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Eureka, he said.

Normal isn't a very helpful word. It's just not very specific. Sometimes it's what you warmly expect, like a dog greeting you after a long day. Sometimes it's what you lamentably expect, such as any phone call to your cable provider or an airline, predictably painful. Most of the time, it's just everything that happens around you, all that stuff you don't notice. Boring, unremarkable, invisible, unimportant. This kind of normal is everything a bike ride should never be.

A couple months back, I caught myself recently thinking I'd do my normal ride. Normal what, exactly? This somewhat-entitled thought bit into me like a tick, embedded and unwelcome. These redwoods, these crazystraw descents through sunlight patterns, the serotonin, the dopamine, the sound of my rear hub coasting, like a deftly played instrument silencing the packed theatre. All of this must never be taken for granted. So I did the only thing I knew to do. I set up the biggest, grandest, most non-normal 3-day ride I could think of. So big it might actually not work. So big we might have to uber home. I couldn't think of the last time I started a ride not knowing if I'd finish. Regardless of what happens, that's an edge worth looking over from time to time.

I needed a wingman. Someone I knew, and someone I knew would be up to the task. Josh was an easy choice, and the reply was swift and enthusiastic. We'd leave the Bay Area in a rental car pointed north on Thursday night and drive to Eureka wearing lycra, bikes tetris'd into the back seat. Many hours and a burrito later, we unpacked our bikes in the dark and got the sleep we could. It was a long way home, and we had barely more than I'd take on a normal 3hr saturday group ride. I had one of thos...