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Day 5: The Trade
We awoke to a soft rain in the Balboa Vineyard. I got up first and had a proper shower then put the coffee on…I was hoping our day of riding would start in the rain, but almost as soon as I had that thought, the drizzle stopped. There'd be no rain, we'd just peacefully roll out the gravel drive dry and find ourselves unintentionally on the Cycle Oregon route. But from Walla Walla there was really only one scenic route into Pendleton where we were headed. Today we'd trade Hahn for Tracy, my wife. It was our anniversary and we had rigged a swapping of Hahn as he need to be back in Seattle for the Cyclocross season opener Star Crossed.
Gray. Cold. Kinda windy. Dreary. You know…Seattle. It was hard to pack my bag to ride for two days with Rapha and actually force myself to keep it light. Supposedly, over there, in central Oregon, in the middle of cattle, cowboy, and rodeo queen (oh I love me a hair sprayed, rhinestone studded, rodeo queen) country, it was actually quite warm.
Aaron, my life mate, my husband, my baby-daddy, arranged a trade the last few days of Cycle Oregon. Hahn for his wife. It was very kind of all involved (Cole, Carey, Kansas, GJ, Hott Sam, Benji, Jake, Landon) to approve of such an unprecedented event- it was probably a pain in the ass….but these guys understood matrimony and promises and the importance of a five year mark. They get it.
The gray turned to blue and gold at the instant of passing to the east of the Cascade range. You can count on that on most days of the year. I was on a private plane, sitting next to our friend and pilot, Xylon. I’m happy to huck myself down a mountain on a bike or a snowboard any day of the week, but flying is something that terrifies me. So I found it odd that I was fascinated by the procedures, the controls, and the jib jab jargon of air traffic controllers. There was no fear of the flight, only the lingering fear of riding with this team and getting repeatedly dropped. I didn’t want to disappoint them, nor my husband. I’m strong on a bike…but am I Rapha strong?
We landed in Pendleton in quick order. A straight of gray in the middle of amber waves of grain. Just like the song. The majesty of the landscape forced me to hum the rest of the song. I’m just finishing an inspirational “America, America, God shed his grace on thee…”, when I spy the Rapha Sprinter. It’s black, (of course) It’s sleek. Its conspicuous logo captures sun and slightly blinds me. The door opens. They come pouring out. The husband, the photographer, the videographer, the team, the everybody and everything. I feel like a movie star and I wish that I had applied some lip gloss.
The team puts my bike together, grabs my bag, loads everything into the van. They are tired. The are weary. They are hot. They are in need of clean clothing(!). They’ve been putting in big miles and for days. But I’ll tell you straight up that I knew immediately every single one of them were of the same caliber as Aaron….generous, hilarious, smart, dedicated, mentally and physically unbreakable. My composure eased. I relaxed. I was ready. I’d do their laundry. I’d follow them anywhere and everywhere.