This weekend has been spent at Mom's in Columbia, SC. Having training rides to do has necessitated early awakenings and out the door before daybreak. Today, on the advice of Emily, I headed out to pedal the pavement on Fort Jackson.
Wow! What a ride and not from the training aspect, but from the perspective of one who spent 12 weeks here back in the summer of 1988. As soon as I entered the gates I ran across a unit of poor trainees in full combat gear enduring a road march. Boy, I remember those days and was so happy to be on my bike pedaling by and not pounding the pavement with them.
Further on down the road, I had to stop as another unit in PT (physical training) clothing were crossing the street, heading back towards their barracks after another 5 am workout of running, push ups, sit ups, pull ups, more push ups, side-straddle hops, and more push ups.
Don't get me wrong; I am glad that I enlisted and was able to serve my country. I am also very proud of those troops that I came across today. I just cannot imagine going through all that suffering again. Suffering on a bike is "easy peasy" compared to 12 weeks of boot camp and here is why:
- Doing push ups until your arms are noodles. I am pretty sure I counted to 250 one time.
- 10 mile forced road march in boots that were made by "the lowest bidder." No Swiftwicks at that time, either. Oh, did I forget to mention that my pack weighed 25 pounds.
- KP (kitchen police) duty. I had to peel 50 pounds of potatoes.
- 3 day FTX (field training exercise) where all we had to eat were MRE's (Meals, Ready to Eat or Meals Refused by Ethiopians). Let's just say that the plumbing did not work for 5 days after that.
- Waxing the barracks floor at 2am ... by hand ... with Turtle Wax Auto Polish.
- Trying to convince my drill sergeant on the Hand To Hand Combat field that I was going into anaphylactic shock from fire ant bites and that my death would be on his hands if he did not get me to the friggin' hospital ASAP! Obviously I was able to convince him.
- Not having to do the ropes course, including rapelling, because the ground temperature reached 115 degrees that day.
- Learning first hand the effects of CS gas at NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) training. Eyes watering like a busted waterline, snot streaming down your face, and lots of dry heaving.
- Having to do push ups in my dress greens just moments before graduation.
Today was a wonderful day on the road wearing a cycling kit and NOT combat fatigues. Emily was indeed correct. The roads were free of traffic and I was at peace reliving my younger years.