Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Boat Anchor or How I Came to Love Fatigue and Friends

Good grief is that a face only a mother can love? I don't know as my mother's been gone a long time so I can't ask. I personally know it to be the face of someone that foolishly rode much further in less time than in any other time in his life.

Rewind. Friday night I went on the HC night ride. Oh it was fun. Twenty two miles of great cool entertainment. So far so good.

After three hours of sleep, I got up, got on the Bleriot and rode to HC and rode with the same bunch and more. Only its 21 miles there from my house. We rode to breakfast in St. Paul. We rode back, and I bailed out early and headed toward home. I arrived home with 56 miles. This adds up to 78 miles. Nice training regime. Dodo. The day before riding 200K.

So I got lots of sleep and met these two at Bill's house at 6:30 AM.Here Jim (in red) and Bill (in green) stare at me in wonder why I'd photograph them. Realistically? They should be named; Kind and Kinder. Why, that will come, be patient.

The train loading process was confusing. We were hanging around the baggage loading area when an Amtrak gal saved us with the ominous question, "What are you doing here?" Timidly we mentioned boxing bikes and tickets and junk. Ultimately, she was a huge help, she got us the boxes, she got us the paperwork, she got us tape to close the boxes, she lent us a pen to write our names on the boxes, she loaded the boxes on the cart upright. Although gruff on the exterior, she was a very pleasant person to deal with.

Soon it was obvious the train was late and there were no spare seats in the waiting lounge. We'd pulled our Carradice bags off the bikes with our helmets and sat around yakking. It was an interesting segment of society at the train
depot. While I stood in line for my ticket, I ended up speaking with a fellow out of a long stay in rehab. Four years. Meth. He was as nervous as a cat as it was the first return home since entering rehab. He made a succession of cell phone calls from the train on his way to Milwaukee. I wanted to wish him luck, but I chickened out.

The prime reason I neglected to do my boy scout best was I went to pick up my Camelback from the overhead bin only to discover it was empty. Did I not screw the top on tight enough? Gravity feed? Maybe the weight of the saddlebag was on the mouthpiece? I don't know, and I didn't know where the liquid was so what could I tell some attendant? Um, see, this here sugary blue liquid is going somewhere, maybe you'll have a clue? I hope it didn't get sucked into some poor person's baggage. It was also obvious there were not many getting off and they were in a hurry got get us off and try to make up time.Here you have the "seen better days" of the Winona depot.

And here you can see one of the finer Amtrak baggage handlers about to drop the first bike out of the train baggage car.

I do mean drop as the recipient didn't prepare and the dropper didn't care. They then proceeded to pile them onto the top of the baggage cart which was convex so that they looked rather precarious. Instead of trying to snap a photo of the impending disaster, Jim ran up and politely requested if we could take them right there and save them the trouble? Good lord, what a smart idea.

While he did that, I amused myself thus. And then I took this.

While Jim filled his water bottles and Bill made sure things were ready and soon we were off. Me on a Bleriot, Jim on a Romulus, and Bill on his Redwood.

We discussed what route to start with, and we soon went the scenic route over the bridge in Winona over to Highway 35 in Wisconsin. When we turned North it was obvious the tail wind was favorable. Bill quickly set a quick pace and I tried to hang on close enough to his slip stream. I knew I wasn't in
shape to lead this trio. It took hours, but a noon start, and by the heat of the day at 5 PM we were trying to climb the hill outside of Bay City. A nice two mile ride up and a great two plus ride down. Only I sucked. I just no longer had it. I was the boat anchor. Kind and Kinder? They waited for me. I had no business riding with them, but they put up with me admirably.

Soon every peak was an excuse to wait for me.

I can explain how demoralizing it feels to be waited for at every stop. That is the way it is. I kept resolving not to blow up, not to expend needless energy on any chase or efforts to win back my ability to rise to a challenge. I kept remembering the words the commentators would make when a rider in the Tour de France would go off the front in an effort to win a stage or gain a climber points. Then later, they blow up, completely. And the commentator would always say, okay, forget it, stick to your own pace. Recover and ignore it all, the people passing, the lack of cheering, the impending red lantern and the broom behind you. No, I'm not comparing myself to anyone capable of the tour, but the method of sticking to pedaling in circles, to conservation and pushing the pain and the fatigue and the heat out of your mind and just climb at a rate you can handle. Regardless if its an overweight 50 YO climbing at 4 MPH or a racer flying up a mountain at 19 MPH while his competitors fly by at 22 or 25 MPH its all the same. Give up? Go home? Keep going to live another day?

The worst thing about Highway 35 was the fucking motorcycles. On a bicycle alone you can hear a lot. Birds, wind, crickets, cars, trucks, and the stupid harley loud pipes that in their mind save lives. I can tell you from experience its bullshit in the best redneck form. You hardly hear the stupid pipes from their approach. Their pointed backwards, how can you? Oh, Lord, when they
go by? Of course you can hear them for miles. Does a horn section face the curtain when on stage? Do they point the loudspeakers at the ball park toward the parking lot? Of course not. But harley riders want you to think they work regardless of the law of physics. I could hear the radio playing and tell the music style on the quiet Honda Goldwings. Sometimes they were so constant it was enough to give them a headache. The police let those assholes get away with that shit, because the cops are surely in someone's pocket. The classic case of the money and bullshit are doing the talking and it surely isn't logic that applies. I will NEVER look upon a loud harley rider as anything but an arrogant idiot. They have NO HONOR and NO CLASS, only self centered arrogance from completly intelligence people who want to desperately be back in a group just like high school. Where everyone dresses alike, where how your bike looks more that what kind of human is and where how loud your pipes are is more important than the rest of your community. This is the very definition of the me generation and the definition of what is wrong with America.
Then there was the two vehicles that went by with the horn blarring, and the middle finger extended. They followed this by swerving off the road intentionally to throw up rocks and dust never realizing their timing was awful. The only thing they taught me was that Wisconsin drivers are bigger idiots than those in Minnesota. That was a first having riding in five or six states even in the south, I'd never seen that behavior before.

You'll note, I have no more photos except the one at the top which came from my house when I was finished for the day. Okay there is one, where the guys stopped for a break to eat stuff and rest a little.

This is a photo of Bill attempting to wash the gnats out of his eyes. Since I always wear goggles or glasses or sunglasses to protect my eyes and contacts from such thing, I didn't have any trouble. Okay, I'm sure I swallow a few and surely inhaled a few. Gnats I'll take anytime over harleys.

I was so fatigued at this point I'm not sure what town it was. Red Wing? Hastings? Gabuti?

I remember eating something. We ended up in a Perkins at 9 PM. Which meant it was really slow, as there was only a minimal crew. As in one waitstaff. One host and one cook. I had French Toast and I'm not a slow eater normally. Its probably why I tend to get food on myself, I'm in a hurry. I didn't have the energy to shovel hot sugary food in. I wasn't looking for a hotel anymore, though. I really knew I could to it, with the help of my friends.

There is no doubt I would not have made the distance without encouragement and hearing, "Hey! We're in no hurry." for the hundredth time and still gullibly believing them. Honest Bill and Jim would have been back at 10 PM or at least midnight without me. Did I make it more fun for them? God I hope so. I hope something came from the debt I owe them both. So the last photo is the Bleriot, after getting hauled out of the elephant. The saddlebag emptied into a carry bag because I couldn't make decisions on what should stay in the garage and what should go in to the house. Can you tell its dang glad it got that 200 pound engine off the saddle finally?

I'm not usually much on mileage until someone pointed out what I'd done. Take the 22 and the 56 and add the 147. Its about 225 miles. Or about 365 kilometers. Okay, I did it over four days, Friday night at 10 through Monday morning at 2:30 AM. I'm ignorant of what needs to be done in a brevet to qualify, but now I know I can do the mileage and with realistic training (not 80 miles the day before) I could manage to do one in better shape. And have more fun, and be more fun to be with. And be much better at ignoring the stupid motorcycles. I am deeply grateful to Kind and Kinder. Thanks for waitin'.


midway cyclist said...

Well, if we'd been any faster, we would have missed the glorious night riding, and that was one of my
favorite parts of the ride. So there.

I was glad to have you along, there was never a question but that we all would finish together. For the record though, i think Jim mentioned crashing at a hotel more often than you did while we were in Hastings :-)

Mauricio Babilonia said...

Seriously Gordy, didn't you ride farther the time you came down for BOBFest Midwest 2 back in 2002? I mean, you rode from the Cities to Madison, and then rode around in the Driftless Area with us. I can't remember now, did you ride home from that too?

this verdant country said...

Nice write-up. Your weekend mileage total was indeed impressive. And you weren't as slow on Sunday as you let on. I enjoyed the company of you and Bill and the leisurely food/rest stops. I felt like I was getting impatient to get home during the last 30-40 miles, but Bill is right that the night-riding was actually really nice. I'm glad I didn't find a motel in Hastings.

Pete said...

Don't beat yourself up too badly. That's more mileage than I've ever piled on in a weekend.

this verdant country said...

By the way, we had to wait for you. We'd have no chance with the chicks on our own.

rigtenzin said...

I'm impressed and jealous. Nice job!