Nothing Left to Do

And now the waiting begins.  We think we’re ready, but only time will tell.  Last long ride is done; last set of intervals accomplished.   Now, we wait and find out if it was sufficient.  Is the human ready?  Over trained?  Under trained?  Wrongly trained?  Ask us again in Ruidoso.

But, *I*’m ready.  I have new cables, a new chain and a new cassette.  My frame has been polished and everything lubed and oiled to perfection.  On Thursday, Edwin and I will go down to Sharon to get packed into the trailers and driven to San Diego.  Whole!  Not in a box!!!  We’re going to get to hang out with Route 66, and the bikes of some of our most favorite-est PAC Tour crew bikes for the drive.

And, we hear that there are also some bikes from Wisconsin and Illinois coming along.  It will be good to get to know them because…well…you know my human…slowest thing on 2 wheels….so we don’t get a lot of time to talk to other bikes as they whiz by us every morning (“Hey, good mooorrnnninngg… (woosh)”).  And, sigh…Moots isn’t coming this year….we’re really going to miss Moots and rider.  Sigh…just won’t be the same….

…but of course it won’t be the same.  It will be different.  New people, old people; new bikes, old bikes; new routes, old routes…..and, of course, Mother Nature will happily throw in new twists….rain when you don’t need it; headwinds when you’re tired…yeah, always different.

But, is the human engine ready?  Beats me.  This year, we trained differently.  More long weekends with longer rides (always 120-150 miles/day), but also more easy weekends to recuperate (hey, the human engine is getting old).  This pattern seemed to let us build up some good miles for the long weekends, but….when the human got hurt, we also found ourselves moving slower…(yep, apparently, slow can become slower…who’d’ve thunk?).

So for the last 6 weeks the human has been doing intervals.  We pulled back sooner on the long rides and focused on short intervals and shorter faster rides.  It seems to have worked and we’re toodling a little faster, but…you know, the thing about riding is that speed is relative.  One day it is hot, so your speed is down; another day you could be sluggish, but it is cool and the winds favorable and you ride faster.  So, are you really stronger on that second day?  How do you really know?

But the riding is over.  Last time we over trained; this time, I think we’re risking taking too much down time, but we’ll see.  Now it is just organizing and inventory.  GPS routes are generated and loaded. We have enough salty drink mix for several desert days….the human is not going to get chastised this year by Susan, “We don’t drink water in the desert!”  Ice sock packed and read.  Riding just enough to keep the legs fresh, but not tired.

And focusing on the first goal as put succinctly by the rider of that pretty Waterford from Indiana, “You just gotta get through the mountains of New Mexico.”  Yep…Ruidoso….ask me in Ruidoso and I’ll tell you if our training worked.

Egads! What a month!

What a frazzled wreck I’ve been, dear reader!  Seriously.  Frazzled and frayed!  Literally for my rear derailleur cable (which is now finally replaced), but mentally because my human motor almost blew the big trip for us (sigh…again…sigh).

Let’s see.  We left off back in May.  Things were going awesomely.  We were putting in the miles, our speed, while, the usual slow pace for my human engine, wasn’t so far off to be worrisome and then….WHAM!  The human wakes up on a Monday morning and can barely move.  Pulled a back muscle?  Threw a kidney stone?  We may never know (and the human’s mechanic…what do you call them? A doctor? isn’t sure either).  Either way, the human and I didn’t get out for almost 4 weeks!  Four weeks!  That’s an eternity when you’re training for a big ride.  And one of those weeks was Memorial Day.  Explicative, to say the least.

Well, the human persevered and we got back on the bike in June.  Slow at first.  And our first away weekend got cut short because the human said no further.  But, as sudden as the human’s problems started, they ended.  And the next weekend, we did back-to-back 200K’s from home.  Things finally started to look up.

But…the problem is, now it was the beginning of July.  So we picked up and headed out to the Driftless Region.  5 days of riding.  Up the hills.  Down the hills.  Fun, eh?  Oh, I forgot to mention the headwinds and the heat.  Maybe not quite so fun.  Big headwinds on the way out that turned around almost at the same time that we turned around.  Blah.  And, since the humans were carrying everything but the kitchen sink in the panniers, that wind really, really slowed us down.  But, it is pretty country, so maybe going slower is OK, eh?  And we got in a solid weekend of riding.  4 centuries in hill country.  Not bad.

But, before I move on to the rest of the story, I have to tell you, dear reader, the worst thing my human ever did to me!  Worse that being a lousy engine, worse that leaving me locked in a box and bouncing around the hold of an airplane.  Oh, yeah, totally worse!  The human took me on a limestone bike trail…in…the….rain!  WTF!?!?!?!  After 3 miles I had more dirt and mud on me than paint!  To the human’s credit, when we got to Mt. Horeb, we stopped at a car wash (really…a car wash) and I got sprayed down.  And at the hotel got more TLC, but, oh, the indignity of all that mud.  Such a sorry state, I was.

But, I digress…and I must get to my final story….sigh…I just don’t know if I should be livid and green with jealousy?  Or happy for my sibling bike Galanas?  I should be happy, but…..OK…you tell me.  So, at the end of our 4th of July weekend, my shifting went wonky.  Nothing made it happy.  So when we got back, I had to go see the mechanic.  Fine.  The human and I don’t go out for fun weekends but every other weekend, so not a biggie, right?  Wrong.

You see, the week after the 4th was PAC Tour’s Wisconsin Week.  Lots of friends were coming and Susan offered to shuttle the human’s car from Beloit to Dodgeville so we (and I mean we….Edwin, me and the humans) could ride with the group.  Cool, eh?  Oh, wait….except I’m at the bike shop.  Sob.  I’m laid up.

So, did the humans not go?  After all, I, the most beee-uuu-ti-ful and trustworthy bicycle could not attend, so they shouldn’t either, right?  Hrrrrmpphh….oh, they went alright.  My human took Galanas and Edwin’s took Blue (boring, name, eh?  But Blue is a pretty bike…maybe not as pretty as Galanas (or me!), but still pretty).

Now, I should be happy for Galanas because he has never ever gotten to ride with PAC Tour.  Never gotten pampered.  Never sat on a PAC Tour rack with all the fancy bicycles.  And, you know, if he hadn’t come back gloating about how much fun he had and how fast the humans rode, maybe I would.  Sigh…I missed the ride.  But, I take consolation that some of the humans took notice that I wasn’t there; some of the humans worried about me.

And, of course, I will be getting to ride the Southern….things are finally starting to look positive.  We may have lost some speed with that layoff, but we’re back training.   And, with a little luck, we’ll be ready come September.

 

The Mother Nature Challenge Ride

Well, dear reader, at its heart it was to be a simple ride for pizza (not just any pizza, the best pizza in the state, pizza!).  First an overnight at our new favorite Friday night stopover at the Riverwalk Inn in Fort Atkinson.  They like bikes so, course they’re OK by me — and Fort Atkinson has the Bent Kettle tap room that the humans seem to like.  But for me, the ride from home to Fort is just a really nice, low traffic stroll.  Perfect for a Friday night, get out of town stopover.

The plan was that on Saturday, the human and I would get up early, do our pre-dawn toodle, stop for breakfast and then together with Edwin and his human head up to Sauk City for pizza.  Simple, eh?  Two long centuries for me and the human; a 70 and an 80 for Edwin and his.  Perfect…right in line with training.  Except we forgot about Mother Nature…and one should never, ever slight Mother Nature.

But, we checked the weather….all good.  Mid 60’s.  Cold overnight, but we expect our pre-dawn rides to be cold and slow.  Predicted winds were “nagging”-strength as Lon would say, head and slight tail on the way out to Sauk City; cross and slight tail back.  Or so NOAA said; Mother Nature had another plan.

Heading back into town from our Saturday pre-dawn ride, the winds were already picking up.  Probably around 10-12 out of the NW.  And, our direction for the day,  you ask?  NW.  And if the winds at 6:30AM were 10-12…a small dread was building…or, was that just dread we felt or was that the laughing and taunting of Mother Nature?!?!??! Hmmm?!?!?!?

Wasn’t a good feeling, that was sure.  So, we stopped for breakfast and then headed out.  By half way we were riding in our granny gear full-time, even downhill.  The wind was strong.  Mississippi strong.  Needless to say, the human accused me of being “fat” whenever we headed up hill.  Uh, excuse me?  I don’t think so.  *I* didn’t put a rack on my tail and *I* don’t require a change of clothes and a warm fleece at night and *I* don’t need a generator hub to see in the dark…oh wait, I do like the generator hub even though it makes me a little slower.   Suffice it to say, it was a very tough day.

But, the pizza, as always, at Windmill was awesome (although my human embarrassed us by eating enough pizza for 2 large factory workers…sigh…and the human called *me* fat…but human’s need fuel and we burned a lot that day).

The next day we needed to ride back into town.  Due east and the winds were supposed to be NW.  No worries, right?  Uh…no.  The winds stayed due north with a slight east, but compared to the previous day not too bad.  So, was Mother Nature maybe going to be nice to us for the second day?  Nope…turns out the first day’s challenge was headwinds; the second day’s challenge was river crossings.

Apparently, it wouldn’t be sufficient to only have a strong crosswind on our 80 miles into Oconomowoc so Mother Nature flooded some rivers and encouraged some road construction for a total of 3 detours.  Three — in one case our detour had a detour.  Worst part, each one had us heading south for a few miles just so we could fight the strong north wind to get back on route.  Arggghhh….

But, it is all training.  And the training is moving forward.  We road for 9 hours on Saturday and got in a 10 hour ride on Sunday.  While we want to be doing 10 and 12 hour rides on the weekend, it is not yet Memorial Day.  And for that weekend, the human is promising me 3 days of riding.  Woohoo!

Hi Ho Hi Ho…Its off to work I go

Yeppers….today I went to work and got to hang out with the commuter bikes.  Of course, the human shackled me to the rack and I had to explain to the beat up bikes that *I* didn’t think I was more special than them, but it was the *human’s* fault.  What can I say?  We’re in the basement and all the humans that come by seem very nice….still…I am a very pretty bike.

But, why did I get to go to work?  Weekends!  The human is in training for another southern crossing (woohoo!  4 weeks of riding!) and that means we get to take weekend rides.  Not as in “we ride on the weekend”, but as in “leave the house on Friday night, ride all weekend to places unknown and ride back just in time to get to work on Monday morning.”  300 miles of riding!  Yay!  But….

Does the human realize that we will be crossing the desert in September?  Does the human not remember the 120 degree temperature reading on the van in El Centro?  I am beginning to wonder.  You see….it is April and just because NOAA says it will get to 60 degrees does *not* mean that it is 60 degrees at 5AM when we head out for our pre-breakfast ride!  I want you to know, dear reader, that it is (explicative) cold yet.

Oh, sure, Clyde says those temperatures are balmy, but *I* don’t commute.  Edwin and his human sleep in and join us for breakfast so they didn’t understand my complaints.  Oh, but *this* morning they did.  Oh yeah…this morning even they had to get up early and ride.  Ha!  See if they can move any faster when it is 35 degrees out!  Ha!

But, I’m a happy camper…despite the cold, I’m basking in a glow of a long weekend and, maybe even looking forward to the next.

 

Where I Become Army

..real army…US Army.  Ok, not quite, but the human and I have a magic pass so we get to ride through Fort Huachuca and it says US Army…so that makes us army, right?  While the west side of the fort is pretty, just outside the west gate?  Awesome.  Rolling hills (some pretty steep) and gorgeous views.  If you don’t have a pass to get through the fort, all those gorgeous rolling hills you enjoyed getting to the back gate, become a 15 mile obstacle to get you back to the main highway where you face another 20 miles to get back to Sierra Vista.  Finishing through the fort is much, much nicer.

While we rode through the fort with passes we got last week, the rest of the troops got into Sierra Vista via Tombstone, a 100 mile ride with a stiff headwind at the end for them.  For us, it was still a 70 mile ride and we traded the direct winds for indirect winds and hills for our challenging ride.  Not quite as tough as yesterday, but tough enough.

Bicycles and Fort Huachuca have a long history.  For many years Fort Huachuca was the home of the Buffalo Soldiers, all African-American troops back in the era when troops were segregated.  One of the training trips of the Buffalo Soldiers in the late 1800s was to test out the use of bicycle for transportation.  Buffalo Soldiers rode from Missoula to Missouri to prove the worthiness of the bicycle.  Successful as the experiment was, the army never adopted it.  Sigh…nothing more sturdy and efficient than a human on two wheels…you’d think the army would figure that out….sigh….

But, best part of today?  Tomorrow we get to do it again.  More rolling hills on quiet back roads.  Wheeee….whump……wheee…..whump….

Payback….

….is a bitch.  Mother Nature decided to make sure we understood what those awesome tailwinds could also mean.  Egads, I’m pooped.

Today we road from Tucson to Nogales…essentially, the distance we road the first 2 days of last week.  This is a different week.  Last week was a lovely tour through the historic towns, with pleasant distances; this week the goal is a century every day.  Now, the human and I won’t be aiming for every day, but we will be getting in at least 70 per day.

But, today’s ride was due south with a little westerly push at the end.  And the winds?  From the south, becoming more westerly.  Yes, indeed, today was payback time.  Winds were sustained in the high 20’s with gusts reaching 40.  Woohoo!  Not.  Climbing Mt. Lemmon yesterday was easier than heading south.  Heck, we rode the granny gear most of the way.

Blah….tired does not describe my wheels.  But while I got my chain cleaned and my tires washed, the human sipped down juice that Edwin’s human bought.  We are truly pampered.  We worked for it, but we are spoiled.

If it is Saturday…

…it must be Mount Lemmon?!?!?!?

In the winter, back in the cold, frozen north where pretty bikes like me must hibernate until Spring, the humans often do “bicycle shaped exercise” by riding indoors.  They put some training video on one computer, and a foreign movie on another and ride.  They don’t go anywhere, but they pedal and pedal and pedal.

My fellow bike George….oh, wait, let me quick introduce George.  George never gets out.  Ever.  George only lives in the basement, on the trainer.  George is an original Georgena Terry bike that the human bought directly from Georgena when the warehouse was shutting down (geek points…talking to and buying directly from *the* goddess of bicycle design!!)  George doesn’t quite fit the human, but it is close enough to use on the trainer.

So, anyway, my fellow bike George likes to gloat that the human rides hard when they put in the Mt Lemmon virtual reality disk.  George claims that the video is really pretty.  Did I mention that George gloats every winter?  Well, let me tell you…when I get back I’m going to tell George that the video does not do the ride justice.  It is absolutely gorgeous.

The human and I rode solo as the 3 Amigos (Edwin, Moots, and myself — see how happy we look coming up Mule Pass?!!?) have split for the season (we’ll get back together in July when Moots and her human visit us…woohoo!).  For the next week we ride by ourselves.  33108290701_26ee9f0a97_o

But, we headed up the mountain. Took a while to get to the start of the climb, but once we started climbing…oh, the views, the views.  Absolutely gorgeous.  And, a really nice shoulder on the highway.  We rode about 12 miles up the mountain….until we had to turn around to meet Edwin’s human for lunch.  Oh, what fun!

But, tomorrow starts the new week.  Oooo…the riders look strong.  We’ll be shot off the back in no time….but we won’t let that stop us.  We’ll keep riding and riding…and maybe, just maybe we’ll find someone to ride with.  If not, they human says we have some good books lined up to listen to.  Today we learned about the tea trade routes….who knows what we might learn?