Dear Mom & Dad,
So, remember back in January when you sat me down to discuss your concerns for my generally sedentary lifestyle, my overall cardiovascular health, and the deterioration of my major organs at such a young age, not to mention my growing dislike for sweat, and physical activity? And remember how you said you wanted me to go to Camp Geneva (aka: Geneva Across America): to see the country up close and personal, make new friends, and engross myself in a epic adventure of a lifetime? Remember all that? Well, why didn’t you just come out and say it…”Hey Mikey, you are unhealthy and fat, and you need to get moving before it’s too late!
Me, before I really knew what was ahead of me this summer…
Little did I know what I had gotten myself into. Here I thought we were going to travel the country in a luxurious bus, watch movies, see the sites, eat the foods from all around the country and enjoy an adventure in the comfort of air conditioned accommodations…yea, right! This has been anything but laid back and luxurious.
Well, we arrived in San Francisco and slept at the church of Dr. and Mrs. Peters…they were very nice and even shared their chocolate with us…Mom and Dad, they know everything about chocolate!
Then, one of our leaders named Jeff, wanted to take us on what he called a “fun ride.” So we road our bikes over the Golden Gate bridge…half up hill and half downhill, it was pretty cool. But then he wanted to take us to a light house and these other little towns and we started climbing these huge hills and descending on an 18% grade…yea, 18%, are you kidding me? I thought I was either going to throw up or pass out…but since I couldn’t figure out which one to do I just kept peddling. It was nasty scarey.
The next day Jeff wanted us to ride down to the beach, which I thought would be fun, you know, play in the waves, boogie board, snow cones, funnel cakes, all that beach stuff. It was then that I realized this group was a little strange. All they wanted to do was dip their tires in the water and keep riding…weird.
Then we road through the city and down to the pier to get on a boat…so I was thinking all right, a cruise ship! Again with the big hills, but this time they were mostly downhill. And the “cruise ship” was nothing…they had one TV and all it got was the weather station. The “spa” was nothing more than a bathroom and the dining room was a bar without free chips, or peanuts or anything…weird again.
And then, they wanted to ride even more….like for the rest of the day, and the next day, and the next day, and the next day! Six days without rest. Up a hill, down a hill, up a mountain, down a mountain, over and over and over again. At one point I tried to convince the doctor on the trip to sell one of my kidneys to lighten my load or maybe replace it with a third lung…he was not cooperative…and we just kept riding up hill: 3,000 feet, 5,000 feet, 7,00 feet, and 9,000 feet. These people are nuts!
And when we started setting up camp, yea no luxury accommodations here Mom and Dad, just camping…it was then that I began to realize that this was not going to be like that fat camp you sent me to in Arizona, you know the one with the spa, fuzzy bath robes, dietitians, shrinks, putting lessons, and treadmills in the pool. No this was a serious, hard core, Mikey you’re fat camp kind of stuff! Not cool Mom and Dad, not cool!
We biked up SO many of these. The views were pretty great, I guess.
Get this, we road over seven mountains in California alone, including Carson Pass (8,573 feet high). “Snow capped mountains majesty,” my foot, it was cold and there was snow! What happened to “summer vacation?” And then we climbed over 12 mountains in Nevada, 12 more in Utah, six in Colorado, one named Lizard Head Pass, and another called Monarch Pass (over 11,000 feet high)…that’s 37 mountains of pain and agony, out of breath and with no chips or soda, not even a Popsicle. All they want to feed us is fruit, pasta, Perky Jerky, and Peter Rabbit organic fruit snacks. At some point fast food started to seem repulsive…yea, weird.
And the weather has been nuts! We road in the rain, we camped in hail, we went through an earthquake, and lived through not one but two sand storms, and when it got hot it was over 100 degrees hot! Did you know that they were going to do this to me? Did you? Not cool Mom and Dad, not cool.
This has been hard, really hard. So hard that the leader Jeff hopped on a plane to go home after one week, something about “not enough vacation time.” Yea right! And this other guy, Ed, the second week, he faked a “stomach ache” all the way to the hospital in order to get home.
Christy, Becky & Fiona. Our fearless leaders!
And our other leaders, oh my head, they are little ninja bikers. Becky the bull dog, the woman is ripped, and flies up the mountains in one breath. And Fiona the ferocious princess, is anything but a wimpy queen in waiting,. That lady rarely breaks a sweat and is always ready for another 50 miles. Yea the rumor is that they were once navy seals, but now live or work in the woods somewhere…I am not sure. Then they threw in this other lady that is always happy and positive just to balance them out. Christy the princess of positivity. The lady has 37 inch legs, like both of them…which gives her 10-12 more rotation than the average human being. She could ride 300 miles a day if she wanted. And she is always happy, encouraging, look at the bright side and never seeing the moon. The other day she tried to convince us that she just started riding a few years ago and now she is riding across the country…yea right!
So here we are, near the end and we have ridden nearly 3,600 miles. I have gone from 225 pounds to 188 pounds, with more muscle than ever before, and now I think I actually like exercise, camping out, and bike riding. I do not even mid sweating a little bit, and I look forward to riding each day. We are meeting really cool people every day, and we have ice cream at least twice a week and Dr. Jim brings us donuts…but no burgers or fries, but that’s okay because that stuff is unhealthy. I have learned the value of living in community, facing my fears, pushing forward even when I am not happy or comfortable, challenging myself to try new things (like rice and beans, reading a thick book, and riding over a 10,000 foot mountains). Kind of cool Mom and Dad, kind of cool!
Life is not always easy Mom and Dad, sometime you just have to hang in there and push through it. In fact, life is like a bicycle trip, sometimes its slow going and tough, like climbing a mountain, and sometimes it’s as sweet as a 10 mile downhill at 40 miles per hour, or even 50 mph…with a helmet on of course.
It has been a journey of a lifetime. And, hey, fat camp worked, I lost nearly 40 pounds. Bazinga!
All to say, this has been the greatest summer ever and the best camp I have ever gone to in my life. In fact, they are thinking about doing it again and I thought maybe next time we could bring the entire family to Camp Geneva.
Okay, see you at the beach in a couple of weeks!