Today was an 84 mile ride from Wisconsin Dells to Fond du Lac. It’s getting repetitive to say that each day in the past few has been nearly perfect, yet this was another. Weather was mid 70s and cloudy. No wind. I rode mostly alone as I was moving along pretty fast. My average pace for the day was a bit over 20 mph, which is probably a PB for a non wind, non paceline speed of over 80 miles. And I wasn’t really hammering it. It just felt good.

The most interesting part of the day was a T-shirt swap at dinner. Rules are that you put a T-shirt into the pool, explaining its significance, then each person, having drawn a number to establish order, pulls out the shirt that they want most. So, of course, I had to put a Freedom to Marry T-shirt into the pool to see what would happen. It may sound obvious, but I had never spoken to group about the heart and home symbols on the shirt and how marriage equality advocates simply wanted those ideals to be available to all loving couples. The shirt was chosen by “crazy Al” (also know as “Boston Al”), the guy that has jumped into every river and lake that we have passed so far on the trip. The guy that has slept in a haystack twice so far. That’s right, in order to “get closer” to the nature, he left the hotel a couple of nights and went down the road a piece, found two round hay bales side by side and slept in the crack in between. We all think he is a bit crazy, but his joie de vivre is infectious and funny. Al told me the first night of the ride in Astoria, Oregon that his son is gay. His fatherly support to his son (who only came out to him a few months ago) was summed up with “congrats, now you know who you really are and what you want. Go for it.” So, when Al picked my T-shirt I was delighted…

Chapter II of this story continued at the bar thereafter. We have a short day tomorrow and people were happy to have a few beers. You see, the rules of the contest also allow the next person to take a shirt not only from the pile, but from any person who has already chosen a shirt. My shirt was not “passed around” this way, and though it didn’t really bother me, what was funny was that several people at the bar said that they wanted to take the shirt from Al, but knew that it was significant to him, so they let him keep it. That made me feel great. I think I need some extra shirts to pass around…

Chapter III of the story continued at the bar….One guy from England who may have had a few extra beers pushed back hard on why I was 24/7 wearing the jerseys and T-shirts. He seemed to think that I had gone a bit overboard with the whole thing and needed to “give it a rest.” I think he thought he was being funny… But what made this part of the story really cool was the fact that others in the group jumped in to try and explain why the issue is important. The fact that legally married same sex couples in NY state, e.g., can’t file federal tax returns jointly. Or that married same sex federal government employees, including military don’t enjoy pension or survivor benefits. That many people in this country don’t live in states that permit same sex marriage and therefore can’t address issues like medical proxy without cumbersome paperwork. I chimed in a bit, but fortunately others made sure this guy understood why it is an issue and why they were totally OK with my unceasing efforts to meet and talk to people in the group or others I meet along the way about the issue…

I was a bit emotionally charged up after it was all over, but I kind of relished the engagement. Not just polite conversation but after more than a month with these riders getting a bit deeper into peoples thoughts on the topic. So, all in all, a great day…

Crazy Al

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