Saturday, July 17, 2010

That's three legs down

Day 25. Mitchell to Sioux Falls South Dakota. Today was virtually the same mileage as yesterday, but it felt entirely different – different worse, not different better. On paper, today we rode 72 miles of mostly flat terrain through eastern South Dakota farmland. The scenery was very reminiscent of Southern Ontario. Apparently, according to other riders, it could also have doubled for Ohio, New York, Connecticut, etc. In other words, it was pretty to be out in the countryside, but not exactly enthralling. It is hard to get excited about this kind of farmland when you've seen what we've seen the past 4 weeks (or even what we've seen in just the past week).

So, on days like today, we simply look forward to the pleasure of riding our bikes. Unfortunately, this was day 8 of our third leg. Thus it was our 8th consecutive day of riding, our 17th day of riding out of the past 18 days, and our 26th day of riding out of the past 28 days when you count the day riding out to the Pacific Ocean to dip our wheels. I think everyone was a bit gassed at the day's start (I know I was), and after we battled a pesky headwind for most of the day, everyone seemed happy to get to Sioux Falls. That's a picture of today's paceline above.

One thing I can tell you though is that Sioux Falls has the worst roads of any place we've been to so far, and it's not even close. They're worse than even Toronto, and that's saying a lot. Huge potholes, massive gaps in the roadway, lots of construction, and I don't think we've ridden 1% of it yet. I am sure happy we have a rest day tomorrow.

We did pass a couple of milestones today. We completed the third of our 6 legs. We also crossed the 2,000 mile mark in the ride. We have just about 1,600 miles to go, and 3 weeks to do it in. The average daily ride will stay around 80 miles/day, but the consecutive days we ride per leg is going down. The first 3 legs took 4 weeks while the last 3 legs take 3 weeks.

So far, my riding stats are pretty respectable:

2,043 miles
16.7 MPH average speed
80 miles/day average ride

I feel pretty good, although I am not ashamed to say that I am looking forward to a rest day tomorrow. Wonderboy has been amazing. He has been put through the ringer and has acquitted himself admirably. Today he went to the bike Doctor. He got a new rear tire to replace the one that had 2 flats yesterday. His drive train/cassette got a thorough cleaning and lube. His handlebar tape got mended, and he got a new chain. That's a picture of Darwin, the bike tech expert at Scheels Sporting Goods here in Sioux Falls who performed the routine surgery on Wonderboy today. Despite being really busy, Darwin squeezed the work on Wonderboy in today. He was really nice and Wonderboy and Darwin hit it off beautifully. Wonderboy will need to be in tip-top shape to get me to New Hampshire. We may be over the hump, but there still is a ton of riding left. I have faith in Wonderboy.

We've picked up a few riders today. There are some people going from Sioux Falls on the next legs of the trip. Also, we had a few more visitors. John from Cleveland got a visit from his wife. Todd from Hong Kong got a visit from his family including his adorable 6 year old son Hughie. Phil from San Diego got a visit from his sister and brother-in-law (from Kansas). It's nice to see these folks because it helps dimensionalize the other riders in a way we haven't seen yet.

When I think about the riders, it seems to me that there are two types of cyclists that book a trip like this. The first group (the majority of this tour) are die-hard cyclists who are primarily (but not entirely) here for the cycling. They live to cycle and can't wait to ride everyday. They love big climbs, don't hate riding into the wind as much as the next guy, don't bitch about bad weather, and can talk chain stays and Shimano components until the cows come home. The other group (the minority on this tour) is here primarily for the adventure – the adventure of seeing the country, the adventure of riding coast to coast, the adventure of meeting new people and seeing new things. You know, the adventure. I am definitely in the latter group. I like cycling, but for me, cycling is a means to an end on this trip. The adventure so far has been worth every penny and worth every moment of training on the road and in the gym. It has been an awesome 4 weeks and I am looking forward to the next couple of legs as we make our way to the Atlantic.

I forgot to mention that I just had dinner with my late father-in-law's old pal Herbie Belman, who is riding his motorcycle across the country with his son Mitch. It seems that when Mitch found out about my ride (via the Alpine web site) he checked their itinerary and my itinerary and by a weird twist of fate, we ended up in Sioux Falls on the same day. We had a fine meal at Chilis and I showed Herbie and Mitch just how much I can eat (that's for you my Duchess). Just ask them. Also, I got to have my first ride on a motorcycle ever. Cool.

Less than 2 weeks until I get to see my Duchess, my kids, the old folks, and everyone else in Southern Ontario!

Now on to today's mail:

Somebody (anonymous) from Somewhere writes: "Why does everyone else's blog have pictures of you attempting to put your injured wheel on the wrong way??" Because despite being coached by technical cycling experts and despite being assisted by knowledgeable riding partners, I still struggle with the complete process of changing a f-ing tire. I believe, I am, in the words of my people, congenitally "gelaint" (that's Yiddish, for "not so good with my hands").

FYI – the DQ Blizzard count is static but the Snickers count went up by one today

6 Snickers
11 Blizzards
4 milk shakes

Here are my Garmin stats for the day:

This is Joe's blog:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for coming into the store, glad that we could get you back on the road again. We look forward to seeing you again!

    Matt L.