Sunday, March 24, 2013

Final day riding ...

Saturday:  We went to bed last night expecting to wake up to another day of rain, but were pleasantly surprised to find no rain. I was determined to start with the lead riders, and try to stay ahead of anybody I could. Once on the Trace we soon were riding in a group of about 20 riders; such fun to ride in a group that large. The weather actually was overcast, and looked like rain, but since we were all in rain gear, nobody was concerned. The group broke up when Kurt stopped to walk over to a fenced pasture to pet a couple donkeys that were looking at us, and most riders stopped to watch. I stayed with a small group who just kept riding. As it turned out, the rain never came, and we were dry all day. Eventually the sun even showed itself. 

After the first rest stop, I connected with Matthew and Harper, and we rode together in a paceline that included Bud, who is 75 years old. After the second rest stop, Harper decided to ride in the van to the last rest stop, and Matthew got to ride with the lead riders and hammer it for the remaining 20 miles. 

The last stop was at a visitors center where we planned to gather and ride to the church together in Madison, just outside of Jackson. A police escort was arranged to take us the last 5 miles to the church. Riding together in a group of 30 riders behind a police car with its lights flashing, with two additional police cars alternating ahead to block all the intersections for us, was a great finish to this ride. We were almost a half-block long, occupying a full lane of traffic on a busy street. Our oldest rider, Jack, who is 85, led the group, with his American flag on his bike. Halfway to the church, Jack’s bike threw a chain, and he had to pull over. Nearly before he got off his bike, another rider had pulled next to him and put the chain back on. The group had stopped (which forced the police car to stop) and waited until Jack got back to the front --- a nice touch which showed what kind of people we ride with. 

The riders were another great group of people to be riding with and getting to know, at least a little. We very quickly came together as a well-functioning, coordinated unit. We all had our assigned work group leaders for preparing meals, packing the trailer, cleaning the churches, etc. Someone told me the average age of this group was 51 (the oldest, 85, and the youngest, 14) which I find interesting for a spring ride, organized to allowed those still in school to participate in the ride. On a side note, a rider younger than 18 needs an adult sponsor to be riding with, and of course Harper had Matthew (her dad) and me (Gramps) to keep an eye on her. 

This ride was particularly difficult for me, mostly because I didn’t prepare with enough saddle time before the ride, so was not in good enough shape to enjoy the actual ride itself. And, of course, not enough miles in before, means a sore butt on the ride! Plus, the weather conditions, not being ideal, took take a big toll on the body. Once I start training for the summer ride I‘ll see how my body reacts.

Sunday:  We rented three minivans to get everybody back to Nashville this morning. Each minivan has a driver, three passengers, four bikes, and some luggage. The Fuller van has a driver, nine passengers, the remaining bikes, the remaining luggage, and all the coolers and supplies. So off we go, in a vehicle paceline back to Nashville. Some were taken to the airport to fly home, some were picked up in Madison, and one was even biking home. Oh, yeah, it’s raining again as we drive back to Nashville.

In spite of my struggling with the biking, the trip was a total delight. Having Matthew and especially Harper along was great. Getting to interact with Harper, watching her interact with the other riders, working the build day with her, and especially getting to share my supply of cookies with her -- ah, life is good. One highlight stands out above the others: when the three of us rode past as our photographer was taking our pictures, Harper said, "I hope I didn't have any snot dripping out my nose." 

I’ll try to post a link to the Fuller site with pictures, as soon as I get home. And, I’ll post a few here when I get home...hmm, maybe a blog of pictures?

Peace ...

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bummer ...

Cold and rain. I got a late start from the church after a fabulous breakfast prepared by the Parkway Baptist men. Made it to the first van stop with the sweeps, warmed up, and left a number of riders who had already bailed, in the van. I was on my bike, waiting for the remaining three riders to mount up, but I started shivering, so I just took off. Half a mile down the road I was shivering worse, so I picked it up, trying to get some body heat going. I did manage to stop shivering, and the other riders caught me. I stayed with them for a while, but they soon dropped me. The sweeps caught up with me with about 6 miles to go to the third rest stop and I sent them ahead, telling them I was going to bail at the van stop. They did go on, made it to the stop, and sent Jack back for me. I loaded up and called it a ride. 

Of course I wanted to finish the ride, but if the van had had to wait for me I would have slowed down the van stop process, which would have inconvenienced the remaining riders, and then the lead riders would not have had service. So, it was time for me to call it quits!

All in all it was a tough day for me and for everybody else. Of course, our day’s struggle is no way as tough as the people we’re trying to help, but it was still a trying day for the riders. I did make about 60 miles of the day’s 75 miles. Since I didn’t need the van at all last year, I don’t feel too bad about my stopping early on this day’s ride, just a little disappointed.

And, from the weather forecast, it looks like more of the same for tomorrow.

Peace ...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cold but dry ...

Ahh, dry shoes to start the ride with, so it was a beautiful day for biking. When it’s cold, it’s cold, but, if properly dressed, it’s no problem. However, here’s how it goes on a cold ride. Stop at the first rest stop to get something to eat, you start to get cold. Hurry to start riding, so the body heat gets going again. But, now you’re cold for the next ten minutes while the body regulates back to riding. Brrrr, fun.

We had a late start from the church this morning, leaving some time after nine because we had a short ride day, only about 37 miles. A couple miles back to the Trace I got into a paceline and found myself trucking along at about 20 mph, which was fun for a few miles until Jesse pulled out and left me leading the pace. I kept the pace for a short while, but started to slow down, so I pulled out to let the next person maintain the pace. Unfortunately, with the upcoming incline, I was dropped. But, this was good, because I got to ride the rest of the day with Matthew and Harper. Not as many inclines today (some riders call them hills, but those riders are not from Colorado!), so I was able to keep up with Matthew, who was letting Harper keep up with him.

And, it was good riding with two really neat people (even Matthew has turned out quite exceptional, in spite of my influence). As I’ve said before, it’s so great to share this adventure with both Matthew and Harper. And, Harper (like her dad) is a nice, caring person --- jumping in yesterday to help a family in need, asking what else she could do more than once, interacting with the other riders. She’s still a kid, but look out, ‘cause here she comes.

We arrived at the church earlier than normal, but they had lunch ready for us. Yum, the fragrant aromas from cooking 30 lbs of barbecue made my mouth water. I tried to see if they needed an early taster!!!

Two more 70 plus days, with cold and rain predicted for both days. It would be easy, in that kind of weather, to be couch potatoes, but that would be boring and we would be helping no one. Life is good.

Peace ...

Another 'helping hand' day ...

But first, I have to give a 9 rating to a chocolate malt at Baskin Robbins (Tuesday evening - yum)!!

Wednesday: Today it gets down to why we ride. With 33 of us available, we split up into two groups. One group did roofing and yard work, my group helped a family with a new kitchen floor, a new bedroom floor, tearing out then replacing sheetrock, and finishing a ramp. With my limited physical abilities I do feel bad that I can't help as much as I would like. So, I started out going to the local building supply store, and purchased needed tools and supplies. We had a late start to the day, and shopping took a while. Then I puttered around, trying to stay out of the way of the more able workers. 

But, after lunch, I started to hang around those working on the ramp. We only had a handsaw to cut the boards, so my extra weight (!?!) came in handy as I sat or stood on the lumber, holding it secure so it could be cut by someone else. I’m able to anticipate what needs to be done, so was helpful getting things ready for someone else to use. Jack was in charge of this work crew, but he also had the only car on site, and had to make a run to the store. So, I found myself being the one who, by elimination, knew the most about how to proceed with our project. I ended up measuring, cutting, and drilling the boards to fit properly. I ACTUALLY felt useful on the worksite for a few hours. 

Harper and Matthew had been helping inside most of the morning, then she came out and started to help on the deck. Matthew helped her learn to use the hammer, wood chisel, and saw. Harper also had two great suggestions on how to proceed with the project. This Harper girl is A-OK.

OK, pass the cheese, because I'm not allowed to whine (wine) on the ride, so I have to do it here. We had a great build day, but I had a very achey shoulder after dinner and as I was trying to get to sleep. Sigh.

Writing my blog is fun, but I must admit it’s time consuming for me. I started this blog early this morning (Thursday) because I had no time last night, but didn’t have time to finish. So, I’ll just stop, shower, get ready for dinner, then try to write today's blog before bedtime. 

Peace … 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A much better day ...

… except for the 96 miles! The day started cold; my bike thermometer registered 32.5ºF. Fortunately, my jackets did get dry after all the rain yesterday, but my shoes were still a bit damp. And, damp shoes with the cold temp made for very cold feet. One of the riders came up with the idea of putting hands on the hood of the van to warm them up, which was definitely a benefit. Some riders even warmed their faces on the hood as well.

But, surprise, surprise, I finally started to get some confidence on the bike, and didn’t have nearly so much trouble with the distance as I thought I might. The shoulder was still bothering some, but was more manageable today. My butt, however, was hurting! Of course, the entire body needs the training (which mine didn’t get) to be able to handle the long hours in the saddle. 

Family… so proud of Harper! She did a leapfrog kind of day. Instead of trying to ride the entire 96 miles, she decided to try for something she could do within reason. She rode the first 27 mile segment, got in the van for the next 20 miles, rode, van, rode. She hit her day’s goal of a metric century, 62 miles. Pretty darn good for a 14 year old “punk kid”! And, on top of doing the distance, she was rockin’ in the lead pace line while her gramps was waaaay back. I did manage to hook up with a slower pace line, and had fun with that. 

We hooked up with a reportedly “mad cameraman” at the first rest stop, and I was asked to talk to the reporter by Melissa, so I waved Matthew and Harper over, and we three had a fun time talking with the media. Harper spoke right up, answering the questions like a regular rock star.

A build day tomorrow, and I already know I’ll be hurting. So, as usual, the ‘kids’ will do the heavy work, and I’ll have to be satisfied with mostly doing little things to help. 

Let me tell you, it’s such fun riding with another great group of riders again, ‘kids’ who don’t have much bike experience, but are riding really well. 

Peace ...

Monday, March 18, 2013

A storm? ...

So, I guess we rode through a storm today. Dry when we woke up, but by the time we had breakfast, cleaned up, and saddled up, it had started to rain...and it rained...and rained harder...stopped for about an hour...and rained the rest of the ride. It finally stopped just before the last riders reached the church. I’m not sure when the last time was that I rode an entire ride in the rain. The support van found a rest stop, so we set up the food in the ladies’ room, and used the men's room for other necessities. 

Harper rode the entire first leg, about 23 miles, although she tried to extend it to 25 miles which I guess she thought sounded better. Regardless, she was a trouper! Fourteen years old, riding 23 miles in a storm is most impressive; I’m really proud of her. I ended up riding the last 35 miles seeing only one other rider, (other than at rest stop), who came up and blew by me. 

I went through both of my rain jackets trying to stay warm, as it’s almost impossible to stay dry. As long as the temperature is not real cold, even though you are wet, the rain jackets will keep you warm enough. It gets cold when you stop with the van to get something to eat, which you need, but eating does not generate body heat, so you have to try to eat fast enough to get back on the bike before you get cold. 

Tonight we are trying to get our clothes, shoes, and jackets dry for the morning. Both my bike bags were soaked, and I put the large one in the van for the last leg. It’s heavy enough without being water logged also.

We had a presentation at the church tonight, and Melissa asked me to speak. I think it went well. Three others spoke and did excellent jobs. The church members seemed receptive, and asked some questions (always a good sign they were at least paying attention).

I was still struggling with the riding today. Wearing the brace seems to make my wrist ache, and last night went I lay down for bed, I realized that my (bad) shoulder was aching also. So struggling with the ride was bad enough, now my entire arm ached the entire ride. I finally ended up taking the wrist brace off, which helped a little. We have 96 miles to ride tomorrow; not sure if I’m up to the entire distance. Forecast is cold in the morning, warming up about the time some of the other riders will be finishing. If it stays dry I should be able to stay warm enough, and we’ll see if I’m able to make the distance.

Peace ...

Riding with family ...

First, yesterday: I forgot to mention that Saturday evening after dinner we again went downtown, just to see what we could see. A certain person saw The Hermitage Hotel and remembered that that hotel has a famous men's room (located outside the Oak Bar on the ground floor). And taking pictures is allowed. So we found a place to park (not quite legal) and headed to the hotel. Matthew, being the smart one, would not leave the car illegally parked, so he drove around for a while. That left AMW, Harper, Patrick, Allen, Alex and me headed to the men's room, escorted by the greeter at the door of the hotel. She opened the door, and announced that women were coming in. Some guys were just leaving, so in we went. It’s very nice men's room, but special? I guess since they let women in, that makes it special? There are two shoeshine stands in there, facing a row of urinals. As we all gathered around the shoeshine stands, our escort took our pictures using our cameras. As she finished, two guys came in to use the urinals. This certain female person who started this excursion walked up to the urinals, stood next to one guy, and pretended she was using the facilities, all the while telling the guy she was not looking. Maybe you had to be there, but it was hilarious! 

Sunday morning as we were getting ready to ride around the parking lot for a local TV station, Harper managed to fall over while straddling her bike. A little road rash, one spot bleeding a little, so I managed to get a bandaid on it, and we were off just a little late. She did a fantastic job of riding today. She was riding with Matthew all day, and with me a little while. She was ahead of me mostly, until the first rest stop, when (using my superior sneaky knowledge) I used the rest stop faster than she and Matthew. They did manage to catch me twice, Harper catching and passing me, but then stopping to rest while I continued to ride. I did manage to get to the church ahead of them, but that will probably not happen often this week.

The church is on top of a hill, with a steep gravel rutted road leading up to it. Last year I gave a feeble effort to ride up, but got stuck in loose gravel and was in the wrong gear. This year with my new bike, and knowing what it was like, I was determined to ride the hill. I managed to get thru the worst of the loose gravel, rode thru two ruts, a little more loose gravel, but the third rut with loose gravel got me. Not going very fast, in my biggest gear, I only scraped my elbow and knee, not even needing a bandaid, but the road was so steep that when I fell, my bike went backwards over my head trying to get away from its crazy rider. Today I couldn’t figure out why only one buttocks was sore, when it dawned on me that it hurt because I fell on that side. 

No internet service tonight (Sunday), so this will have to post tomorrow. Today was the longest ride for me this year. About 48 miles, and tomorrow will be about 55 miles. With this my longest ride so far this year, you might deduce that I may not be in the best shape to be doing this ride, and you would be correct. I seemed to have a lot of trouble getting motivated to ride this year, especially evident when the weather was good. I was struggling today with my effort, not depressed or down about it, just struggling to get some decent pace or rhythm. The rest of the week will tell, but I was wondering today if the 7,400 miles I rode last year may have taken too great a toll, and this 70 year old body is telling me something. Time will tell I guess. 

Getting close to bedtime, and I need to get organized. I’ll probably get organized about the end of the week when the ride is over (as always).

So neat to be riding with Matthew again, and with Harper as well, experiencing on this adventure what a fabulous young person she is becoming.

Peace …

Saturday, March 16, 2013

And so the adventure begins for 2013 ...

After 18 hours driving straight through, Amw and Alex had already checked in to the hotel and had bought three pies, ready for our dining pleasure on “Pi Day”,  a nice ending to a long drive. I’m not mentioning any names, but Kelsey Correa never showed for our reunion, canceling at the last minute. Allen joined us the next morning about 10. We had a great time reminiscing about the rides we’ve been on, and laughing at ourselves. 

Friday morning, we slept in late, had breakfast in the hotel, then headed to downtown Nashville where we ran into March Madness. We found a nice place to hang out for lunch and avoided the crowds downtown. Then over to the Vine Street Christian Church we went, to check in for the official start of the Spring Ride, and a reunion with Jason, Turbo, Sarah, Ryan, and Melissa. 

Saturday morning orientation started with get acquainted games, as we attempted to learn the other riders’ names and a little bit about them. Then we put on our riding clothes and took off for our practice/get acquainted with how we ride, ride. Turbo and I were sweeps today, and I actually have a rider on this adventure I can keep up with. I ride in the Boulder, Colorado area (which just happens to be the fittest city in the U.S.) and I often tease riders as they ALL catch and pass me, “Why aren’t there any 85 year old women out here I might be able to keep up with?” Well, we now have an 85 year old guy on the ride I can keep up with (so far). Now if we can get a few more really old riders, not young guys like me!?!

I think we have about 33 adventurers on this trip, and learning names is a real challenge for me. We get to know each other in our “street” clothes, then we dress for riding (adding sunglasses and helmets) and I have to figure out the names of the same people again, as they all now look completely different in “bike” clothes. But, as usual, it seems like a great group of people assembled to make a difference in our troubled world.

Peace ...