This guest blog is written by Patty Gentry, a recent WABA in the Wild rider, who shares her experience on the trip this past June. Imagine it. You’re sitting at the dinner table, covered in dried mud. Your butt is sore from riding over 120 miles without much training. You’re eating a warm bowl of spaghetti and meatballs made (with lots of love) by staff and volunteers, and you have the biggest smile on your face. This was me on the last night of WABA in the Wild. I don’t know what it is about “bike people”, but overall they are a special group of people. The riders and staff that participated in the WABA in the Wild ride are no exception—from the moment that we arrived at check-in at the REI in Rockville, I felt taken care of, excited, and a little nervous for the next three days. The WABA crew stored my bike, tent and bag and all the riders piled into a van for the drive out to Cumberland, MD. We arrived to a smiling crew that welcomed us to our home for the night. After setting up my tent, we spent the evening getting to know each other, and learned more about all the different programs WABA offers. The group consisted of some seasoned riders, new riders, riders who trained, and some who didn’t (*cough…me*). We all came to this ride for a variety of reasons, but we all had one thing in common—we love to bike and we want more people to be able to bike and bike safely. To me, it doesn’t get better than a night out under the stars with like-minded people. (Plus, access to the sweet YMCA showers didn’t hurt either.) Over the course of the next three days, I had an incredible ride. I pushed my physical and mental abilities and proved to myself that I could do it. At the end of each day, I was at ease sitting around the dinner table with the other riders and hearing about everyone’s epic day. And, it was pretty nice having someone else make my food! The 184.5 miles of the C&O Canal towpath seemed like every mile had something new and fun to offer. Whether it was a paved section right next to the river, a downed tree to hop over, or splashing through mud puddles, it was all pure adventure. I saw so much wildlife, too! I stopped on the trail to move turtles, let a deer and its fawn pass in front of me, glimpsed cardinals, blue jays, and hawks, and said an occasional hello to other humans on the trail. It was truly incredible. I wish I could do it again, and I just might! If this is sounds up your alley, you definitely don’t want to miss WABA in the Wild this October. The staff and volunteers on this ride helped and supported me through every mile – from finding mile 184.5 alllllll the way to mile 0. I’m sure that you’ll experience even more and I can’t wait to hear all about it. Learn more and register here!