Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cross One Off the Bucket List

We all have bucket lists, whether formalized or an informal, unwritten list of activities to complete before we die, or are too old or sick to do. One thing hub and I discussed was simple, doable and cheap, but we had not gotten around to it. Until one Saturday in September.
Our goal was a bike ride down the New Jersey coast from our home to a resort town 50 miles away. Many people will roll their eyes and say, that’s not a big deal. But to 60+ baby boomers who have not made physical activity a priority most of their lives, this would be an achievement.
Initially we had no intention of completing a 50 mile ride.  Our goal was to bike a little further than  previously. A steady stream of company - friends and relatives, business and social commitments, and extremely hot weather limited cycling time over the summer. 
One of the great things about riding along the Jersey coast is that it is flat. The only inclines are bridges, and bikes can easily be walked up a bridge if necessary. 

We left early in the morning, our initial objective locating a place for breakfast. 

I have been exercising regularly, attempting to build up my very mediocre stamina and squishy muscles. The long, beautiful bridge from our island to the one directly south of us has always been an obstacle for me; Saturday was the first time I rode the length of the bridge.
After two leisurely hours of cycling we were ready for rest and breakfast. We stopped at a dilapidated shack offering food and outside picnic tables, the kind of beach place open only during the season. Relaxing, eating and admiring the scenery, hub announced we were already halfway to our 'bucket list' destination, and since we had no plans for the day, why not go for it?
We continued our ride along the coast. The weather was cycling perfect - no wind, slightly overcast and not hot. 

We stopped a couple of times at convenience stores seeking restroom facilities and water, but at the shore public restrooms are difficult to locate (retailers do not want to be overrun by beach people all day). Hub had no problem using porta-potties located for the convenience of workers at construction sites. I am more discriminating.

After another couple of hours exhaustion set in, and when we spotted an ice cream stand the sign begged us to stop. Unfortunately it was probably the only ice cream shop at the shore not open during the day. A sign stated the stand opened at 6:00 p.m. We sat at the outside tables to rest for a few minutes and were too soon on our way again.
The last leg of the trip proved daunting. Hub underestimated the mileage, and our breakfast stop was not the halfway point. We rode on and on over a neverending flat expanse of pavement, sand and sea on one side and beach cottages on the other side of the road. It was a picture-perfect landscape, but I was too tired to appreciate it.

By the time we reached our destination I was exhausted, cranky, hungry, and my butt hurt. 
But we made it! 

Our first stop was the Welcome Center for a bus schedule, our transportation home. 

We consumed a high-calorie late lunch at a local pub, savoring the food and not feeling the least bit  guilty. 

The bus ride home seemed to last forever, with numerous stops. Eventually reaching the bus station closest to the house, we completed another three mile ride before finally arriving home. 
Next time we attempt a similar ride I will insist on a more accurate tally of the total distance and plan on additional stops along the way, lingering for more than a few minutes. A half hour R&R stop was all I needed to rejuvenate and complete the trip without feeling as if I could not peddle another block.
One item successfully crossed off our bucket list! An impulsive move resulted in a quest completed and a sense of accomplishment and pride. 

I am inspired to plan another long-postponed activity. It is time to write down our bucket lists, otherwise too many things will remain undone. I probably have only another couple of decades of good health and exploits left…

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