Friday, October 06, 2006

The Day After

I slept till 8:00 this morning. The last month we were long gone by that hour. Kirk and I had planned a leisurely day at Tybee, the biggest thing on the agenda was trying to figure out how to pack my gear without exceeding the airline weight limit and without having to rent a car to help us get a box shipped back home with the extra gear. We got it all in with no problem. Had a low country breakfast at "The Breakfast Club" a block from the hotel.

I fell asleep at 11:30 a.m. and slept for three hours! Don't know when that has last happened. I think it might be one of several body transitions I go through in the next few weeks.

Barry Bergman, one of our riders, got a GI bug in Perry, GA and elected to stay back a day rather than having to SAG ahead. So today was his ride-in day to Tybee. Two other riders, Diane Rappaport and Steve Dieball rode out to the rendezvous-point from which we all rode in together yesterday. They rode with him into the hotel and Donna Allen, another rider, and her three kids had cheers and balloons for him when he rode across the threshold. Kirk and I had dinner with Barry and Diane tonight and the Sting Ray across the street from the hotel. We finished our meal just as the sky opened up with a big, big rain. How gracious the weather god was on us for 26 days.

One other coincidence of note. Barry was pulling out of the hotel in Metter to ride to Tybee when the PAC Tour trucks were fueling up at the gas station right next to the Waffle House and the Metter hotel. So Barry got to say farewell to Lon and Susan and a couple other crew who were helping drive the PAC vehicles back to Wisconsin, home of PAC Tour.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Couple More Final Pix

PAC Tour women and the whole group.

I am a PAC Tour Rider

  1. I don't know what city I'm in without a route care.
  2. I have seen over 26 sunrises in a row.
  3. I shower with my laundry.
  4. I can identify the state by the roadkill.
  5. Eating breakfast in the parking lot seems normal.
  6. My bike stops at yellow cones.
  7. I dream about grasshoppers jumping on me and getting stung by flying bugs.
  8. My favorite TV show is the Weather Channel.
  9. I know that foods ending in---bar are one of the baic food groups.
  10. I can clean my bike in five minutes.
  11. I know who Bisti is and have fed her my sausage links that Dennys would give me even when I asked them to hold the sausage.

Day 26 Tybee Island Pix

Day 26 Metter, GA-->Tybee Island, GA

Departure 7:32 a.m.
Arrival: 2:00 p.m.
86 miles
1000' climbing
Departure temp: 61
Arrival temp: 86

Kirk and I had a wonderful "get caught up" dinner at Crabby Joes in Metter last night. It will be the last time we can eat outdoors for many months. Just one of many things that will come to an end after today, things like:
  • a different hotel room every night
  • never unpacking your duffle bag for 30 days.
  • washing out your riding clothes in the sink each night and hanging them to dry on the railings and trees outside your hotel room
  • peeing behind roadside bushes multiple times a day for 26 days
  • massages by Jonathan Jahant to keep our legs going for one more day
  • mixing up protein drinks and electrolyte beverages each night readying for the next day
  • eating in the likes of Huddle House, Waffle House, Dennys, and Cracker Barrel night after night
  • eating oatmeal in the parking lot served up in electric roaster pans that are plugged into the outlets in the crew's hotel room
  • drinking 2 liters of pop per rider per day
  • waking up in the night hungry and scrounging for food
How do you integrate something that has been such an intense focus for all of us for a year or more? How do you re-enter your own real world?

Well, back to doday. Today's ride was different than all the others. First, it was the shortest. Second, the rest stops came sooner with fewer miles in between. That meant that riders didn't get so spread out over the course. Third, the route was flat and the wind was minimal so mph was high. Fourth, we could all haul out because we wouldn't be riding tomorrow so didn't have to save some legs for tomorrow. And fith, we all regrouped at the 82 mile mark so we could ride the last 4 in as a group to the hotel. I took advatage of all those conditions and rode either with or ahead of the lead packs up to the regroup zone. That was a hoot. Loved it. My recumbent can fly on the flats.

The celebration on the beach is best told in the pix.

We banqueted tonight. There were about 40 family members here, more than at any other PAC banquet. It was great fun to meet the spouses and kids of the folks you've ridden with the last month.

Kirk and I will debrief tomorrow on Tybee and fly home on Saturday. Lots of efficient packing needs to be done to get everything back home without the advantage of being able to mail a box of supplies.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Day 25 Pix

Rolling hills on the way to Perry, GA.

Crossing the Chattahoochee into GA.

Day 25 Perry, GA-->Metter, GA

Departure: 7:32 a.m.
Arrival 4:00 p.m.
Departure temp: 67
Arrival temp: 87
116 miles
2000' climbing

Sleep, sleep, I couldn't go to sleep. I think that's how the song goes from "My Fair Lady." My heart and mind were full--full of images, fragrances, sounds, rituals, routines, all of which I've written about; all of which will be coming to a close tomorrow. Today was our last "full" riding day.

I'm looking forward to re-reading my own blog to remember the many details of the journey and then creating a slideshow.

My concern about today was fulfilled. I sort of shot my wad, as they say, yesterday in my excitement to get into Perry to hook up with Kirk. Then, with only 3-4 hours of sleep and 116 miles to ride in temps in the upper 80's, well, you get the picture.

Getting out of Perry was a little dicey; by far the most "traffic" we've had all tour. After the first 12-15 miles we were on open roads, good roads I might add, for the rest of the day. We saw the likes of Danville, Allentown, Montrose, Dudley, Dublin (where Kirk went to grade school), Blackville, and finally Metter. I consulted at Parkside Lodge of Dublin back in the '80's and the town then was much like it was when Kirk was living there in the late '50's. It's all "grown up" now. Totally unrecognizeable. Even Kirk didn't see anything familiar.

Everyone is wearing down--body, mind, and spirit. Thoughts are turning to re-integrating with family and office politics and projects left untouched for a month. Heads are down as we ride; not nearly as much chatter on the bikes or at meals and rest stops. This is as it should be. Everything has its own rhythm and cycle.

I was listening to my iPod again today. Songs are randomly shuffled so I got to hear the grand finale to Mahler's 1st, which is one of my fav's with all the brass and percussion. The very next song was one of Bryan's bilingual (Spanish/English) tunes about naming fruits and food. I couldn't help but laugh out loud about the comic juxtapostioning. Then it occured to me that the tunes were a perfect metaphor for life. Sublime to ridiculous, celebration to loss, humiliation to humility, on and on. Life, too, is often on random shuffle--events often beyond our control.

Speaking of events beyond our control. The flying things that stung me 2-3 days ago, the ones that stung my stomach. Well, I am having one HUGE allergic reaction to the sting. My whole lower abdomen is one big welt, hard, red, and hot. Going systemic. How to get medical care in Metter? When the hotel desk clerk says that she's a medical student and would NEVER go to the hospital in Metter, well that pretty much says it. One of the vets on the trip had some Prednisone so I'm self-medicating until we can get to Savannah and get someone to take a look at it. I brought 9 inner extra tubes, 4 extra tires, myriad CO2 cartridges (to inflate tires when they flat on the road), extra clips for my shoes, spare shoe buckles, extra parts specific to my recumbent, an extra bike computer, lots of computer batteries, etc., etc. All, just in case. Also brought all my physical therapy equipment so I could keep my body tuned up. (I have called Deb, my PT, daily with my physical report and she has tweaked my exercises accordingly.) But it was a flying insect that got me. How do you prepare for that?? Guess it just goes to show I'm not in charge. A good reminder.

Tomorrow we ride off to Tybee Island, about 20 miles east of Savannah on the ocean. We'll have a little closing banquet there. All the bikes will be packed in their hard shell cases before dinner. Then we can rest. There will be a lot of sleeping riders on the planes heading home. This I know is true.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Day 23/24 Pix

Solme of those rolling hills that add up to 3,500-4,00' of climbing.
Just one of the many quaint places we passed. This one in Bundridge, AL.

Day 24 Eufaula, AL-->Perry, GA

Departure: 7:32 a.m.
Arrival: 4:20 p.m. (Time zone change so that was really 3:20 on the riding clock)
105 miles
3,600' climbing
Departure temp: 68
Arrival temp: 90

Well, yesterday we actually had 4,900' of climbing and the hills we were anticipating today were to be bigger. If there was good news in that it was that most of them would be behind us by the 1st rest stop at mile 26. They were big rollers, for sure. Some at a 10% grade, most at 6-8%. These continuous hills are something this Chicago rider had not had to reckon with before. But I can sure ride them with greater skill and efficiency now than 3-4 weeks ago. What will I do on the flats again? Hmmm.

We passed into Georgia at about the 3 mile mark while crossing the Chattahoochee River. I had decided to ride with my iPod today, the first time I have ridden with it the whole trip. I have ridden probably 90-95% of the miles across the country alone, hooking up with people at the rest stops and for dinner. But peddaling along I'm on my own. Hard to find someone who rides at my pace. Not fun to ride a lot slower and surely no fun to burn yourself out trying to hang on to someone's wheel who is outriding you. I decided I needed something to distract me from focusing on my fatigue and aches and pains. My iPod is a good distractor. The first few songs that came up in the random shuffle of the Pod were songs written and sung by Bryan, Daniel, Aaron's band, and Mya. I got REALLY choked up as I crossed into GA hearing the familiar songs and voices of family and reflecting on all the years of living, healing, gratitude, and grace that have made it possible for me to be two days from the finish line.

We ate lunch in Ellaville ( not to be conused with Elavil) :)). There was an option to ride an extra 8 miles or so to visit a Confederate Museum in Andersonville. I opted out of the "tour" because I was so excited to get to Perry and see Kirk. I was so excited that I picked up an extra mile per hour on my average the last 20 miles home!

We rode through Pecan groves and cotton fields today. The bugs weren't so bad today, thank goodness. My lip is still swollen and my stomach is a mass of red welts from being stung yesterday. Oh well.

Tomorrow we're off to Metter, GA. We'll pass through Dublin, GA where Kirk went to gradeschool. Shannon Burns and I actually did a century in Dublin back in the Parkside Lodge of Dublin Days. My, that seems like a lifetime ago. I think it was, actually.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Day 22/23 Pix

Ken Abrams celebrating the crossiing into AL.
Love Bug
Box Elder Bug

Day 23 Greenville, AL-->Eufaula, AL

Departure: 7:32 a.m.
Arrival: 4:00 p.m.
110 miles
4,700' climbing
Departure Temp: 70
Arrival Temp: 86

Well, this was a long day, not in miles but in time and what it took to get here. Seems like a lot of us were slow today. Could it be that having ridden 280 miles the preceding 2 days had something to do with it? Or that the 4,700' of climbing was compressed into the 110 miles? Or that we have been riding for 23 days without a day off? Probably all of those things.

The weather continues to be beautiful. Some are remarking negatively about the humidity, but I'm rather fond of it. Feels like home. Plus, the 3rd degree burn, the size of a jelly bean, I got on my lip Day 2 from sun and wind has finally begun to heal once we got east of the Mississippi River. I thank the humidity for that.

Yesterday and today have been the days of flying bugs. Some said they were Box Elder Bugs. Others said they were Love Bugs. The myriad mating bugs that bounced off my sun glasses, got stuck in my sun screen and made reading my cue sheet difficult didn't really look like either, but they were real, that's for sure. Today I had the stinging variety. Two stung my stomach at the same time, two others my shoulder, but the most painful one was the wasp-like creature that hung on to my lip while I was crossing a bridge on a down hill with traffic.

We had our first encounter with an unfriendly motorist today. A car full of males honking angrily, harrassing us verbally and throwing a beer can at one of the female riders. That's a pretty good record, though, for having traversed about 2,700 miles with nary and encounter.

Saw a few church signs today of note. One was named "The Last Chance Church of God." Another was the "Lilly White Church of God." I'm troubled by that theology. The last was kind of a cute sign--"Sign Broke. Message Inside."

Tomorrow is a day I've been looking forward to since the beginning of the ride. Kirk flew to Atlanta today; took the shuttle down to Columbus to see his Mom. They'll be driving to Perry, GA tomorrow, our destination. Mary will say "howdy" and return to Columbus; Kirk will ride in the SAG truck the last two days. It'll be so good to see him.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Day 22 Merdian, MS-->Greenville, AL

Departure: 7:02 a.m.
Arrival 4:38 p.m.
147 miles
4,700’ climbing
Departure Temp: 70
Arrival Temp: 90

Most of us thought of today as “hump day” meaning if we could make it through today we think we can make it to the finish line on Thursday. Then again, there have been surprises on the up and down side, so no rides are in the bag until we get to the hotel.

Sundays have been hard rides. Our 1st Sunday, the first day, was to El Centro, CA through the desert; the 2nd Sunday was to Socorro, NM 157 miles; the 3rd Sunday was the Telamina Parkway with ALL the climbing (that I avoided by taking the low road), and then today, the 4th Sunday was 147 miles.

Other than the long ride, today was marked by rolling hills on good pavement. After yesterday’s filling rattling, bone jarring pavement, today was a pleasure. Nothing too remarkable about the route. Kudzu was back in the picture; we passed signs to Vimville and Whynot. Glad I don’t live either of those places. Couldn’t even tell you if they were in MS or AL. (We entered AL at about the 20 mile mark.) We passed “Bob’s Best Burgers with a pest control truck in the driveway. Even passed a house, a nice house, that didn’t have any kind of a driveway. Not even tire tracks. Now how does that work?
Several folks were SAGGING today. We’re all getting tired and our bodies are beginning to show the wear and tear.

Off to Eufala, AL tomorrow.