Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saison Accompli

To each his own humor
Who woulda thunk mosquitoes would be worth a Nature Center?
Tis the season
Carved from a Cottonwood Tree
Glorious sunrise leaving Stevens Point for a 139 mile day

The Ferry Tour was, indeed, the capstone of my 2010 riding season.

I didn’t set out for it to be about “putting-it-all-together” about integration; but that’s what it turned out to be.

I finished the PAC Tour transcontinental in 2009 and the 2009 riding season broken and doubting, certain that my years had caught up with me and I could expect only a progressively sinking spiral of physical resources.

With low expectations I entered the off season without a lot of enthusiasm. Out of practiced discipline I just kept doing what I hoped would be the next right thing, whatever that really meant.

First it was rotator cuff surgery in December, then encouraging performance at Vision Quest Coaching in the computrainer lab, then multiple bike trips out of the winter and into the warm, then Bikram Yoga to improve my flexibility and balance, then the watershed discovery that I was allergic to an ingredient in the Hammer product I was using to fuel on the bike, then Pilates to strengthen my core, and then new orthotics to support my biomechanics toe to head.

By the time the 2010 riding season launched I seemed to have youthened 10 years: much pleasure challenging the glacial hills of Madison; successful fueling with a new potion in my water bottles, sharing destinations with Kirk, and solo, two and three-day rides of 120-150 miles per day.

And so, it came to be that The Ferry Tour was a triumphant fanfare celebrating the gift of wholeness in strength, balance, fullness of belly, riding friends here and there wherever I roam with whom to share some miles, the confidence and competence to solo navigate the miles far from home, and the joy of beating the sinking sun by eight minutes as day turned into night on the 6th day.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

SS Badger

Denise and Ken rode with me from the hotel to the SS Badger ferry dock in Ludington; they headed home (Muskegon) from there; I settled in for the 4-hour passage with Jhumpa Lahiri's novel, Namesake.

What are the odds of bumping into someone you know on the SS Badger? I'd say pretty slim. But bump I did into June and Bob Miller from church. We were all playing hookey. :)

What a difference a day makes. Gray skies replaced with blue, clouds replaced with cloudless, overcast with bright sun, 50 degrees with 75 degrees, no wind for WIND, and a head wind at that. But no complaints here after a wet yesterday.

The clearly autumnal feel of yesterday was replaced with a late summer quiet--the fields were resting, their florid growth over, ready for harvest; vibrant, silky green of corn and soy replaced with scratchy, noisy gold and brown. Farmers beginning to shave their corn field faces leaving the soil with the rough stubble of an old man's beard.

The fields of corn and soy and occasional lots of cattle wooed me into thinking I was in familiar turf. But the reality was I traveled the full distance from Manitowoc to Kimberly without nary a town or minimart. Had my Super 8 not arisen above the corn tops at mile 49/50, I was about to seek the hospitality of a local farmer. I'll save that for anther day.

Glorious day.

Day 2--Ludington

Oh my, rain, rain, and steady rain for 65 of the 85 miles. Temp was probably mid 50's but it was anything but pleasant.

What a gift to have Ken and Denise riding with me.They know the roads well so we could choose the most weather-friendly route. I've ridden in Pentwater and environs with my recumbent buddies from Chicago. Fun to be back "putting it all together" for the Ferry Tour.

Mark asked me if it had been a scenic day. I could only answer, "I don't know." Guess I'm not very good at looking around and taking in the sights when it's pouring rain, I'm shivering, and wanna keep the rubber side down.

Chilli at the Sands Cafe in Silver Lake, hot tea, and sinfull French Fries helped warm us from the inside out. Still another 30+ miles to go to Ludington from there.

Funny how quickly you can forget the weather pains after you shower, clean the bike, and refuel.

Ready for another day on the bike.

Practice Makes Perfect

The only Lake Express Ferry Crossing that would fit my schedule is a 12:30 departure. It's 75 miles door to door and I would have at least 25 pounds of gear loaded on the bike to support a 6-day tour. That leaves little time for smelling roses, changing tires, or missing a turn.

I test rode the route to the car ferry in mid-August. The route is truly doable in the given time frame. Next test was on Labor Day. How much slower would I be loaded with 25 pounds? Let's ride it an see. No problem. Punched it out in 5 hours.

Friday the 10th finally came. Mark and Jeff met me at my alley at 5:45 and off we went. They would ride with me 18 miles (Lake Bluff) and then turn around for breakfast and home. The weather gods were favorable so I easily arrived at the ferry dock before 11:00 for a 12:30 departure.

Ken met me at the dock in Muskegon; we rode to Denise's and then convoyed to dinner.

Sweeeeeeeeeeet day

Ferry Tour--The Inspiration and Reality

Friday, September 10th would launch my 2010 Ferry Tour, a significant scale-back from my original plan to circumnavigate Lake Michigan this season. Alas my nutritional issues required my deferring the circumnavigation to another year buying me some time to explore nutritional solutions. The Ferry Tour was the more modest tour that seemed doable under my fueling circumstances.

The Plan:

Day 1: Wilmette, IL-->Milwaukee and ferry across Lake Michigan on the Lake Express Ferry to Muskegon. Over night with Denise, a bent rider friend since 2006 from PAC Tour Desert Camp.

Day 2: Muskegon--> Ludington, MI with Denise and her long-time riding buddy, Ken, also a strong bent rider

Day 3: Ferry across Lake Micigan on the SS Badger from Ludington-->Manitowoc, WI; ride solo to Appleton, WI

Day 4: Ride solo to Stevens Point and visit friends at the Hostel Shoppe, a premiere Recumbent Bike Shop

Day 5: Ride solo from Stevens Point to Hartford, WI, a suburb of Milwaukee

Day 6: Ride to Milwaukee to meet Kirk for lunch and then ride home to Wilmette

Monday, September 06, 2010

Loaded For Bear (for Ferries)

My Ferry Tour launches this Friday, September 10th:

I'm packed, routes are both printed and loaded in my Garmin, bike is tuned, new Crank Bros. Acid pedals, new orthotics to support the recalcitrant right foot; just waiting for the start date to arrive on my calendar.

Friday's route is to Milwaukee and then ferrying across Lake Michigan to Muskegon where I'll hook up with bent friends, Denise and Ken. The Lake Express Ferry departs at 12:30. Cars, bikes, and peds must be queued up for boarding by 12:00. Since ferries don't wait for flat tires or head winds I want to arrive at the dock by 11:15 allowing some cush for untowards.

Today's goal was to ride to Kenosha (42 miles) and back to Cafe de Isaac in Highwood (31 miles) for a 4:15 dinner with Kirk, exactly 73 niles, the same distance as home to the Ferry. My bike was loaded with all the gear I'll be carrying on Friday so I would have a true test run of what it will take time-wise to get to the ferry by 11:15.

Outbound I enjoyed a delightful tailwind which, of course came back to bite me on the return. Bumped into John Lake (PAC Tour Hall of Famer) in Highland Park on the outbound; deer were jumping across the path in Lake Bluff; and all was right with the world.

My bike was solid and road worthy. And the answer to the question: "What time do I leave home on Friday to reach the ferry by 11:15?" is: 5:45 a.m. It'll be dark at that time; but hey, my Stella lamp will guide me well.

I off loaded my gear into Kirk's car and rode the last 11 miles home considerably lighter.

I'll post daily on my blog if the hotels have computers.