Sunday, July 5, 2015

Epilogue: Pieces of a Dream

I started out from Los Angeles with a Bicycle Dream...riding across America. I finished in Boston 140 miles short of the grand total of somewhere around 3400 miles (I haven't added up my Garmin miles yet) and the irony was that those miles were missed in my home state of Arizona. For me, it ended up being about so much more than riding my many things in life, it is not what you expected but somehow it ends up being so much more. A little recap:
Developing the left quadriceps tendonitis on the fourth day out had me questioning all kinds of things. Could I make it to Boston?  I had to ride part of the way to Wickenburg in the van and nursed my knee overnight, with Bruce trying to help and console. On the morning of the fifth day, my Trilogy Bicycle buddies (Gail, Jim, Kim, Malcolm, Christian and Donna) met me for the ride up Yarnell Hill (boy, was I glad to see them!) and Gail and Christian would go on to Prescott with me, but I had to SAG the last 15 miles or so due to pain. After a trip to the E.R. and on the persistent advice of all...I concluded I would ride the next two short days in the van. To Cottonwood, AZ, 43 miles, and to Flagstaff, AZ, 46 miles. It was incredibly hard to watch everyone else saddle up those days and sit in the van with ice packs on my knee. I had missed the final climb to Prescott with Gail and Christian and I had really wanted to ride Oak Creek Canyon in Sedona. Then the rest day in Flagstaff and Milly and David (TBC rules!) came sailing in to help me learn to tape the knee, buy me lunch and give out hugs.
But then, there I was...Flagstaff to Holbrook, 94 miles my first day back. Could I do it? The only thing to do was try. The Never Give Up thing. I made it. So I just kept getting on the bike everyday hoping the "ice pick pain" wouldn't come didn't. For me, it became about persistence, and letting go of my ego..I really do love to go fast. but I knew if I was going to make it I couldn't do that. I dialed it back, set a nice pace and spun a high gear. I appreciated just being able to ride without pain.
The riders I began riding with became my buddies... the "four caballeros"...Peter the Wise, the One and Only Original Jim C., and Matt, the Orange Crush (and me.) My experience on the ride would not have been the same without them. All the XC 2015 riders were special in their own way...each was on a journey of a different kind, but all pulled together to get to the finish.
The support I received from everyone was overwhelming and heartwarming. Special thanks to my husband, Bruce, for his unconditional love and support, to all my Trilogy Bicycle Club riding buddies who held me up, cheered me on, and helped me to believe maybe I really could make it, and to my family and friends, especially my brother Will, who sent emails, texts, and left encouraging comments on my blog.
In the end, it isn't so much about the bicycle but what you learn about yourself. My Bicycle Dream turned out to be different from what I thought it would be. The dream of riding EFI (Every Fantastic Inch) was broken early on, but I put the pieces back together and it turned out better than I had envisioned.....Joanne coined it best at our final rider dinner: "my imperfect ride became perfect."
Front Row: Me, Matt, Jim C., Peter
Trilogy Bicycle Club welcomes me home!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Day 48: The Finish Line: Burlington, MA to Revere Beach, MA

This morning it was grey, drizzling, and 62 degrees. We set off from the hotel in groups of two and three. Peter and I went off together, and there were quite a few family and friends watching the riders start, snapping pictures and cheering us on. After we all left they went down to the beach to meet us.
We grouped up at about mile 13 and the CrossRoads vans led us down to the beach those last few miles. It was fun to see everyone there waiting for us (more cheering here...). Also there was my friends David and Ginger Wheat from (yes!) the best bike club in America, The Trilogy Bicycle Club. We have plans to have dinner with them Sunday night in Boston, but David got the day off today and they sent me an email last night saying they would love to come to the beach today for the wheel dipping. Awesome!So there was David in his Trilogy Bike Jersey, plus Ginger and Bruce, of course.
I was caught off guard that I became somewhat tearful as we arrived at the beach.  It has been a long journey. We all proceeded to peel off our shoes and socks and carry our bikes down to the water to dip the wheels in the Atlantic. Lots of pictures were taken, hugs shared and a few tears shed.  I still am a little in shock that it is over and we actually did it. We had a banquet tonight and said goodbyes all around. I think I will add an Epilogue to the blog in the next few days, if anyone wants to read it. For now, enjoy the pictures and thanks to everyone for your support, encouragement and love.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Day 47: Brattleboro, Vt to Burlington, MA

4895 feet of climbing and 93 miles today ...10,272 total feet of climbing yesterday and today...
arrived in Burlington, MA and found Bruce waiting with flowers. Love that guy.
Too tired to blog and pictures are stuck. Wheel dipping tomorrow in the Atlantic...I
will give the detailed account of both days tomorrow...only 18 miles in the morning.
Hasn't really penetrated my brain yet that we are here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Day 46: The Road to Brattleboro, VT

The front that blew through yesterday left us with low humidity, blue skies, and a nice NW tailwind. Wow. We crossed the Hudson River and then started climbing almost immediately. The Vermont Line was at about 32 miles in and then we went through Bennington, VT and started a big climb through the Green Mountains. (The picture with the views in the background was taken at the top of Hogback Mountain.) Most of the grades were in the 7-9% range and then we had a big descent down towards Brattleboro. The descent was kind of hair raising with lots of traffic and a narrow shoulder. Glad that one is over. 
There were loads of wild flowers along the side of the road especially at the higher elevations. Beautiful...
The picture of Robin and me was taken at the second SAG today...she is such a great person. Every day she cheers us on, shouting "Tailwinds" every morning as we leave the parking lot...waits for us on the road, is almost always the last "sweep", fixes food at the SAGS...etc...
Tomorrow is our last big ride day and then Friday we are at the Atlantic Ocean. I can hardly believe it. Today: 80 miles, 5377 feet of climbing. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Day 45: Herkimer, NY to Latham, NY (Albany)

The observation for today: never underestimate the power of the weather bubble. Weather forecast was for heavy thunderstorms, gusty winds, etc. I deployed the rain jacket, rain resistant bibs, rain socks and shower cap. Off we went under very threatening skies, so dark I had to wear my regular glasses and put my sunglasses in my pocket. Sure enough, about 2 miles from the hotel it started to rain, 62 degrees and raining. Just the way we like it....
However, after about an hour of this, it stopped, the skies started to clear, the humidity went up to 150%, and I had a rear flat....nice....a big chunk of glass embedded in my tire. By the time I changed that I was filthy, in addition to being wet, and the bike was even more filthy from road spray and grit. By the time we got to the 40 mile SAG, the sun was out.
We went through the Mohawk Valley today but unfortunately we couldn't see much. Heavily leafed trees lined both sides of the road so we couldn't see out. We did get a glimpse of the Erie Canal here and there, but that was about it. Only about 2200 feet of climbing, which was good as the next two days are heavy climbing days.
We are all discussing the end of the ride now...everyone is ready to be finished. So meal conversations center around various iterations of how we are is interesting to hear the various perspectives.
No pictures today..not much to see. We cross into Vermont tomorrow. Only 2 more days of riding Wednesday and Thursday and then the ceremonial ride to the ocean on Friday.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Day 44: "A Brochure DAY" (Syracuse to Herkimer, NY)

It was a fantastic morning, sunny and warm, with a nice tailwind out of the west. Ron Rossi, who joined us in Champaign, IL has ridden this section before and gives out a piece of advice: ride easy the next two days because the last two days into Burlington, MA are "ball busters" .....
hmmmm... Peter and I decide it is a great day to take the "local tour", no pushing, just enjoy. We mosey on down the rode and what a great ride it was. Nice country roads, not much traffic, cute little towns along the old Erie Canal. We find a little coffe shop called "Toast" and had some real coffee and homemade biscotti. Spent a good 45 minutes there...unheard of. Continued on and ate lunch at a little local Italian place before heading into the hotel. I think I like this touring mode! We decide this day was a brochure DAY, not just a brochure moment!
Tomorrow we head to Albany, NY but RAIN is in the forecast. We are hoping the weather bubble may kick in!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Day: 43 Canandaigua, NY to Syracuse, NY

Good things about today: (in order of best first)
1. Tailwind
2. It started pouring rain about 10 minutes AFTER we got to the hotel
3. Only 68.6 miles today
4. We hit 3,000 miles...
5. Donuts at the SAG

Not so good things:
1.  Woke up in the night with nausea, headache and proceeded to RUN to the bathroom
multiple times....suspect food poisoning...wasn't sure I could ride this morning but decided to give it a go and felt better by mid-morning
2.  Got chased by a big black dog (Rottweiler?) up a hill...I think he got tired before I did but boy was I scared! I didn't know I could accelerate that fast UP a hill...
3.  After I got to the hotel I actually fell asleep on the bed holding a cup of that is tired.
(and what a mess)
4. We had the mother of all rough RR crossings..had to carry our bikes through

(see picture)

Counting down now to Boston. 5 days to go.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Day 42: Hamburg NY to Canandaigua, NY

Summer made a reappearance today. We had a cool start at about 59 degrees, but the sun was out and it warmed up quickly into the upper 70's. This was the saving grace of the day...that and the fact that we had very little wind. Otherwise, it was climbing and more climbing.
94.9 miles and 4212 of climbing. (Everyone in the Trilogy Bicycle Club knows how happy this makes me.)
The country here is called the Finger Lakes Region of upstate New York...very pretty and green with big rolling hills. Nice, tidy little towns...all of which I failed to get a single decent picture of.
So it was a plodding kind of day, one big rolling hill after another. General fatigue has sort of settled over the group the last couple of days. No one except Joanne is injured, but muscles are just tired.
We have started talking about the end of the trip...jokes fly about how we are not going to dip the front wheels of the bikes in the Atlantic, we will just took throw whole bike in and be done with it.
I think most people feel sad that it will be over, but also kind of ready. Lots of friends and family members will be joining the group in Boston for the Finale, and everyone is looking forward to the festivities. Only 6 more days.

Pictures from Erie to Hamburg, NY

Friday, June 19, 2015

Day 41: Erie, PA to Hamburg, NY or, Who stole summer?

For some reason I thought it was nearing the end of June and it should be getting warm...BUT, we had a cold north wind, overcast and drizzle, and 58 degrees this morning. It became clear that if we were going to make any decent headway that it would be a paceline kind of day. (NE headwind at about 10 maybe, and of course we are going NE!) So we grouped up and made pretty good speed, and we kept saying..only 80 miles today...boy, how your perspective changes. We think anything around 80 or less is a lighter day.
At the first SAG the temp was dropping. Now 56 degrees. Yikes! This is winter! Some of us got our heavier jackets off of the truck at that point. The scenery would have been spectacular with views of Lake Erie and lots of vineyards, but the grey overcast and cold wind put a damper on things.
We stopped at a fun local place called Aunt Millie's. :-) They have a great bakery and I had the biggest almond pastry I have ever had...literally the size of a dinner plate. I put half of it in my pocket for later and gave some to the guys, too. We sang Happy Birthday to Craig who turned 61 today.
We crossed the New York State line today, and before long we were in Hamburg, which is not far from Buffalo. Just as we were getting to the hotel the sun started peeking out, but we expect to have a cool start again tomorrow.
Big news: No KT tape today on either knee...woo hoo!
The Internet at this hotel is terrible...once again picture issues. I will try to post the pictures from today tomorrow.
Thanks again to everyone for your comments. I love to read them!