although I have had some interesting conversations about politics!). For a weekend that will all be set aside, forgotten. And maybe that’s why I come back each year, because for three days each year I get to forget the general ugliness in the world, the normal rotten things that confront us every day, and be part of something bigger than what I can be alone.