Final Day – Day 56: Toms River, NJ!

So, howdy!

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the only one who’ll decide where you’ll go. ” – Dr. Seuss 

I can’t believe it- I’m done. It’s a really weird thing, to have been riding a bike for so long and then finally, without any warning to the muscles in my legs, be finished. I could have kept going, if it weren’t for that big ocean in my way!  And guess what I should have prepared better for…. I’m exhausted!

This post will not be at a ‘Doug Markgraf level’ by the time I’m done with it. As it is, I have to prepare for my first day back to school (where I work) that’ll begin in some 11 hours.. So read and view on, but expect there to be much more tomorrow afternoon and evening, k?

The Stats:
Departure: Philadelphia, PA @ 8:05am
Arrival: Toms River, NJ @ 2:15pm
Distance: 75 miles (or so)
Number of friends/cyclists who joined me to the end: 11!
Number of flats that other cyclist got today (but not me!): 2
Weather: all over the place – from pouring rain, to sunny, to lightning/thunder, decent temps
Terrain: pancake with really thin-flowing syrup on it making it smooooth
Word of the day: Superman!

And no, I’m definitely not Superman. But, interestingly enough, I could have contacted and visited the hospital that Christopher Reeves spent time at after his accident, which is somewhere near Tom’s River, NJ. I did do the trademark Superman move on my touring bicycle today though! But, you’ll have to donate to my cause in order to convince me to post that photo. It was too funny.

The morning started, appropriately, in my tent. After last night’s festivities at Murphy’s Saloon in East Falls, where we held the Raisin Hope / DougTrails fundraiser event, I was suggested that I sleep in my tent! So, I didn’t hesitate at all, and set my tent up in the community garden behind my apartment. It was nice, waking up in the tent, and calmly, purposefully, prepare for my day. I was headed to the meetup spot, the Sunoco gas station at the corner of Midvale Ave and Ridge Ave, by 7:40am. Soon, me and 11 other friends and family would hit the road and begin the joyful procession to Tom’s River, NJ.

The ride there was excellent! I really enjoyed riding on the George Washington Bridge, which is at the boundary between Philadelphia, PA and Camden, NJ. Once again, I wasn’t privelidged with a ‘Welcome to NJ’ sign as I had hoped, but the photos taken along the bridge really do it justice, I think. I kicked your butt, Delaware River!

 Along the 70+ mile route, we all joked, rode fast, rode slow, and had a great time. I got no flat tires, but a few others were not so lucky. It was really amazing, having a huge group of people usher me to the coast. I only looked at a map in the last few miles of the journey. Ahhh. Thanks goes to Steph, Chrissy, Orlin, Dani, Alex, Joe, Jen, Zach, Dan, Nick, Scott, Kir, Tim and Brett for making my day so much fun!  It was indeed a big crew. We even had SAG (Support And Guidance) support by my parents!

In Tom’s River, I met Thomas O’Grady and his wife. Tom is involved and part of the Brain Injury Association of New Jersey, helping make it so that legislation and actions are accomplished and completed that make it so that brain injury survivors have the best recovery they possibly can. I enjoyed talking to Tom, who gave me a quick lowdown of what he’s currently working on with the organization. I was pleased to see that the BIANJ has helped make some national ‘firsts’ with brain injury law, including one mandating that children 17 or younger must wear helmets while skiing in NJ. Wear that helmet! But better yet, Tom and I spoke about what it might take to get Neuro rehabilitation better accepted in the healthcare industry, nationwide. Apparently, (and someone chime in here) the data is sparse, confirming that post-acute rehab for brain injury is helpful. I don’t get that whatsoever. Makes me mad. Let’s fight this.

         Funny photo caption: “Let’s all put our hands on our hips and do a dance!”

My list of demands and suggestions is forthcoming. I’ve ended my journey – even I can’t believe it. I don’t think I want to, honestly. BUT! Where I stand at this point is to understand and conclude what has happened and been accomplished.

What does brain injury mean to you? Have you learned and become aware of a bit more about brain injuries? What would you like to keep learning? What would you prefer happen next? Could :you: have done this journey? Want to challenge me to do even more?      Take all these questions in for a moment. I want you to make some decisions. Not for me, but with me!

You’re going to hear a lot more very soon. Don’t stop checking this – I promise it’s worth it. In fact, keep telling people you know about what I’m doing! I may have reached my destination (for now), but my goals for brain injury research, awareness, and recovery keep getting more and more numerous. Feel free to email me (dougtrails2011@gmail.com) if you have suggestions or requests of me. I’m not using an iPhone as my computer any more!

Stay safe! Stay alive! Wish me a good day back to school tomorrow! Talk to you very soon.

-Doug


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3 Responses to Final Day – Day 56: Toms River, NJ!

  1. jeanette says:

    Congratulations! A ride well done.

  2. steph says:

    🙂 AMAZING 🙂

  3. Kathy Kirlin says:

    Great post, great photos! I really love this one!

    Looking forward to following your mission – because I know, although the 2011 tour is completed, your overall mission is only beginning. From several states away, I can hear those gears (in your brain) grinding!

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