Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Day 24: sleep, eat, ride, eat, ride, eat, ride, eat, ride, wash, eat

I resisted the impulse to talk about the daily routine of a transcontinental PAC Tour in the early blog entries because at that point it was somewhat theoretical. As you know, in theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is. Its safe to say that at this point there ain't no theory left in that puppy. We have thoroughly practiced the rote steps, efficiently allowing precious energy to be diverted from the brain to the gut and legs.

Here is the chronology for today which follows the pattern "breakfast in hotel dining room" (the other option is "breakfast at trailer in parking lot"). The stuff that was unique for today is in italics. Or just skip this detail and see the title of this post.

5:50 AM Get up, bathroom, get into bike kit except shoes.
6:15 Go to breakfast area, fill cup with swill hotel calls coffee, prepare bowl of oatmeal, eat it all.
6:45 Apply sunscreen, pack up rucksack and computer case.
6:55 Take bike and computer case to parking lot, stow computer case, fill tires, prepare water bottles.
7:00 Return to room, final check nothing left in room, take rucksack to parking lot, change into cycling shoes, hand rucksack into trailer for transport to next destination.
7:05 Turn on bike lights, start Garmin, roll out!
          * pedal 28.0 miles *
8:43 1st rest stop, spend 5 minutes grabbing food and refill water bottles while enjoying other riders signing along to a Bob Segar song on the player that I don't know.
          * pedal 27.1 miles *
10:23 2nd rest stop, spend 2 minutes grabbing food and 25 minutes in order to make phone call for wheel repair.
          * pedal 26.1 miles *
12:25 PM Lunch stop, spend 28 minutes ingesting food, soda, desert, refill water bottles.
          * pedal 30.3 miles *
2:32 3rd rest stop, spend  14 minutes grabbing watermelon, refill water bottles while enjoying Almond Brothers on the player. Also meet up with Mike, local friend of Asheville Blue Ridge Bicycle Club, who came out to meet us.
           * pedal 22.0 miles with local guide *
4:04 Arrive at hotel, put bike on rack, stop Garmin.
4:05 Give tour of ride finale to Mike who is appropriately impressed.
4:10 Turn off bike lights, lubricate chain, wash bike.
4:20 Bring bike and rucksack to hotel room, plug in chargers for lights, phone.
4:30 Shower, put on street clothes.
5:05 Meet Heather, another local friend of Asheville BRBC, who will take us to dinner.
5:30 Order and consume large meal of Thai food with Heather grabbing the check! (over our objections I might add)
7:00 Get tour of Midland including critical refueling stop at local ice cream shop.
7:30 Return to hotel. Housekeeping: do laundry, enter ride data into Strava, transfer pictures.
9:00 Work on blog entry
10:45 Sleep

The stuff not in italics is pretty much the same every day, although your mileage may vary.

Our first day in Michigan revealed a completely different environment than what we left on the west side of Lake Michigan. Much of Wisconsin is contiguous farmland, but at least the part of Michigan we saw had mostly forests of pine and oak which farms and fields rarely interrupted. About half the roads we rode on get the "worst yet" ranking --- Michigan is giving South Carolina a run from its money in the race to the bottom of road maintenance.

My standard start-of-ride shot. Yes we are still going East!

The route went through some National Forest land. It was cool in those trees --- around 53 degrees!


Fellow tourists Tom and Paul in my first attempt at a moving selfie:

The most elaborate aircraft display I've ever seen in front of a VFW hall:

One of the rare fields

Greetings Barry!

This house may take the cake for prettiest of the tour:

The last 20+ miles were on the Pere Marquette Rail Trail. Michigan may not fund its roads, but it has an extensive network of bike trails.

Live action riding on the rail trail:

With local BRBC friend Mike S

Monday, July 30, 2018

Day 23: Rest day

We bid goodbye to Wisconsin and said hello to Michigan today without a single pedal stroke, the first day without riding in three weeks.

We had a leisurely morning in Manitowoc WI. The mouth of the Manitowoc river has a major grain elevator complex which Paul researched to find that it was a malt-making plant. Although the Budweiser brand was on the building, it is an independent company that makes malt, we assume it supplies all those craft breweries in this part of the country. This large tower is involved in unloading grain from barges somehow:

Looking back into Manitowok from the deck of the Badger ferry just before it set sail at 2PM.

View across the lake after setting sail:

This boat moves at about the same speed we do on the bicycles, but it creates a bigger wake as you can see in this short movie:

You can tell that Courtney and Mike are in our group from those tan lines on the legs

Paul catches some flies:

Out of sight of all land

Land Ho! The Michigan side comes into view. This coast presents huge sand dunes to the lake:

Everyone wakes up as we approach the port. I found it interesting that the clouds formed only over the land. My guess is the lake is cool so no updraft.

 This ferry only has a ramp on the stern, so it has to turn around and back into the slip (center):

After getting driven to the motel we received a nice visit from my co-worker Cody who works remotely for Ericsson as I do. He and his walking one-and-only transported Paul and I to a pub in the cool part of Ludington for a satisfying dinner that I couldn't finish in one go. I guess it was a bit of rest day for the calorie consumption too.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Day 22: Sunday sing along

I had an interesting phone conversation with my number one daughter a couple of days back. We were discussing how I occupy myself for the long hours of riding as compared to time in a car. I considered the question during today's ride. There are a couple of major differences.

First off the act of riding, even when by yourself, demands more moment to moment attention than does most driving. Today for example I was ruminating for a moment about something I'd said but quickly found that I had to pay attention to some rough spots in the road. So the kind of extended thoughts that you might develop when driving tend to get clipped when on a bike.

Secondly I don't listen to music or radio/podcasts when I'm riding like I do when driving. I want my ears to be open and attentive both as a matter of safety and because you can hear things like the calls of Killdeer and Red Wing Blackbirds when you are going 18 MPH instead of 70 MPH.

However not playing music doesn't turn off the music. Sometimes you hear something that reminds you of a song, e.g. my bike computer makes three notes when a turn is required which are pretty much the starting of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly theme --- which is an irresistible ear worm! Then sometimes a few words, or a view, or a sign by the side of the road will recall a line from some tune, then you spend an hour or two snatching at the wisps and shades of memory trying to get the rest of the song, or maybe just the first verse or even just how the song starts! These are days is one such song for me that so beautifully expresses my gratitude for being alive and for having these days to do this trip:

These are days you'll remember
Never before and never since
I promise
Will the whole world be warm as this
And as you feel it
You'll know it's true 
That you are blessed and lucky
It's true that you 
Are touched by something 
That will grow in you, in you

These are days you'll remember 
When May is rushing over you with desire
To be part of the miracles you see in every hour
You'll know it's true that you are blessed and lucky
It's true that you 
Are touched by something 
That will grow and bloom in you
These are days

These are the days
That you might fill with laughter
Until you break
These days you might feel a shaft of light
Make its way across your face
And when you do
You'll know how it was meant to be
See the signs and know their meaning
You'll know how it was meant to be
Hear the signs and
Know they're speaking to you
To you
- Robert Buck & Natalie Merchant

One of the more pleasurable developments in our group dynamic is that as comfort levels have grown so has the willingness to start singing out loud when a song strikes, and for other riders to join in, filling in those words we can't remember, or making up new ones. Its just plain fun.

Today we completed our transit of Wisconsin, landing on the shores of Lake Michigan after 126 miles riding across flatter ground than yesterday but land which still is mighty good for growing hills.

Paul captured this short video as a pace line of Jon, Rod, me and Steve rode by some Amish folk in their Sunday best on their way to the meeting house:

These buggies have windshields:

There are some mighty shade trees

 More nice farms

Dotyville town limits

Lots of wind power on display in Wisconsin:

Fancy wood and stone exterior on this cottage. I especially like the color coordination.

They got monastaries up here:

We all scream for ice cream!

Lake Michigan from our hotel:

Paul provides the accidental art shot of the day:

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Day 21: The Rough Riders

I've been asked a couple times about whether any of my fellow tourists have had to quit the ride, so I'm guessing the readers of this blog are wondering the same thing.  We started with 22 riders planning on doing the full transcontinental trip, and 11 riders who were signed up for partial segments. As of today's destination of Portage Wisconsin, there have been two folks who were planning on doing the full trip who have had to bail early, and one who left to deal with urgent matters but rejoined (that's dedication!) and one who has converted to be a part-time rider, part-time crew member. In short, 90% of the starting full trip riders are still on the trail, 86% will be riding out of Portage at 7AM tomorrow morning, and 81% have completed all the miles under self propulsion.

We're all feeling the disappointment of John E who was involved in a crossed wheels accident a couple days ago and broke his collar bone, forcing him to abandon this morning from La Crosse. "Crossed wheels" is when riders who are riding close together (in the same direction) collide, and its not unusual for one of the riders to loose their balance as a result and fall. Breaking the collar bone in a bike crash seems like one of the most common injuries now that we wear helmets. One glance at the damage to John's helmet should convince anyone how important that precaution is!

Frankly the numbers are higher than I thought they were. I'm very impressed with the strength and perseverance of my fellow tourists. I've been lucky in only having saddle sores to deal with. Others have had that and/or allergic reactions, not enough sleep, weight loss and other aliments to contend with. I'm hoping that we've shaken out most of the issues now and everyone will meet their goal!

We entered some outrageously beautiful ridge and valley country today on the east side of the Mississippi. The second half of the ride into Portage was a bit less stunning but still very nice. Since I've never been here in the winter it will live on in my memory in the idealized state we experienced today: temperatures below 80, almost no wind and no bugs to speak of.

 La Crosse view from hotel in morning:

Day started with a fairly long climb out of town at 5%

Which got you up onto a plateau with a view and really nice farms.

Some rollers were involved:

The first sign we were entering an Amish neighborhood were these hand-stacked sheaves of hay:

The big three riders crest the hill ahead of us (Jon, Steve, John S)

Same three riders entering the curve ahead:

 Riding through a major bog after lunch:

In the later part of the day, Paul rides with crew member John S.

We had another wonderful post ride event when Paul's favorite daughter Lisa came to visit with her beau who took this picture of myself, Rachel and Dad then took us to dinner at a Japanese restaurant with excellent food.

Dad and progeny: