Saturday, June 21, 2014

On to Canadaigua

Today was a beautiful day riding through New York. The sky was blue and the fields were green all day long. Although there was a lot of traffic on the road, the shoulder was wide. So it might have been a bit noisy from the cars and trucks, but it felt quite safe to be riding along. The hills and the headwinds did make it quite a challenge however. I drove the van and set up the first SAG. After the second van arrived at the SAG, I was able to hop on the bike and take off. Thus I got in 65 miles. And I was ready to quit by then. One of the pictures was from the SAG stop in Avon. Everyone was enjoying the stop in the shade and they were in no hurry to leave.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ohio and PA

I was chastised by the Brickster today for the lack of blog entries. And he was on target with his chastisement. I have been completely remiss with writing in my blog. Maybe by the end of writing today I will understand why and let you know.

So we traveled through Ohio. For those of you who have done this trip you know it is the state with the most potholes in their roads. And they haven't fixed them. The countryside is pretty but you spend so much time focused on the road that you can't really see much of it. I did my usual riding and driving for the days we traveled there. I have to confess that I didn't ride the hills to Wooster. They did not look nearly so steep from the inside of the van.

On the day from Wooster to Erie, it started out innocent enough. I was driving the truck and just as I approached Rik and Tom at about mile 20 I saw a bolt of lightening and a very dark sky. They flagged me down, got their bikes in the truck, and we assessed the situation. Luckily we found a church that had a picnic shelter on the property. As the sky got darker and rain started to fall, we were able to gather the riders off the road and get them under the shelter. It seemed like a great place to have the SAG and we all had fun for the next hour. Then the sky started to clear and the rest of the day was great.

The rest day in Erie was welcomed by all. I personally did very little. I guess I was tired. The night we got there a huge storm hit. Boy we were glad no one was out on the road. That would have been a very serious situation.

Today we moved into NY. I drove SAG van so didn't get to ride. I am looking forward to riding tomorrow. This week is the best riding of the whole trip in my opinion. However it is sad also because the trip is almost over.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Riding through Indiana

Seems like this is the time of the tour when life becomes routine. We have been on tour for more than a month. This is life for us now. Ride, Eat, Sleep, Repeat. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy this routine very much. And the end is looming which is a sad thing to contemplate.

Carol came back in Champaign. The staff has been in a strange rotation due to family emergencies, business requirements, doctor appointments, etc. Eileen's daughter had surgery so she went home in Kansas. Then Tracy had to return home for a week. So Carol came back for this week and is providing her wonderful food for the SAGs. Rik, the mechanic is back for the rest of the tour. With all the changes, the support to the riders still runs smoothly. I am back to truck driving and riding instead of van driving and riding. I must admit I like the truck better!

Yesterday we had a fun event when we got to Indy. One of the riders, Alan, arranged a visit to the ZIPP wheel factory. We were given an extensive tour of the manufacturing line. For the non riders who are reading this, ZIPP makes very high end carbon wheels. It was a fascinating tour. There is a tremendous amount of hand labor that goes into making the wheel. Thus the reason for their price.

The number of riders this year is very small. After losing two to knee injuries there are only 12 riders. However, that makes for an interesting dynamic. They have become a very tight knit group. As we watched them leave the beach in LA, the staff predicted they would be close. And they are. At every meal they want the tables arranges so that all 12 can be together. And last night they were plotting how they could all meet up to have lunch together while riding into Richmand, Indiana. I think "splitting up will be hard to do" in Boston.

The weather has been great and the countryside bright and green the past few days.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Quincy to Springfield to Champaign

First a report on the trip to Springfield, IL. Amazingly the skies were clear and everyone anticipated a nice and easy ride to Springfield.  However, true to form for the XC 14 riders, there was a significant headwind the entire day. For the riders it was a 106 mile day which resulted in the fatigue piling on even more. This is the time of the trek when you wonder why you are even doing the ride. For me between truck and van driving I pedaled 25 miles. Not quite enough to satisfy me but that is how it worked out. 

The bridge in the picture was a two lane bridge. So I had to just take my lane and go. There was absolutely no shoulder. I waited until the coast seemed clear and took off. It was not long before I could hear the 18 wheeler that came up behind me shift down and down and down. I spun my little legs as fast as I could, hoping the driver could see I was trying to move faster. As he moved past me on the other side, I gave him a nice sweet wave. Maybe that helped.  As you can see from the picture, we are now in corn country.  The corn is not very high but it is a lovely dark shade of green. 

A rider, Randy, had to drop out of the tour in Liberal, KS, because of knee problems. He lives in Springfield and he and his wife hosted us for dinner. What a wonderful treat. I enjoyed watching the riders with their voracious appetites. A large tray of a variety of cheese was set before them out on the patio. I have never seen so much cheese disappear in such a hurry. The hoard simply descended and devoured it. That was followed by lasagne, fruit, and wonderful brownies and ice cream. 

Now fast forward to the ride to Champaign. It was cold, rainy, and just downright miserable. Add to that rough roads with no shoulder and the inevitable headwinds and you have riders that just wanted the day to end. I chose not to ride because I could and drove the SAG van all day. It was so cold I had to dig out the wool Indian blanket vest I bought in Santa Fe and put it on under my rain jacket. 

Champaign is a much needed rest day. For me that means a trip to the laundromat to restock the supply of clean clothes. 

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Chilocothe to Kirksville to Quincy

I have no pictures of the ride to Kirksville. For those of you who have ridden that ride you know it is one rough riding day. It is the day of the 148 rolling Missouri hills. Now add to that a downpour all day and headwinds and you begin to get the picture. Most of the riders hung in there and did the entire ride. My hat goes off to them. It was really tough. I strategically chose not to ride. You see I can do that with a clear conscience this year. I drove the SAG van and set up the SAG in the pouring rain. I tried keeping their sandwiches dry as they ate them. But I wasn't very successful and got soaked through myself.

Today going to Quincy was a very nice riding day. I was back to truck driving and riding. Put 44 miles on the bike. The weather was cool and cloudy. We crossed the mighty Mississippi which was very full of muddy brown water. It is hard to believe we have come 2000 miles and crossed 7 state lines. Soon the epic journey will be over. Many, if not all, of the riders are feeling fatigued. And the staff is feeling it also. As in other years the rest day in Champaign will really be a welcome respite.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Challenges of Missouri Hills

Since I last wrote we have moved on from Kansas to Missouri. Leaving Kansas proved to be an adventure for half of the riders and a boring morning for the other half. The riders who normally leave at 7:00 just pulled away when the skies darkened and it started raining. After the rain got worse Robin and I got in the van and took off to keep track of them in order to get them off the road if the weather got worse. Of course by the time we found them, they were into the adventure of riding and didn't want to quit. They did take shelter a couple of times. The worst part was the winds at the trailing edge of the storm. They didn't last long but were nasty. The riders who were to leave at 7:30 were held at the hotel until 11:00 and didn't even get wet.

Today I drove the truck the first 30 miles to Maysville. The DeKalb Historical society once again hosted us with homemade cinnamon rolls and peanut butter sandwiches. They are such sweet people and were delightful to talk with. One of the ladies asked me if I was riding a special bike. I think she was wondering if I had a tricycle bike. A 92 year old gentleman warned me about the steep hill a mile out of town. I pedaled from Maysville to Chilocothe (56 miles) and found more than one steep hill. In fact there was a whole string of them.

There has been a lot of rain here and you can see that the rivers are quite full. But it sure makes the countryside nice and green.

Oh yes, our room does get a bit messy.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Almost through Kansas

We have had some beautiful days of riding to Abilene and then to Topeka. The flat western Kansas has changed to luscious green rolling hills. Of course the riding is harder in the hills but the scenery is amazing. In between the riding we had a great day of rest in Abilene.

Carol is gone and that is sad. She is a good friend as well as an amazing food preparation lady. So she officially handed the kitchen over to Eileen and I. We had our first SAG responsibility day today. I guess the food was OK. No one complained anyway.

Yesterday was marred by construction that we couldn't get through. The result of that was having to take a detour which dropped us off onto I70. That was not fun. I took the first exit back off. Then I was trying to figure out how to get to the hotel because I was way off route. That would have been easy with Google maps but my phone battery died. I followed the sounds of the freeway and headed in what I hoped was the right direction. As soon as I could, I used the old fashioned method of asking directions. I was heading the correct way and made it in.

There was no chance to have dinner last night as Eileen and I had to go shopping for food for the next day and then prepare it. We were cleaning dishes in the very small bathroom, cutting food at the desk, etc. Hopefully the food preparation will go easier going forward.