2117

Patrick only ever bicycled 2117 miles of his journey across America.

This week, we passed the 2117 mile mark.

We stopped there when Megan's odometer clicked onto the number. We were on the side of the Yellowhead highway, and we pulled our bikes off into the grass by some nondescript structure of beams. We climbed up onto them, and sat in silence for a while.

It hurt.

I told a story about me, Patrick and some friends stacking up picnic tables at our old middle school and climbing up them in the dead of night. Rachel talked about a night bar hopping where Patrick broke his glasses (for probably the 100th time). Megan and Greg listened quietly, their thoughts drifting back not just to Patrick, but to Margaret and Synne and AJ and Daniel and other friends taken too soon.

The sun was high, the wind was good. We hopped back on our bikes.  

We rode the 2118th mile. 

It often feels profoundly unfair to ride these miles. Why did chance put the four of us on bicycles instead of in coffins? Why do we get to ride on?

We finished the day's ride in Prince George, one of the largest cities of our journey so far. The time in town felt light and exciting. I picked up our mail at the post office, and its contents brightened our day. Letters and packages from friends, family and lovers lifted the occasionally feeling of isolation that onsets on the road. We stayed with a kind retired couple, ate Tim Horton's (a Canadian classic) for the first time, and even got interviewed by a local television station. 

We're going to ride another 2117 miles, and another 2117 after that, and again and again. We have the privilege to ride for those who no longer can.