Day 32. Fond du Lac to Manitowoc Wisconsin. We had a nice sunny day to ride to Manitowoc today. Unfortunately we had a headwind for the entire ride today which made what was supposed to be an easier day tougher than it might have been. At last night's route briefing, today was described as a "rolling rest day". The implication being that today's ride of only 57 miles was like a rest day. Well it may have been a rest day for some other riders, but 57 miles is no rest day for me. Add to that the headwind and today's mileage coming on top of a 530 mile week, and there was cycling to be done for sure.
Also, Wonderboy had some medical issues today. Early in this morning's ride, I started hearing a clicking noise in my drivetrain somewhere. We have been instructed by the ABB staff to pay attention to noises on our bikes, especially with respect to the drivetrain (chain, pedals, derailleurs, crank). I wouldn't know what each noise means, but it was concerning to hear it so consistently during today's ride. It wasn't a safety issue because the worst thing that could happen is the drivetrain fails, I coast to a stop somewhere, pull off the road, and call the ABB van. But mechanical problems have halted the coast to coast quest of a couple of riders already, and I don't want that to befall me.
I did get into Manitowoc OK though. Throughout the ride today, the chain came off several times, my gears were slipping, and
rboy just wasn't himself. I took him to "mechanics" at 4PM, which is the daily time set aside for ABB mechanic Jim to look at anyone's problems. So, much like my Mom and Dad,
Wonderboy had a doctor's appointment today. It turns out that the problem seems to be a minor pedal issue which Jim dealt with by removing my pedals from the crank, replacing the washers in the pedals, and lubing the pedal assembly. As soon as
Wonderboy was ready to leave the doctor, we saw that he had a flat tire as well. This is flat #8 for me and I lead the tour in flats to date. We noticed that there was a rip in my rear tire, so we replaced the tube and the tire at the same time today.
Wonderboy is on his second front tire and his third rear tire (second rear tire in a week).
Wonderboy is resting comfortably now.
It's not like they didn't warn us that this tour was going to be rough on our bikes. They did. In spades. But it is genuinely hard to convey just how much abuse
Wonderboy and his friends are taking. It's quite a beating. The other riders have been to see Jim at the mechanics sessions a lot more than me. Jim patiently fixes or helps the riders fix their bikes as best he can. Sometimes he is hampered by the absence of a specific part, but usually (sometimes aided by a trip to a local bike shop) Jim finds a solution.
Anyway, today's ride was through mostly lovely (
Wisconsin farmland. It seemed tough to me. My legs (and the rest of my body) sure could use a break. Here's video of me riding through the Wisconsin countryside:
One of the things I've noticed on this trip is how much stronger everyone is getting except for me. I seem to feel like I'm getting weaker. Riders that I passed 2 weeks ago are passing me with ease. Riders I could keep up with pull away from me without any problem now. I've noticed that a lot of people have lost a ton of weight. Not me. I may have even gained weight. It sounds like the average weight loss (at least among the guys; I don't know about the women) is anywhere from 10-15 pounds, with a couple of guys losing up to 20 pounds. I seem to notice others' weight loss in their face at first. It's incredible. It's like being around a bunch of shrinking people. I guess it's good for them. But people are shriveling up right in front of my eyes. I'm not. Weird.
With respect to my riding speed, maybe I just came into the ride in better physical condition (at first) relative to the other riders (on average) and it's taken them a few weeks for their bodies to "peak". Maybe I can't get to a higher place in my conditioning. Maybe it's some other reason. All I know is my average ride speed is dropping while others seem to be improving. I know this shouldn't matter, but it's bugging me. I just wish I knew why I'm not getting stronger.
The other pressing issue for all of us is laundry. If we're lucky, a motel will have a washer and a dryer (most motels do). However, it's usually only 1 washer and 1 dryer, it's not often as clean as one would like, and when 45 cyclists pounce on it, fisticuffs ensue. Rest days and the day before rest days are the busiest for us and our laundry. I've given up on motel laundry facilities and have learned to do some research on-line to find the closest laundromat to a motel, pick a day to schedule laundry, and get it done. Between laundry days I wash my cycling clothes in the sink, wring them out, towel-dry them, and then hang them up overnight to fully dry. Today was a full laundry day. I'm really lucky because next week I'm seeing the Duchess on Friday. She's going to take my laundry after I see her in London, bring it home and wash it, and return it to me in Brantford on Saturday. Now I only have to schedule laundry once more on the trip. I'll probably do it the Thursday before the end of the trip.
Tomorrow (which is essentially a day off) we load at 9AM and have been told to meet at the ferry dock at 12PM for our ferry ride across Lake Michigan. This should be a nice relaxing day. I'm meeting the guys for a 7:30AM trip to Perkins for breakfast. Then it's down to the ferry and off to our next state (our seventh) – Michigan. We also get to cross our last time zone as well. As of tomorrow evening we will be on Eastern daylight time.
We inch closer every day. Thirteen riding days left and about 1,000 miles to go. Can I do it?
FYI – the DQ Blizzard and milk shake count is static today, but the Snickers count is up one:
6 milk shakes
Now on to today's mail:
The Vancer from Toronto writes: "I think it's cheating on a so-called cross-country bike ride when you take a ferry across Lake Michigan. I think you should post a stationery bike on deck and pedal the whole way across. Otherwise it shouldn't officially count." You have a good point there Vancer. You have a good point – right on top of your head.
Here are my Garmin stats for the day:
This is Joe's blog:
Trip journal and photos by our tour leader Mike Munk:
This link is Jeff's blog:
This link is Baltimore Mark's blog:
And this is Katie's blog: