Rest day 4. Manitowoc Wisocnsin to Ludington Michigan. Today we are taking the ferry to Ludington across Lake Michigan. It's going to be a long day, but at least we can rest up for the next part of the trip. Our next leg is only 6 days long (the other 4 legs have been 9, 9, 8, and 7 days respectively). On the previous 4 legs we averaged 659 miles/leg. This upcoming leg is 520 miles, with the bulk of that coming tomorrow in the form of a 112 mile ride. We cross into Canada on Friday morning and I'll be within 60 miles of the house on Saturday when we get to Brantford.
I was going to focus my blog entry today on the ferry ride, take some pictures, and report on the ferry "goings-on", but that will just have to wait until tomorrow (here are some pictures of loading the ferry and on the ferry, and video too). Also we said hello to our 7th state – Michigan, and are now in the Eastern time zone. Almost home:
Here's some big news.
Wonderboy has agreed to conduct an exclusive interview with me this morning. Since I also double as a "field correspondent" for ABB News, Wonderboy feels he can trust me with the intimate details of his story. Wonderboy wants to let his readers understand more about what makes him "roll".
ABB: Wonderboy, can you tell us a bit more about your background?
Wonderboy: I was born in France, but I came to Canada when I was very young. My mother was French. She was famous and world-renowned and her name was Time. I didn't get to know her very well since I left France before I even "came together" as a person. My original father's name was Bicicletta, which sounds Italian but is really Canadian. Between Time and Bicicletta, I came together and became fully formed as a baby.
ABB: What happened after you came to Canada?
Wonderboy: I don't remember much, but I know my biological father Bicicletta put me up for adoption when I was very young. My adopted father's name is Mark Weisbarth. He legally adopted me when I was still a baby in 2009. I wouldn't know my real mother or father if I rolled over them today. Sometimes I hear my father (Mark) joke around that he "bought me" for a lot of money because I have such great bloodlines/cycling parentage, but I'm sure he's just joking.
ABB: It sounds like the idea of being bought touched a nerve with you; is that the case?
Wonderboy: I shouldn't be so sensitive about being adopted. My Dad has always loved me, without condition, and nobody (until today) knew that I was adopted. I'm one of 4 children he has living at home now. I have five older brothers and sisters. My oldest brother is Schwinn. He would be 39 now, but he passed away in 1982. Another brother named Bianchi also died young in 1996. My Dad loved both my older brothers very much. I do have a brother and twin sisters who are still with us. My brother's name is Rocky (full name Rocky Mountain Turbo). He's 14 years old. My sisters' names (they're twins) are Cannondale and Tandem (they're twins). They are 6 years old. I love hanging out with them. We call our house "the shed".
ABB: But why haven't you answered the question about whether being adopted touched a nerve with you?
Wonderboy: I love my Dad very much. He raised me as a single father from the time I was a baby. From time to time I see a woman coming in and out of his life though, and I can't help but feel a little jealous. She's a shadowy figure at best because I rarely see her. I think her name is "The Duchess" or something regal like that. The Duchess shares three other so-called "children" named Adam, Lauren, and Samantha with my Dad. It's like they're these other kind of children. It's hard for me to explain. They get treated differently than me and my other two-wheeled brothers and sisters. These other kids are away for months at a time. I don't see them much, but my Dad seems very sad when they're not around and he always is talking about them and asking how they're doing and worrying about them. Anyway, that Duchess woman is a very busy woman. She's like the busiest woman in the world. My Dad always says she is the busiest woman in the known universe. She's beautiful, funny, likes to golf, and loves to go to casinos. A lot of people think she looks just like Kim Basinger, but I don't see the resemblance. She's also very sparkly. I don't know what all that stuff is that she has on her fingers, neck, wrists, and earlobes, but my Dad jokes that whatever it is, it means that I have to live with cheaper tires. She spends an enormous amount of time away from my Dad, mostly with her friends. I think she doesn't mind my Dad, but it's like she's been around him forever, and finds him to be an un-funny overweight cranky middle-aged hack ad-man. The Duchess does buy me lots of presents though. Just recently she bought me new tires and a new derailleur hanger. Cool. I just put one of my new tires on yesterday. It feels great!
ABB: Is there a reason you keep dodging the question about your sensitivity regarding your adoption?
Wonderboy: Well, I'm not sensitive about being adopted. I must admit though that it rubs me the wrong way when my Dad says he "bought me". I don't think it's true, but sometimes we all feel like we've been bought one way or the other, wouldn't you agree?
ABB: I don't know about that. Why don't you tell me about your time together with your Dad since you were adopted?
Wonderboy: After adopting me almost 2 years ago, I've gotten to know my Dad really well. I actually have a special bedroom called "the basement" (my brother and sisters share "the shed" for a bedroom and I must admit I think they're jealous because I get special treatment as the baby in the house). My Dad says that's because I'm special and he doesn't want any "cobwebs" growing on me, whatever that means. Last year me and my Dad went out riding a whole bunch of times. We rode 1,614.9 kilometers last year (I can't help being metric – it's a better measurement system, and I am French by birth after all – Vive le France!) at an average speed of 25.95 kilometers/hour. We rode all over Southern Ontario. Our big exciting ride in 2009 was 159 kilometers when my Dad took me to see Niagara Falls last September. It was so cool. We saw the Falls and I got to stay in a hotel too. Neat-o. My Dad doesn't like to take me out when the weather is bad though, so I stay inside from October to March until after the snow and ice are gone from the roads.
ABB: Can you tell us about this year?
Wonderboy: This year has been very exciting for me and my Dad. After I got "put away" last Fall, I heard my Dad talking about riding his bike across North America. He would always be on his computer, researching this trip he had heard about with a company called America By Bicycle. He hemmed and he hawed and went back and forth about doing a trip this big. He confided in me that he had always dreamed about doing a trip like this. First with his late son Schwinn, and then with my other brother Bianchi, but sadly, that was not to be. Now he felt he could take the time and finally do it, but he wasn't sure he would be able to handle the riding demands.
ABB: So that's where you came in?
Wonderboy: Yes, but not so fast. First he had to make the commitment to do the ride. He kept talking to that Duchess woman and he would go back and forth about doing the ride. My Dad is one of the most decisive people I know, but for some reason, he really waffled on this trip. One day, I heard The Duchess say "why don't you just book this already – I'm tired of hearing you talk about it all the time". It was kind of like she goaded my Dad into doing the trip. Well, my Dad took the bait and signed us up. It has been an adventure, let me tell you.
ABB: "An adventure". Sounds curious. What do you mean?
Wonderboy: Well, before we even left, my Dad would take me out on these long rides. We would go out 5 times a week in cold weather, rainy weather, and even snow. We rode to places I'd never been before and we rode distances I never rode before. My wheels were killing me – just killing me. I would hear my Dad say that he was worried that he wasn't training enough and that Duchess woman would try to tell him that he was fine. I also heard my Dad complaining about how much time he had to spend on non-cycling conditioning and how he was sore, tired, exhausted...blah...blah...blah. What a whiner. Man-up, Mr. Candy-Ass. Actually, maybe you shouldn't quote me on that one.
ABB: Sorry, Wonderboy, it's all on the record. So, can you describe your trip so far?
Wonderboy: It has been amazing. My Dad and I have seen so many incredible things. We've met the best people and overcome some serious riding challenges. I think my Dad finds the long miles each day to be the hardest part. That part of it is a grind, I have to admit.
ABB: What's it like during the non-riding season?
Wonderboy: It's kinda boring. I hang out in the basement for close to seven months and all
I really see is this woman named Sonia from time to time. It seems my Dad goes to this place called "the office" a lot. It's like he's there all the time, say three or four times a week for up to one or two hours each day!
ABB: Your Dad sounds like a busy important man.
Wonderboy: Oh yeah, he's a busy important man alright. He has these people at this place called Due North Communications. They have weird names like Jill and Karen and Pitipat and Lina and Nicole and Dee (interviewer aside; Wonderboy asks me – "what's a Dee?"). These people told me in confidence that my Dad really doesn't know what he is doing and that they run the place. They're nice though. They pretend that he's in charge, ignore his instructions, and do what they want. It seems to work for everybody.
ABB: And what about your grandparents?
Wonderboy: They're just great. My Dad's Mother and Father are wonderful. They are always up to something. The Duchess' mother and her boyfriend are very nice. They always bring orchids over to the house. Aren't old people cute?
ABB: I'd like to get back to the ride if I could. What is it like?
Wonderboy: It is very challenging. My Dad and I get up each day and we don't know what to expect. That's the coolest part. Every day is new. We're going in one direction only (East) and there is no backtracking (unless someone stupidly forgets a water bottle in their room). We've seen so many cool things. But this ride is murder on me. I'm just glad my Dad lost 30 pounds before this ride. He was a lot heavier last year. I don't think he's a particularly good cyclist though. He's been kicked out of more pacelines than I can remember and he sure moves a lot more gingerly than he did 5 weeks ago.
ABB: You say you've seen some amazing things. What have been the highlights?
Wonderboy: I think climbing Teton Pass, with climbing grades of 15% or so was a highlight. Being the first to summit Togwotee Pass at 9,658 feet of altitude was another good moment. Mount Rushmore and Mount Hood were really cool. The descent into Kah-nee-ta was crazy exciting as was the descent off Teton Pass. The town of Jackson was great, as were Boise, Casper, and Baker City. Our TV interview in Pocatello was fun. The ball game in Sioux Falls was a classic minor league experience. South Dakota was my biggest surprise. It was really special.
ABB: Any lowlights?
Wonderboy: The motel and food in John Day Oregon were awful. Idaho, to me, was a bust. Sioux Falls was a nice town, but the roads (especially in the rain) were awful. I'm surprised nobody got seriously hurt there. The buffets are getting a bit tired (anybody want another salad bar?).
ABB: Are you surprised that some people think your Dad is crazy? I mean, there are people who think (like the ventrilequist who talks to his dummy) that he's gone nuts believing that you are a real person.
Wonderboy: My Dad is the sanest guy I know. He, Senor Frumfrumm, and I are going to Happy Land today where we are going to ride a unicorn named Tova and lick rainbows out of the sky until our tongues ache. How could anybody question our sanity??
ABB: Well, on that note, I think we'll wrap it up here in Manitowoc. Have a great ferry ride and we'll catch up to you in New Hampshire in two weeks, OK?
Wonderboy: Nice talking to you. Gotta run. DAD...DAD...Senor Frumfrumm...don't leave without me!!!!!